Can religion help deal with addictions?

Of course it can! I have long believed religion is crucial to helping people overcome addictions and deal with the challenges of life. I read this article today on Tantalus Prime that indirectly lends support to my opinion:

If you ascribe to the dopamine theory of reward, then you should also contend that replacing drugs with something else that activates dopamine release (a chat with a loved one, taking the kids to an amusement park, strolling through an art gallery) would be essential. Economic opportunity, a sense of community, recreational activities and generally something more to live for than a temporary high would do more to abate drug use in this country than many of the other methods used today. Which I think goes along with Ms. Satel’s opinion that addiction needs a behavioral rather than medical solution.

Trying to reform behavior directly is often ineffective, but helping the people change their environment will have a much more lasting effect. President Boyd K. Packer has said this:

I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior. –Boyd K. Packer, Ensign May 1997

Another quote is fitting:

The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature. –Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign July 1989

2 Responses to Can religion help deal with addictions?

  1. I agree that religion can help people. However, as I am a non-theist, I don’t believe it is necessary. The more important factor is having the support of a community, be that a church, fraternal organization, or AA. Religion would not work for me if I were to, hypothetically, be an addict trying to fight my cravings. But if it helps others, I have no problem with that.

  2. Steven says:

    Yes, I agree with you. Having a community is crucial, as you say. Religion for me is the ideal community, but that aspect of the community is by no means necessary.

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