Originally posted at: https://applyingmybeliefs.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/from-salads-to-casseroles/
For those that don’t know, there is an organization called “The American Society of Addiction Medicine” (ASAM). This organization and their website are primarily for physicians of course, but does have some useful and interesting information for us non-medical people. They have a short and a long definition of addiction on their website:
Here is the short version:
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.
This and the long version can be found here:
As I read this something quite odd struck me. This definition calls addiction a chronic disease, which I had heard before, but I had a new thought. I thought, “Why don’t churches look at this the same way they look at cancer, or heart disease or other significant chronic illnesses?” What is different?
As I pondered this, I came to a place I had come to before. At some level we in the church, mostly silently, believe that addiction is caused by sin, or even if we don’t struggle with that we are just plain uncomfortable with talking about glue sniffing or porn or hoarding or the many other addictions that are within our culture. And I also thought this, “Why don’t we also assume that heart disease or cancer are caused by sin?” There is much evidence that diseases like these are linked to the actions of our lifetime, for example colon cancer is linked to eating too much red meat to a certain extent; is this a product of the sin of gluttony at some level?
Anyway, my musing took me in a direction I didn’t expect, but felt the need to share.
In the church we care for each other. One of the great things churches do is to provide meals for those who have significant temporary troubles, including illnesses. We get a care calendar together and families volunteer to provide meals for a defined period of time. I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of this one time, as my wife recovered from some surgery. We had salads, and pasta dishes and chicken cooked many ways and of course the casseroles.
As I pondered this, I realized I had never heard of a church providing meals to a family who had put their son in a drug rehab. In cases of the major disease of addiction, which can devastate a family as deeply a cancer diagnosis can, the church doesn’t seem to provide care in this way. This could of course be partly due to that hidden thinking about addiction and sin from both the family affected and the church body.
Is this one of the reasons addicts and their families don’t recognize churches as caring places? Should churches endeavor to develop a care calendar for families affected by addiction?
What do you think?