UP Catholic 05 05 2017 E Edition Page 12

BY FATHER BRIAN GERBER DIOCESE OF MARQUETTE The following is adapted from a homily on addictions given by Father Brain Gerber. I am a priest and a recov- ering compulsive gambler. Because of my addiction I ended up harming myself and my ministry. For those of you who have been hurt by my actions I am deeply sorry! I still struggle with the guilt. Facing this addiction about a year and a half ago and stopping gambling was one of the most dicult things in my life. However, the time since has been a tremendous blessing. Bishop John Doerfler asked the priests of the Diocese of Marquette to preach on addictions. Although I dont claim to be an expert, I feel I have some things to share and pray God will give me and my brother priests wis- dom and understanding. I know I would have spoken about it differently before I experienced what it's like to live with an addiction. Addictions can be to alco- hol, drugs, gambling, shop- ping, sex, food or anything else that is compulsive in a very negative way. Addiction is one of the most serious medical conditions in our so- ciety; bigger than cancer and heart disease put together. Many people in prison or in legal trouble have an addic- tion of some kind that influ- enced their troubles. This is a serious medi- cal crisis that we are faced with. The problem is that our society does not always treat addiction as a medical problem, but only a moral problem. If you get anything out of this homily I hope its this: addiction is primarily a medical problem. Most people think that go- ing to Mass more or going to confession more, or praying more will take the addiction away. Spiritual things are very important, but they are only a part of a bigger treat- ment program that treats the disease. Also, it doesnt just pick a certain class or race, it can affect anyone. If you don't treat it as a medical problem or a disease there can be di- sastrous consequences. A person with an addiction loses the ability to control what they are doing and they become preoccupied with the addiction. Now that doesnt mean that people do not have a desire to stop often times they do want to stop but it is very dicult and almost impossible to will yourself to stop. Also, people with an addiction are not bad people, but trapped in the grips of disease. For a person to stop their addiction two things have to happen. There has to be an intervention of some kind from others and the one with the addiction must have a 12 May 5, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC HEALTHWISE www.upcatholic.org Helping people with addictions get assistance SEE ADDICTION, PAGE 15

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