If someone is psychologically addicted to an over the counter medication, but isn’t using it to get high or anything dangerous, is it a sin? The person is afraid that she wouldn’t be able to function if she stopped taking the medicine.
That person should see a doctor and deal with their health issue rather than wondering if it is a sin.
Fear is not a sin. But the fearful person should seek help.
I believe the word you’re looking for is “dependent,” not addicted. There’s a very important distinction to be made between the two terms.
Dependence is a psychological or physical reaction or state to continuous and repeated exposure to a substance, and dependence is independent of addiction, although it is always an aspect of substance addictions. Dependence on its own is morally neutral. One can be dependent on a substance without being addicted - a diabetic dependent on insulin isn’t an “insulin addict.”
Addiction on the other hand is compulsive use of a substance, even in the face of severe adverse side effects and consequences. Substance addiction is an intrinsic moral evil, a disease of sin and result of fallen human nature.
I’m a 15 year recovering heroin addict, so I have firsthand knowledge and experience of these issues, and I’ve also studied pharmacology and addiction medicine quite a bit.
As an aside, what medication is this person taking and why? If one finds themself dependent on any OTC medication, they should seek medical help because they probably have some underlying condition which may require more extensive treatment.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
If this person is dependent on something to the point that she believes she cannot function without it yet also feels that there aren’t any adverse effects to taking this OTC medication, then she is likely fooling herself.
She should seek medical advice.
This is something that should be addressed with one’s physician and priest confessor.
As noted, we are sincerely sorry to hear of your struggles. However, the CA Forums are unfortunately not set up to provide intense spiritual counseling. Our best advice is for you to seek out a good priest on the local level who knows you or can get to know you because he’ll be treating you in the most fruitful counseling environment: a three-dimensional one. You may also wish to consider getting other support on the local level from a licensed counselor who is respectful of your Catholic Faith.
Regarding counselors, if needed, we recommend you contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute.
And Catholic Therapists.
May you in time know the healing balm of God’s peace (Jn. 14:27). God bless you.