Is giving in to an addiction a sin?
#1
I'm struggling with a particular addiction, having to do with a mental illness. I'm taking all the steps to avoid giving in to it, but I've failed lately. Would this be considered a sin? If so, venial or mortal, do you think?
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#2
A lot depends on individual circumstance, but I would reckon it's generally a venial sin.  As a general principle, if it's something harmful to you physically or spiritually, but the full control of your will is impeded by the addiction from mental illness, then it would not be mortally sinful.  On the other hand, if you made a full, knowing act of the will to give into the addiction (and the matter was gravely sinful), then it could be a mortal sin.  A good confessor will be able to help you with distinguishing these in your individual case.
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#3
Don't be afraid; God wants you more that you want Him. Step it up by frequenting the sacraments, prayer and rosary. Do you have a good traditional priest? If yes, tell Father about it in the confessional or even better maybe make an appointment to speak with him so you're not feeling like you have to hurry. God will see you through this. Don't give into fear. Turn to the sweet Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Victory. I think she wishes to be your comfort in this trial.
"Not only are we all in the same boat, but we are all seasick.” --G.K. Chesterton
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#4
(10-10-2019, 08:49 AM)Birdie Wrote: I'm struggling with a particular addiction, having to do with a mental illness. I'm taking all the steps to avoid giving in to it, but I've failed lately. Would this be considered a sin? If so, venial or mortal, do you think?

I, too, struggle with habitual sin. I don't know if I have an addiction or any form of mental illness that might partially excuse my actions, but nonetheless, I have a compulsion to sin that I regularly give in to and can't seem to stop. I make an effort to pray the rosary everyday and I go to confession regularly, but I don't make a serious enough effort to truly amend my life and almost immediately backslide right back into my sinful state. It's been a long time since I've been able to receive communion. It may be a minor consolation to me to know that my sins are actually only venial and not mortal, but I doubt that. It's all so tiring. But I can't give up.
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#5
(10-10-2019, 08:49 AM)Birdie Wrote: I'm struggling with a particular addiction, having to do with a mental illness. I'm taking all the steps to avoid giving in to it, but I've failed lately. Would this be considered a sin?

Addiction is a type of mental disorder and is always linked to mental illness which doesn't excuse committing the sin. In fact all these mental illnesses are the efforts of secular science to explain the things that Christianity has always known such as the Holy Spirit, the devils temptations, torments and accusations, evil possession, God's will, Satan's will, spiritual warfare, etc. 
I too have addictions which I'm constantly doing battle with. The following describes my condition like only Paul can. 

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"   Romans 7: 15-25


whitewashed_tomb Wrote:It's all so tiring. But I can't give up.

That is so true. It is not only very tiring but it's also discouraging but we must stay strong and never give up. Understand that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, a war that will most likely continue till our deaths. Do not be deflated by this, there are many battles that will be won and lost but the war goes on in this world and our glory will be so much greater after enduring such tribulations. 

The fact that we are aware of our addiction to sin and are trying to address it means that the Holy Spirit is indeed within us. Everyone is engaged in spiritual warfare regardless of how righteous someone may think they are, even the seemingly minor sins like pride, jealousy, dissension and countless other sins are tempted by the evil one. I've even seen sins by people on this forum who discourage others, try to create divisions, invent their own doctrines, replace the word of the bible and of the church with their own word and just blatantly lying. 

Most people think they are free of Satan's temptations but are in fact being deceived. In one way we are somewhat lucky to be able to clearly distinguish Satan's temptation, we are not being deceived. 

I pray for everyone to be able to stand against the lures of the devil and for the Holy Spirit to guide us to God's will. God bless
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#6
(10-10-2019, 03:52 PM)JacafamalaRedux Wrote: Don't be afraid; God wants you more that you want Him. Step it up by frequenting the sacraments, prayer and rosary. Do you have a good traditional priest? If yes, tell Father about it in the confessional or even better maybe make an appointment to speak with him so you're not feeling like you have to hurry. God will see you through this. Don't give into fear. Turn to the sweet Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Victory. I think she wishes to be your comfort in this trial.

Thanks for the encouragement! I don't have a good confessor. But I do have support at home and in therapy, and that's really helpful.
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#7
About addiction itself being a mental illness, that’s true; mine is actually a symptom of my mental illness. I’m not saying that this excuses me completely, but it is what it is.
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#8
Repeat post.
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#9
If you are addicted to a sin, then yes. Why is this even a question? If it's a sin and you know it's a sin, then that's choosing to sin. Nobody put a gun to your head.
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#10
(10-11-2019, 01:24 PM)Birdie Wrote: About addiction itself being a mental illness, that’s true; mine is actually a symptom of my mental illness. I’m not saying that this excuses me completely, but it is what it is.

If you do something disordered and could have reasonably prevented it, then you've sinned.

However, your ability to consent is certainly reduced by both the previous habit and the mental illness. If it is so reduced that you truly cannot willfully control it, then there could be no sin at all, but this is probably rare. If your consent is so reduced that there is not a complete consent to the act, then certainly there cannot be mortal sin. So even when the action would normally and usually be a grave sin, it might be in your case only venially sinful, but that's not a good assumption to make unless you have a good confessor or spiritual director telling you this.

Part of beating a habit of sin is the Sacraments and a consistent and constant effort against the sin. Part of beating (or at least controlling) the mental illness is going to be proper medical treatment as well as proper spiritual support.

Thus, I think it would be good to speak with a good Catholic priest who can help work with your doctors to find a suitable treatment and help you to be more successful in beating your habitual sins, even if they are not grave sins, and can help assess your actual spiritual condition and provide helps towards fixing the problems. It is also worth noting that getting this spiritual help may help the mental illness as well, just as help with the mental illness may help the spiritual life.

You need to work on both the natural and supernatural side, and good priests will certainly support you in this, so go and find one you can trust and will help.
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