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Addictions

Abstinence from alcohol, illicit drugs and gambling is part of living into the life God has prepared for us.


Young Adults gather in a circle

Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to physical dependency, addiction, or both. Physical dependency is a person’s body requiring the drug in order to function. Not taking the drug can lead to significant withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is compulsive use despite the harmful consequences. Addiction can include a physical dependency.

Drug and alcohol abuse can have devastating effects on individuals, families and communities. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and alcohol is a significant contributing factor to many risky behaviors that cause tragedy and illness. Gambling addiction harms not only the individual, it harms families and the community.

Successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the approach taken for other chronic diseases.

U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse

There are many reasons people abuse drugs and alcohols or develop a gambling addiction. Genetics and family history play a role. As does mental illness. Too often we treat physical dependence and addictions as moral failings and further stigmatize users. Addiction is a disease. To make widespread change to the rate of addiction we should view these a medical realities, and help people seek treatment.

Treatment works. Like other chronic illness, physical dependence and addiction can be managed. According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Relapse rates for addiction resemble those of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma.” They go on to say, “Unfortunately, when relapse occurs many deem treatment a failure. This is not the case: Successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the approach taken for other chronic diseases.”

What the Bible and The United Methodist Church Say:

The United Methodist Church has long believed that abstinence from alcohol, illicit drugs and gambling is part of living into the life God has prepared for us. The Church promotes a compassionate response encouraging therapeutic assistance for people who suffer from addiction. “We affirm our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol as a faithful witness to God’s liberating and redeeming love for persons.” (Social Principles, ¶162.L) and “The Church should promote standards and personal lifestyles that would make unnecessary and undesirable” to resort to gambling. (Social Principles, ¶163.G)

The church also supports government regulation to restrict the sale and access of alcohol, tobacco and controlled substances. It also encourages treatment, rehabilitation and ongoing life-changing recovery.

Three Things You Can Do:

  • Contact your local community leaders to find out what is happening in your community to prevent addiction in the first place and offer to help.
  • Talk about these issues with members of your congregations. We’ve created this worksheet to help you reflect biblically and theologically about health care.
  • Find others in your church and community with whom you can share both your passion for substance abuse and gambling prevention and the ability to develop strategies for local efforts.

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