Losing one's reason

When it comes to drugs, I am very opposed to them. I think marijuana alters the mind in a way it is not meant to be, and in any amount is like getting drunk. Getting drunk is immoral because one loses his reason on it. At least that is the reason old morality books say getting drunk is sinful. However, during sex you lose your reason as well. And there are also psychiatric drugs. An old friend of mine was telling me about using LSD back in the day, and he said “but then I tried Prozac latter on, and it just about ripped my head off. It was more powerful than LSD, at least for me. I had to get off it”.

So could anyone please explain this matter to me better? What does it mean to “lose your reason” and why is it sinful?

One does not “lose reason” during sex. Sure, blood leaves your head, to supply the, well, lower body, and you aren’t really using your head then anyways. :). But the effect is momentary, and is no more than the lethargy of mind we all feel after a big meal or while falling asleep.

“Losing one’s reason” isn’t really about these natural and normal abeyances of the rational mind, during times when it isn’t much in use anyway. Rather, it is about the suppression of our rational minds by drugs or other means when we should be using them, such that our minds no longer inform our physical actions.

Drunkenness is the classical example of that, as would the use of street drugs such as LSD, or practices such as the “choking game.” These are all to be avoided.

As to medical drugs that act on the mind, there may be a real need for them, but should be used only under medical supervision. While the medical need exists, the effect on the reason would be acceptable.


The way I read in the Baltimore Catechism is that when you abuse a faculty it is a sin. When you get drunk you are actually harming your body. The effect is because the substance has poisoned parts of you. Same with drugs. One is harming the body or using it in a way that is abusive of it, which takes advantage of the fact you have HEALTH to begin with… some people are born without health. So to misuse in such a manner makes it a sin… Kind of like a rich person burning money for fun in their pride of having so much in front of someone struggling to make ends meet… its a very arrogant unkind thing to do, even if that ‘money’ is in your possession to ‘burn’.

Do you mean ‘lose your reason’ during sex as in you lose control in orgasm? I’m not so sure ‘lose your reason’ is the same meaning or same thing here as it is in drug and alcohol abuse.

The difference between Prozac and other ‘controlled’ medical substances and street drugs is that its controlled. Your friend should notify his physician about the negative effect and the physician should then know to either change dosage or change prescription so that the negative effect does not happen. Street drugs have NO regulations or dosage limitations on them and therefore you don’t now what you could be harming yourself with. I remember a long time ago being at a party in which some kids were smoking marijuana only to find out it was laced with something- I think it was either cocaine or crack?- and they suffered the consequences. I remember hearing a few of them say they were really angry about it being laced with a substance they’d never agree to take, but I wondered why they felt so confident to trust in their drug dealer to care about something like that. !? Kind of a gigantic lapse in thinking there.

IN some cases that are medical, like in chemotherapy- the body has to go through something harsh (abusive to the body) in order that it may heal only because there is no other possible effective route known. Its either do or die sort of thing, therefore it is allowed…

...   I kind of think that is why its allowable that people can have a glass or two of wine or a cigarette here or there...  these substances (legal) help a person in some ways (relax, mellow out) and as long as its in moderate amounts, its allowable, but not really what is best for the body.    I don't remember the exact Scripture, but there is even a part in a letter I think from St. Paul to Timothy (maybe?) in which he encourages someone else to take a little wine for their stomach or ailment.   

In summary, the issue here is not so much ‘lose your reason’ as it is abuse of a good thing: your good health and your able body.

If by “lose your reason” you mean to go beyond logical and intentional thought in the moment, I would agree with you that in sex we tend to go beyond reason.

However, sexuality is reasonable. It has observable physicality. It has a spiritual dimension. It has order. All these things are discernible by reason.

A well reasoned life is one of integrated faith and reason. It is a life of discipline and virtue in pursuit of a higher good, rather that mere pleasure. A well reasoned life bears fruit, such as joy.

The joy of sex can be said to be the fruit of a conjugal life that is lived with faith and reason. Joy can be ecstatic. Joy lasts.
Mindless pleasure does not last, and it is not the fruit of reason. It is simply a feeling stemming from a reflex.

In joy we receive a glimpse of God, who is beyond our reason, but never contrary to it. So sexuality points us to this good together, as a fruit, not as a mere end in itself. Reason is not “lost”, it is fulfilled.

It was Aquinas in the Summa who said that one loses his reason during sex, that is were the idea come to me from. Sex is allowed by God though. Moderation seems to be the principle then. If someone has to have surgery and there is no morphine, I assume the person can drink alcohol until he blacks out. Adhd is often treated with stimulants, which is a serious drug, but they have the opposite effect on people with ADHD: it comes them down, relaxes them.

Even LSD was once used in therapy, with Cary Grant famously promoting it for its therapeutic effects. The bad affects of those drugs are well documented however, I have books on this. They can change the personality drastically, so they are opposed to reason.

However, suppose a new drug is discovered that makes a person dream vividly for ten minutes, making the person understand about his subconscious. Will the Church say “he is losing his reason so it is bad” or that this may be a legitimate experience? Since the Church doesn’t speak directly about any substance in particular, will it be up to the faithful to evaluate each new substance that will be coming out in the future? Or on the contrary will the Church be able to say “substance b is bad, bad substance j is ok”?

I’m not sure the loss of reason involved in substance use/abuse is comparable to the way in which reason is incorporated into sexuality, even though the act itself goes beyond reason.

The conjugal act does not violate reason, even though a person is not using reason at that moment.

The use of a substance that harms ones self seems to violate reason.

Ive use LSD in the past for a period of about a year and and half, I cannot say it causes you to loose your reason though. LSD is not like other drugs, it does not effect everyone the same way, and the same person can experience different effects each and every time, it really depends on what kind of person you are and what kind of mood you are in at the time you use it, mood and state of mind can DRASTICALLY effect the experience.

I can understand how some use it for therapeutic situations though, if the person is in the right state of mind, it can help to some degree, but it does not last.

Everything what you said here is so profound and correct. Thank you for posting it.

Could you provide a quote? Or at least a reference citation- I’m curious to read about that.

My concerns were that it would not be a legitimate understanding if it came from effect of a pill. …

You can’t feed a soul a substance in which the soul learns or grows from it. (other than the learning of experiencing something) Soul “food” only comes from God.

I also don’t understand how you equate your example of a substance that is ‘making the person understand about his subconscious’ with “loosing his reason”… You can’t loose reason and also gain understanding about your subconscious. I have met many a drug user that felt like they had mystical experiences while on heavy drugs, -some cited they were visited by aliens or angels and gained some sort of insight because of it, but in none of these have I witnessed any real fruit of having improved upon virtues. A real holy experience will cut like a two edge sword and you will change because of fear of the Lord. Something that is truly spiritual will not need something to manipulate the cells in your body to produce the experience.

Understanding is not possible whilst “losing reason.” The rational mind is what does the understanding.

One might as well speak of “understanding” whilst one is asleep, as in that body-state the rational mind is in an abeyance.


Substance abuse lead to un-reason.
Sex at the particular moment may not be utilizing reason.
Order opposed to dis-order.
There is a difference.

Aquinas has an article in the summa (in the marriage section) on whether sex is good

I think mystical experiences on drugs usually are a distortion of reason. Someone might afterwards be able to use the experience to understand something, but while in the state syllogisms and clear reasoning cannot be done. It’s more of a barrage of thoughts, many false but seemingly meaningful

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