UP Catholic 02 05 2016 E Edition Page 18

A ddiction can be extremely harmful, and in some cases, fatal for those individuals ensnared by it. It can be seriously disruptive and damaging to those around them. Who is to blame when it comes to addiction? Family and friends may think to themselves, Why cant Jane just stop drinking? Or, Doesnt Joe understand that his fambling addiction is bankrupting the family? Or, Cant Bob see how his pornography habit is destroying his mar- riage and his rela- tionships? For those facing addiction, it seems they ought to be able to recognize their behavior as harmful, and turn away from it by a resolute decision. Family and friends, however, can face years of frustration when they see their loved ones fall into a slow motion crash and burn, spiraling downwards as they remain unwilling or unable to step away from their addiction. The individual caught in the web of addiction objectively falls prey to a loss of personal freedom. His will becomes weakened, and he becomes enslaved in a way that limits his ability to recog- nize the right order of goods in his life. By repetitively choosing the addictive behavior, it becomes ingrained, and the ability to choose better, alterna- tive behaviors becomes enfeebled, if not seemingly impossible. For these reasons, there is almost always dimin- ished personal responsibility in situa- tions of addiction. To be accountable for our acts, we must freely choose those acts, but the internal pressure and downward spiral of the addiction may have already co-opted the individ- uals ability freely to choose otherwise. Eventually this bondage can appear to be permanent, and addicted individ- uals can imagine themselves pathetic and hopeless to such a degree that they almost give up. In the words of a formerly-addicted individual: I believe that I did not have a choice to stop. It never became clear to me that I could live another way until a medical intervention from my physi- cian and friends took place. Willpower plays a small role here, but it too can- not work if one has a malfunctioning brain. I speak for myself here I could not stop. Period. Now, I have stopped. Not just because of the intervention, but because I have turned my life and my will over to the God of my under- standing. That is something 12 step programs have taught me. This radical loss of freedom lies at the heart of the tragedy of addiction. Because we are creatures of habit, the choices we make, either for good or for evil, form us in one direction or the other, so we become individuals who are either capable or incapable of choosing the good freely. Virtue is a habit of good, while vice is a habit of evil. Early choices leading down the road towards addiction, freely made, can quickly snowball into vice, addic- tion and a loss of freedom. As one re- covered addict graphi- cally described it: My beef is with those who claim that they never chose to become an addict or never chose to hurt their families. While we likely didnt intend to end up helpless, dysfunctional people who [hurt] our loved ones, the choices we made put us at risk of ending up in a sorry state where we were capable of doing things we would have never dreamed of. Unless you were raised on Mars, we all deep down knew the risk of our choices, especially if youre talking about coke, crack, meth, or heroin but we chose to roll the dice anyways. At a certain point, when I was starting to do coke almost every weekend, I knew that it would be wise to stop, but I chose not to because I was having fun and I told myself it will never happen to me. By the end, I was going on solo three day benders with alcohol and cocaine, and I landed in treatment. my point is that I made the choice to try the substance, the choice to begin to use the substance more regularly, and the choice not to quit when I could have. While there may have been signifi- cant moral culpability at the beginning of an individuals descent into addic- tion, it is still critical for us to never stigmatize, patronize or abandon those who are in the throes of addiction. They may feel they are defined entire- ly by their addiction, unlovable and wretched, rather than seeing that they are, in fact, human beings who are pre- cious to God and those around them, and even now endowed with some tiny space of remaining freedom. That tiny space will become key to determining whether they ultimately choose the behavioral changes needed to improve their situation and recover the human freedom that is rightfully theirs. We should support, encourage and love them in ways that will help lead them toward those good choices and suc- cessful outcomes. Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neurosci- ence from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. See www.ncbcenter.org 18 February 5, 2016 THE U.P. CATHOLIC COMMENTARY www.upcatholic.org j MAKING SENSE OUT OF BIOETHICS Father Tad Pacholczyk, Ph. D At the heart of the tragedy of addiction 1. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and absti- nence. Abstinence is also to be observed on the Fridays of Lent. 2. Fasting is required of all the faithful in good health from the age of 18 to the beginning of their 60th year. Abstinence binds everyone over the age of 14. 3. Fasting is usually interpreted to mean one full meal and, if neces- sary, two other small meals. One should not eat between meals, but milk, fruit juices, and other liquids are permitted. 4. Abstinence means no meat should be eaten during the entire day. 5. Anyone unable to observe the fast or abstinence obligations because of health or other serious reasons should substitute another penance. Lenten Regulations Does Your CD Pay You This Much? With a Diocese of Marquette Charitable Gift Annuity you can earn a high rate of return AND earmark a Christ-centered planned gift that supports diocesan Catholic Schools, Legacy of Faith, your parish, or another Diocese of Marquette program. Your annual income can be immediate or deferred, on one life or two. Rates are guaranteed. A portion of your annual income is tax-free, plus you receive an immediate charitable income tax deduction. Single Life Rates* * Double life rates available Minimum Age 55 years, Minimum investment $5000 Please return to: Terri Gadzinski 1004 Harbor Hills Drive, Marquette, MI 49855-8897 tgadzinski@dioceseofmarquette.org 1-800-562-9745 ext. 108 Request a free, no obligation charitable gift proposal today! $5,000 $10,000 $20,000 Other $______ Name:____________________________________________________ Date of Birth:_____________________ Address:__________________________________________________ Phone:______________________E-mail________________________ What is Your Gift Annuity Payment Rate ? 9.0%........................................................ 8.0%........................................................ 7.0%........................................................ 6.0%........................................................ 5.0%........................................................ 4.0%........................................................ Age 55 65 75 85 90 4.7% 5.8% 7.8% 9.0% .

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