Is drug abuse venial or mortal sin?

Is drug abuse considered a venial or mortal sin? If it is a mortal sin, what happens if someone dies from an overdose and has not had the chance to confess their sin?

Drug abuse constitutes grave matter. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) explains, “The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense” (CCC 2291).

Even so, a drug abuser may or may not be guilty of mortal sin. “For a sin to mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent” (CCC 1857).

As with anyone who dies with un-repented, un-forgiven mortal sin, a person who abuses drugs with full knowledge of the sinful character of drug abuse and complete consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice, and then dies without repentance and forgiveness, may not attain salvation. “If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back” (CCC 1861).

Ultimately, only God can truly know the outcome of such a tragedy. “[A]lthough we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God” (CCC 1861).

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