Spirituality and Addiction
Monday, November 15, 2021
I do not understand my own behavior. I fail to carry out the very things I want to do, and find myself doing the very things I hate. . . . For although the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not. —Romans 7:15, 18
Father Richard Rohr continues his thoughts on addiction and transformation:
Addiction is a modern name and honest description for what the biblical tradition called “sin” and medieval Christians called “passions” or “attachments.” They both recognized that serious measures, or practices, were needed to break us out of these illusions and trances. In some cases, the New Testament calls them “exorcisms”! They knew they were dealing with non-rational evil or “demons.”
“Stinking thinking” is the universal addiction. Substance addictions like alcohol and drugs are merely the most visible forms of addiction. Actually, we are all addicted to our own habitual way of doing anything, our own defenses, and, most especially, our patterned way of thinking, or how we process reality. The very fact that we have to say this shows how little we see it. By definition, we can never see or handle what we are addicted to. It is always “hidden” and disguised as something else. As Jesus did with the demon at Gerasa, someone must ask, “What is your name?” (Luke 8:30). The problem must be correctly named before the demon can be exorcised. We cannot heal what we do not first acknowledge.
Contemplation teaches us how to observe our own small mind and, frankly, to see how inadequate it is to the task in front of us. As Eckhart Tolle says, 98% of human thought is “repetitive and pointless.”  How humiliating is that? When we see how self-serving, how petty, how narcissistic, and how compulsive our thinking is, we realize how trapped and unfree we truly are. We might even call it “possessed.”
The only way to be delivered from our “body of death” (Romans 7:24), or what Tolle calls the “pain body,”  is to find oneself inside of a “body of resurrection” (1 Corinthians 15:35–44; Romans 6:4). In other words, an experience of a deeper love entanglement absorbs all our negativity and nameless dread of life and the future. Paul’s code phrase for this positive, realigned place is en Cristo (in Christ), which is to live by choice and embodiment within the force field (“Mind”) of the Risen Christ.
I truly believe the only cure for possession is repossession—by our original Source. To use the language most often found in recovery circles, this is what a “vital spiritual experience”  does for all of us, whether we name it as Jesus, God, Spirit, Higher Power, or Love. Afterward, we simply know that we belong in this world, and that we are being held by some Larger Force. For some seemingly illogical reason life then feels okay and even good and right and purposeful. This is what it feels like to be “saved.”
 Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Plume: 2006), 30.
 Tolle, 140.
 Bill Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book (Ixia Press: 2019), 32.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Little Way: A Spirituality of Imperfection (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2007), MP3 download; and
Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Franciscan Media: 2011, 2021), xxviii–xxix, 108, 109.
Story from Our Community:
When my first marriage ended, I immersed grief in alcohol, drugs, women, and denial. Through an overdose, I met Jesus, “my savior.” I discovered my grief was not about the relationship ending, but thinking my desire to serve God was gone. Who would want me? The answer—God! Through this realization, I am able to serve God and my sisters and brothers as an addiction and mental health counselor. —Gary C.