Do I have a substance abuse problem?


I’m sorry to write a novel here, but I’m pouring my heart out on this one.

Not sure where to begin here. When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with a series or neurological disorders, and given all kinds of medications for them. The effects of these ranged from making me super-hyper, to knocking me out completely. When I reached junior high, we found the right combo of meds to “balance me out.” Needless to say, when you’re the kid with a messed up brain, you get bullied, which is probably why when I reached my junior year of high school, I decided to join the military and as a result discontinued all use of these meds (this was 2005, they didn’t care who they let in back then, even if they were able to find medical records.) By that time I was able to live what most people would consider a normal life, and have had a successful military career, earned a bachelor’s degree, and am doing the corporate thing and working hard to achieve new things every day, but…

All of that is only what appears on the surface. Ever since I became an adult, I’ve always had something I’ve depended on to get me through life. It started with excessive drinking, and chain smoking. Then I became addicted to the physical aspects of the relationships I was in, then I went back to drinking a lot, then it was chewing tobacco with a combination excessive (REALLY excessive) caffiene and alcohol. Throughout the course of this I experimented with harder drugs too. About six months ago I got to a point where I was drinking by myself every night to relieve my job stress, then the next morning I would chug coffee until I was awake, put some Visine in my eyes, and make it look like nothing had happened the previous night.

Recently I started smoking marijuana every night, and since then I’ve been able to control my drinking (which is definitely a necessity around other people.) After all of this I actually feel like marijuana helps me in pretty much every aspect of my life. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore, I don’t need other substances, and I am now living as close to normal of a life as has ever been possible for me. I feel human for once.

Now you have a significant part of my story, I also desire deeply to live life as a Catholic. I have never been able to dismiss Catholicism from being the ultimate truth. This is what I want, but in the past when I’ve tried, Catholicism became something of an addiction, then I went back to drinking excessively. Being Catholic, and living it, is impossible for me, I will always slip up. I can’t just go to Confession every week and keep confessing the same things. The point of repenting is that you’re sorry for your sins, and you don’t intend to commit them again. I am definitely sorry for the things that I do, but am not so sure I am able to not commit them again. It’s like if I try, I’ll just fail again. That would be an abuse of the Sacrements. A part of me feels like I can control my use of substances, and a part of me feels like I can’t.


I’ve gone through periods where I felt like I couldn’t really repent. What I did was, I kept thinking about it, I kept wanting to repent and I kept going to Mass. I didn’t receive any sacraments at the time, but I kept going to Mass and wanting to repent. Eventually I was able to get more under control and return to the sacraments.


the short answer is yes. You should be in counseling as well as attending something like AA or NA to help you along. you are in my prayers.


Yeah, it sounds like you have traded one drug (alcohol) for another (marijuana).
Please get help. Start with free help at either AA or NA meetings. Go online to find a meeting near you:


This is common, actually. It’s part of the psychology of addictions. Have you ever noticed when someone who is trying hard to give up smoking will often turn to overeating?

I’ve been told by a friend of mine who’s been AA for years that when we give up one addiction, it’s very easy to just replace it with another, as if by giving up one, a kind of vacuum is created for another addiction to fill! Strange, but indeed, there’s definitely something to that.

I see this more as a substance abuse issue than a sin issue. Yes, it’s a sin, but I think the way to go about fixing it would probably best be through a counselor and a 12-step program, but NOT by yourself.

Oh, and incidentally, I’d agree with the OP that Catholicism IS the ultimate truth! :thumbsup:

Good luck and God bless! :slight_smile:


Congratulations! I’m working hard to achieve things, perhaps not every day, but often for weeks at a time without even a day of rest. I haven’t completed a bachelor’s degree. Nor can any paid work that I have ever done be reasonably described as a “career.” Maybe – in a future thread or private message – you can explain in general terms how you accomplished these things.

Could you clarify what you meant by the part that I underlined above? If some part of your attitudes influenced you to recoil from Catholicism as though it were an addictive substance, then isn’t that where the problem lies?


Alas, you have a problem. Good news, you can overcome it. All you need is a will to do it, someone you trust and know you well and God. It will not be a easy ride, but I am sure you can make it, if you REALLY want to. Start today, do not wait and do it in a way you know you can, but do not think it will take a few weeks or a month, or two. It will take time. And quit one substance at the time. Start with grass, and remember, I you want to make it, you will. And be honest to yourself, but I think you are, that is why you did write about your problems. That was step one, take the next one now. God bless, I will remember you in my prayers.


Yes it sounds as though you do and you’re self-medicating which is pretty common. The best approach would be to seek out a mental health professional and a physician who can help determine how addicted you are and if you need to be medically detoxed. You may not need rehab, some people don’t and can get by just going to meetings. Don’t be so hard on yourself either, you can still be a good Catholic and a good person even with a substance abuse problem, at least I know a few. I’ll say a prayer for you. This is a rough time of year to quit drinking but with God’s help it can be done. :thumbsup:


This is well stated. Perhaps you need medication again if you are self medicating.
You don’t mention if you’re taking any medications for neurological problems anymore.
There have been some great advances in the effectiveness of medications from years back. Certainly worth a visit to an MD as well as treatment if necessary and a support group for addictions if that is the case.


Obsessions, addictions, compulsions, repetitive thinking (OCD). post traumatic brain disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, and others all come under the umbrella of an anxiety disorder. In a strange way, all of the stimulants basically have an effect upon the low serotonin, especially the marijuana. But you need to look at what exactly it might be doing to you. Are you smoking the marijuana? Is there a component that helps the anxiety-like symptoms? What are the long term effects? Do some reading on nutritional support to calm the entire system… Julia Ross '"The Mood Cure " has tests that help determine where you might be deficient, then you read the appropriate chapter and learn about good, safe supplements.

Meanwhile visit an AA or NA and read a few books.

Good question for anyone to ask: Do I have a substance abuse problem?

PS You might also want to look at sensory/neurological disorders–there is much new on that scene in terms of calming the system safely.

Good luck.


I think many of us tend to confess the same sins over and over, depending on our temperaments, habits, history, etc.

From the Catechism: 1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

Don’t give up. Keep going to confession, keep reading the Bible and spiritual readings that help you. Catholicism, devotion to Christ, is the best addiction you can have. And pray.

Please listen to this and I pray it helps you: “How Can One Stop from Repeating the Same Old Sins in Confession?”


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit