How do you know that you are addicted?

And is addiction a sin? How to fight and defeat the addiction?

Addiction is being entrapped in slavery to something that has a hold on you. Usually addiction needs treatment since the force of acquired habit has overtaken rational behavior. So, if you crave something and cannot emotionally or physically withhold yourself then most likely you are addicted. I am not a doctor but I have seen addictions and they are truly debilitating.

In my opinion, addiction is something so devastating to one’s live and the lives of one’s loved ones that if you are getting even the most remote idea that you are developing a problem with a substance, you should stop using it. If you find that you can’t stop using, you should seek treatment. Even addictions to legal substances like tobacco aren’t worth it and effect your life negatively. My mom has be addicted to cigarettes for years and she has gotten so bad with it that she feels she can’t do or enjoy the things she used to love. (Enjoying the theater, visiting the homes of friends for extending periods of time, taking her grandkids on car trips, grand-daughter’s ballet recital, travelling in an airplane, going out to eat with friends and family, etc.) Even if she is able to “suck it up” and participate in these activities, she is miserable and makes others miserable because she can’t smoke.

I don’t know if addiction itself is a sin or not, but I know that it often leads to sinful behavior and in the case of illegal chemicals, it often stems from sinful behavior.

There are lots of treatment programs for different people and if a person thinks they are addicted, they should talk to their doctor.

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

ADDICTION. The state of being physically dependent on something, generally alcohol or drugs, but it can be any material object or experience. Addiction means increased tolerance, but also greater difficulty in withdrawal. In fact, the fear of withdrawal symptoms is the main obstacle even in persons who are convinced on moral grounds that they should overcome an addiction. The study of addiction has contributed to a major development in Catholic moral theology, through a better understanding of subjective guilt and a more effective pastoral care of persons with bad moral habits. (Etym. Latin addicere, to give one’s consent to a thing.)

If you have to ask, you’re probably addicted.

Usually, unless a person has hypochondria or is a scrupulous Southern Baptist.

I second this. If you are justifying yourself and telling yourself or other people, “I can quit any time I want to,” then there’s a good chance you have a problem of some kind.


There is the denial factor in addiction as well as the continual craving, both physical and psychological. From a practical perspective, when you need that cigarette or drink first thing in the morning to begin your day, that’s a good indicator you have a problem. As others have also mentioned, important aspects of your life suffer, including family relationships, work productivity, and friendships, as you begin to lose your sense of self-worth, your dignity, and your connections to the world. The substance you are addicted to becomes the main focus of your life.

12 step programs have good results in dealing with addictions and support for those who have family members or friends with addictions.
Step #1" We admitted we were powerless over alcohol----that our lives had become unmanageable" *insert particular addiction
Step #2 “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves (God)could restore us to sanity”

Okay so that is my case.

I may be addicted to entertainment(sports,music,movies,games,…). For most of my life i was a “normal guy”(as of my country standarts). I didn’t thought of masturbation, pre-marriage sex, profanity and simmiliar things as bad because i wasn’t that religious. I was simple an “i believe in God” guy. Not much else. I did attend church class however(or whatever its called). Until recently(less than a year ago) i found out that masturbation is sinful. Then on the fall of 2012 i became even more religious. I stopped pirating movies when i found out that piracy is sinful. Long story short, i removed alot of things from my life. So one day i was reading some bible verses and found out that sensuality is sinful(of curse sensuality isn’t sinful, but that is what i thought then). I became very angry i believe because i couldn’t enjoy my senses anymore(so no more entertainment) . So my faith was on its downfall(i was thinking everything can’t be a sin and that was pretty normal because in less than 1 year i lost a lot of things that i had almost all my life). But i regained my faith(not going to explain now). But that i believe was kinda normal for i guy that life was changed so quick. But sensuality as i latter found out is not even near to being a sin of curse.

But going on another example. I like entertainment(specifically my top four sports,movies,music and games) so much i even hope they will be in heaven(of curse i hope that for all of us not just me, i hope that in heaven everybody could take with them their favorite things). So is this a sign of addiction, because i don’t want to let these things go, not even in heaven? I also ask God that he would never take these things away from me while here on earth. Signs of addiction?

Also when some church member spoke too “be aware of video games, be aware of movies” and church members from another church took these subject very lightly, like no problem with video games,movies,… My first thought was im going to become a member of that church then. Of curse i corrected myself quickly.

But is that addiction? And if it is how to deal with it? I don’t want to get rid of entertainment, i just don’t want to be addicted. Also understand that entertainment is not even nearly close to God as a matter of importance. God is undisputed number 1 in my heart, its just i don’t want to sin against Him if im addicted(if addiction is a sin i don’t know). Please advise me what to do.

