Drugs, Disease and Responsibility

Drugs, Disease and Responsibility

It is I who have sinned and done great evil.” 1 Chronicles 21:17

Whenever I have been confronted with my destructive behavior, I have always attempted to minimize, justify and deflect, in an effort to avoid responsibility. When my first chemical dependency counselor told me then, that my addiction was a disease, just like brain cancer, I liked the concept. This isn’t my fault. I can’t be blamed.

This is the problem that most people have with the disease model of addiction – that it appears to alleviate responsibility. Personally, I see my drug addiction as a symptom of the greater disease of my flesh nature, which has a thousand defects, all seeking to point me to self instead of God. It can only be described as pathologic (diseased) behavior, to pursue me at such great cost to my loved ones and myself.

If the word disease bothers you though, I wouldn’t get too hung up on it. I would insist that we have all have destructive flaws of our flesh nature, which we did not choose. We are not necessarily responsible for our predisposition to anger, lust, greed or selfishness, but we are the only ones responsible for the toxic behavior that stems from those flaws.

Today’s passage clearly states that it was Satan who provoked David’s pride, inciting him to take a census of his army. David may not have been responsible for his defective predisposition to pride and he certainly was not responsible for Satan’s actions, but he was the only one responsible for his choice. When confronted with the consequences, David appropriately took responsibility. I have sinned.

Whether or not we embrace the disease model, we must realize our responsibility in our struggles. Like adult onset diabetes, we may or may not have caused it, but if we have it and refuse treatment, we will suffer grave consequences.

If, however, we will daily do what it takes to address our struggles, deny self and turn to God, we will embrace His treatment for our condition as we pursue joy and life instead of misery and death.

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  1. Renee Garrick says:

    Your explanation separating flaw from action is so clear. I had not considered addiction from this perspective until I read your words. Thanks.

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