narcotics
#1
This probably has been dealt with already.  I apologize if so.  Let me preface this by saying that I don't take any illegal narcotics nor do I intend to, nor do I have any intentions of taking any even if they were legal.  That said, I was reading this (after looking up the reference to cocaine in the index from, Fr. Heribert Jone's "Moral Theology" p. 110:
"Since morpine, opium, chloroform and similar drugs can also deprive one of the use of his reason temporarily, that which was said of intoxicating drinks holds true also for narcotics (Cf. 165, 4).
a) To use narcotics in small quantities and only occasionally, is a venial sin if done without a sufficient reason. Any proportionately good reason justifies their use, e.g., to calm the nerves, dispel insomnia, etc.
Such use becomes gravely sinful if it creates an habitual craving for "dope" which is more difficult to overcome than dipsomania and more injurious to health."

Is Fr. Jone the only theologian that speaks about the use of narcotics, for or against?  I understand the requirement to submit to all laws given by a duly appointed government, and I also understand the requirement to look after one's one health.  So that is not at issue.  Fr. Jone seems to allow (assuming its in accordance with local laws) its use for medicinal purposes, and not very extreme ones either (calm the nerves, insomnia etc.) Is there any other sources that talk about this, besides the CCC (I know it has an entry on it)?  Any other texts on moral theology?  pre-Vatican II if possible.  Thanks.

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#2
bump.

again, there is no personal interest in using it myself.  It's an educational interest.  Much like researching the morality of, say, ectopic pregnancies, even though I'm a guy and will never have to go through one of those myself.

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#3
I worked as a substance abuse counselor for 11 years and that's how I've always treated using. Using drugs is not inherently evil, becoming intoxicated and losing control of the will is and breaking the law is when the law does not command you to do something inherently sinful.
I think addiction to a drug is best visualized as the pursuit of a false spiritual connection. Jung called it "misdirected search for God". Addiction causes the intellect to be blinded and the will to become warped so I think many times it can be mitigated down to a venial sin. Unfortunately, the loss of the virtue of temperance, which pertains to the proper use of things that give pleasure,  leads to the loss of all other natural and infused virtues and in general really bad behavior.



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#4
thanks, yeah that's how I see it as well.  I just wasn't sure if there were any other theologians that spoke on the issue, or if the Jone reference was the only one of any particular relevance.
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#5
newtradcatholic Wrote:thanks, yeah that's how I see it as well. I just wasn't sure if there were any other theologians that spoke on the issue, or if the Jone reference was the only one of any particular relevance.

Not directly that I can think of but I think of it in terms of Thomistic virtue ethics so all that he said on the virtue of temperance, and the natural virtues in general, applies.

St. Thomas does talk specifically about alcohol in ST II-II, Q 149 and whatever pertains to alcohol pertains to any other mood-altering drug as well in my thinking.

In article 3 of the above question he writes: (Whether the use of wine is altogether unlawful)

On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Timothy 5:23): "Do not still drink water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thy frequent infirmities"; and it is written (Sirach 31:36): "Wine drunken with moderation is the joy of the soul and the heart." I answer that, No meat or drink, considered in itself, is unlawful, according to Matthew 15:11, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man." Wherefore it is not unlawful to drink wine as such. Yet it may become unlawful accidentally. This is sometimes owing to a circumstance on the part of the drinker, either because he is easily the worse for taking wine, or because he is bound by a vow not to drink wine: sometimes it results from the mode of drinking, because to wit he exceeds the measure in drinking: and sometimes it is on account of others who would be scandalized thereby.
St. Thomas places "drunkenness" as a species of the sin of gluttony. (ST II-II, Q 150) {Art. 1, Whether drunkenness is a sin}

I answer that, Drunkenness may be understood in two ways. First, it may signify the defect itself of a man resulting from his drinking much wine, the consequence being that he loses the use of reason. On this sense drunkenness denotes not a sin, but a penal defect resulting from a fault. Secondly, drunkenness may denote the act by which a man incurs this defect. This act may cause drunkenness in two ways. On one way, through the wine being too strong, without the drinker being cognizant of this: and in this way too, drunkenness may occur without sin, especially if it is not through his negligence, and thus we believe that Noah was made drunk as related in Genesis 9. On another way drunkenness may result from inordinate concupiscence and use of wine: in this way it is accounted a sin, and is comprised under gluttony as a species under its genus. For gluttony is divided into "surfeiting [Douay:,'rioting'] and drunkenness," which are forbidden by the Apostle (Romans 13:13).


Now the problem is, there is a "safe" level of consumption for drugs such as alcohol and arguably marijuana. There is no "safe" level of consumption for say, crack cocaine.
If the criteria for a sin is "he loses the use of reason" then I'd have to say that ANY use of some of the powerful street drugs - cocaine, meth, herion &c might well qualify for there is no "safe" way to use them. Not to mention they are illegal most places.
This is however, a relative standard, not an objective one. Due to individual differences in body weight, biochemistry and metabolism, different people can safely consume differing amounts of alcohol and still retain their use of the faculty of reason.

You might review Fr. Ripperger's work on psychology, he applies Thomistic philosophy to many problems of modern psychology. He speaks only very briefly on addiction in Vol. 3 but I think I'd be correct in saying he would agree with the above.
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#6
I really need to get Father Jone's book. But I have a question about this particular part:

Fr. Jone Wrote:a) To use narcotics in small quantities and only occasionally, is a venial sin if done without a sufficient reason. Any proportionately good reason justifies their use, e.g., to calm the nerves, dispel insomnia, etc.
Such use becomes gravely sinful if it creates an habitual craving for "dope" which is more difficult to overcome than dipsomania and more injurious to health.

Many people with chronic pain take morphine and eventually the body actually becomes physically addicted to it, even though they only take the necessary amount for pain management. Would that fall under "habitual craving"? My guess would be no but I'd like to hear others opinions.

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#7
Rowsdower Wrote:I really need to get Father Jone's book. But I have a question about this particular part:

Fr. Jone Wrote:a) To use narcotics in small quantities and only occasionally, is a venial sin if done without a sufficient reason. Any proportionately good reason justifies their use, e.g., to calm the nerves, dispel insomnia, etc.
Such use becomes gravely sinful if it creates an habitual craving for "dope" which is more difficult to overcome than dipsomania and more injurious to health.

Many people with chronic pain take morphine and eventually the body actually becomes physically addicted to it, even though they only take the necessary amount for pain management. Would that fall under "habitual craving"? My guess would be no but I'd like to hear others opinions.

Principle of double effect, the purpose of taking the narcotic is to allievate pain. That's allowed. The intoxication and possible physiological dependence on the drug is secondary and unintentional and therefore not sinful.

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