Amoris Laetitia 51: Substance Abuse

amoris laetitia memeTo speak of addictions is probably not speaking enough. The abuse of chemicals, food, sex, and other indulgences always results in collateral damage in family relationships. Always.

51. Drug use was also mentioned as one of the scourges of our time, causing immense suffering and even breakup for many families. The same is true of alcoholism, gambling and other addictions. The family could be the place where these are prevented and overcome, but society and politics fail to see that families at risk “lose the ability to act to help their members… We see the serious effects of this breakdown in families torn apart, the young uprooted and the elderly abandoned, children who are orphans of living parents, adolescents and young adults confused and unsupported.” (Argentinian Bishops’ Conference, Navega mar adentro (31 May 2003), 42.)

Families often lack the tools to handle substance abuse. Members always get caught up in the illness of the addict. And so those relationships are damaged. Without help, the damage can be beyond repair. That phrase “orphans of living parents” is all too true.

As the Bishops of Mexico have pointed out, violence within families breeds new forms of social aggression, since “family relationships can also explain the tendency to a violent personality. This is often the case with families where communication is lacking, defensive attitudes predominate, the members are not supportive of one another, family activities that encourage participation are absent, the parental relationship is frequently conflictual and violent, and relationships between parents and children are marked by hostility. Violence within the family is a breeding-ground of resentment and hatred in the most basic human relationships”. (Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Que en Cristo Nuestra Paz México tenga vida digna (15 February 2009), 67)

Let’s not deceive ourselves that today’s world is different from previous centuries. Alcohol has been abused far worse in the past. Blame was more able to be apportioned as addicts wished: children, spouses, bad luck, etc., but the truth is that addicts pull the wool over all eyes and bear the responsibility for their choices.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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