Spirituality/Medicine Interface Project

Spirituality and Addiction

Authors: William R. Miller, PhD, Michael P. Bogenschutz, MD

Abstract

A Mysterious Overlap


Drug use and spirituality have a curiously intertwined history. Some world religions eschew or prohibit the use of certain drugs, for example, the banning of alcohol within Islam and Mormonism. The ancient aphorism spiritus contra spiritum implies a mutual incompatibility of alcohol and spirituality: each drives out the other. Substance dependence is, by diagnostic definition,1 a process whereby the drug progressively displaces previous priorities, relationships and values, and becomes the central concern of a person’s life—a modern analogue of idolatry.

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