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When God Becomes a Drug

"A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance."1

"My name is Leo. I am an alcoholic, a co-dependent, a religious addict and a religious abuser. I am a recovering priest." This is how the Rev. Leo Booth, an Episcopal priest introduces himself.

As a recovering alcoholic he has been sober for over a decade and a half but also points out that he is recovering from a very narrow-minded religion.

Author of the book, When God Becomes a Drug, Booth points out that for some people, religion is as much an addiction as alcoholism, smoking, problem gambling, and work addiction. Religious addicts want God or Jesus to take away their pain and problems without accepting personal responsibility for them.

"For many years," Booth said, "I was asking God to help me with my drinking, asking Jesus to give me courage and strength to resist drinking too much, asking the Holy Spirit to help me with my alcoholism. But I wasn't putting the cork in the jug…. The more I drank the more extreme I became in my religious practices, medicating my guilt with ritual and dogma."

Religious addiction can be just as destructive to the family as any other addiction because the addict is in denial and isn't facing his real problems nor accepting responsibility for his recovery.

Like the alcoholic, the only hope he has for recovery is to quit lying to himself, admit exactly what he is and say, "I have a problem. I need help." He then needs to get into an effective recovery program to help him quit his self-destructive acting out (hiding behind his religion), and overcome his problem.

The biblical mandate for healing and recovery is simple but not easy, but it's the only way to recovery: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed."2 (See footnote for additional help.)3

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to face reality, admit to any addictive or destructive behaviors in my life, confess these to you and to at least one safe person, and (with your help) accept responsibility for getting the help I need to overcome my problem/s. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Proverbs 28:13 (TLB)(NLT).
2. James 5:16 (NIV).
3. For help see "Counseling Resources" including "Celebrate Recovery" at


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.