I think it would be better to describe this as “attachment”, not “addiction”. You are attached to these things, and that is worth paying attention to, but I don’t think your behaviors are self-destructive in the way that most things we dub “addictions” are.

Some people will say, “Don’t worry about it”, and that might be decent advice. You are not sinning whenever you enjoy yourself! God made a fun world because He wanted us to enjoy ourselves, and all creation is inundated by His glory: most of the things you love about entertainment are good things, and there is nothing wrong with them.

However, when you say that you need these things to be in heaven, it seems like there is at least some level of preferring the creation to the creator, which is a very mild form of idolatry. The Christian life has disciplines to help us fight this sort of mild idolatry. Chief among them is fasting. I encourage you to take specific 1-2 day fasts from entertainment, so that you are able to recognize that God is your help, and these things are not.

You might be interested in the book “Addiction and Grace,” by Gerald May. It’s about attachment really, not addiction, and it has some very helpful things to say.

Thank you for your reply!

I have to correct you i did not say i need these things in heaven i just say i hope they will be there(i don’t “need” them but i want to have hope they will be there). I love the creator countless times more than i love His creation. That is a FACT. But thank you very much for your help.

A worldly attachment would be sinful if you put it above God, your neighbor, or your personal obligations.

A true addiction is a psychological / mental disorder that the addict has little or no control over so I do not think an addiction would be sinful (or at least the addict would not be culpable).

Hmmm. Surely the great majority of addictions are rooted in a choice to avoid our brokenness, and choose sin instead. Down the line, culpability is lessened, when the will is compromised. But I think most addictions are fundamentally sinful, so I think saying “an addiction is not sinful” is a pretty major oversimplification.

To say something is a psychological disorder does not make it any less sinful.

(Side note: I am an addict, and the root of my addiction is definitely sin.)

OK, this might sound bad, but hear me out. I don’t think I believe you. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who loves God that much more than God’s creation. I think doing so is VERY hard, and it’s something we approach, but don’t necessarily get to.

Personally, I feel a passionate love for God in my own life, but I freely admit that I love certain created things more than God. I don’t like this about myself, and I want the grace to change. But I don’t think it’s awful that I’d rather listen to music and play cards than pray. I accept this about myself, and ask God to change me.

Imagine a marriage where the husband professes his intense love for his wife, and then spends most of his time ignoring her and doing other things. This is who I am in relation to God; I profess love, and then do other things. This is not a terrible thing, but I do need God to change my desires. I wonder if you might be in the same boat?

Then again, maybe you’re a saint. :o


Would you agree that it may appear to be odd coming to an anonymous forum for Catholic Answers asking a question about addiction?

With that in mind understand that it is forbidden to give medical advice on this forum however there is no consensus on addiction as a disease.

There are two schools of thought, the disease model=12 step religion of AA or Habit model that has nothing to do with disease.

On the other hand the disease model is bunk when you realize that what is considered a disease=Spiritual Disease=Sin, so any discussion on the disease model on this forum should be immune from any input as it regards the disease model.

You may find the issue of addiction confusing unless you know from which paradigm someone is drawing their information and provided to you. I suggest you get schooled in this and find out more. “The Truth about Addiction” Stanton Peele, PhD will help.

Understand that there is Psychological Addiction and Physical Addiction. A simple understanding of addiction is when whatever it is you do, either in thought or deed that prevents you from doing whatever you might normally do, ie work, socialize, go to Church that is preferred or creates an unhealthy lifestyle may be considered an addiction/bad habit.

I suggest you consider looking at habit in the Catechism and virtue, ie virtue being good habit and consider looking at habit and vice as opposed to addiction. You may find yourself mired in confusion looking at whatever it is you do in the context of the secular world as it understands addiction, since there is no consensus.

It is quite simple to see drinking, drinking to excess (habit), drinking to excess continually (bad habit) and vice (unable to eliminate the bad habit of drinking) and then of course the virtue of temperance.

Take a look at this from Stanton Peele, Phd.

Here’s my definition of addiction:

Addiction is a compelling, destructive involvement that – because it detracts from other areas of people’s lives – forces them to rely with greater exclusivity on the addictive experience they get from the involvement, whether with drugs or anything else.

I believe that Christianity suffers from the Secular World and the entire approach to addiction as it is manipulated by the 12 step disciples of the religion of AA.

Interesting. I just referenced Stanton Peele in another thread on addiction just before reading this one. I never bought the disease model either. It removes the person from a great deal of personal accountability, which is odd because 12 step programs call for a great deal of accountability but mostly in reference to simple abstention. Then with just one drink, or one pill the person can wipe out 20 years of 12 step “progress”.

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