SYMPTOMS OF RELIGIOUS ADDICTION
- Inability to think, doubt, or question religious information and/or authority
- Black-and-white, good/bad, either/or simplistic thinking: one way or the other
- Shame-based belief that you aren’t good enough or you aren’t doing it right
- Magical thinking that God will fix you/ do it all, without serious work on your part
- Scrupulosity: rigid obsessive adherence to rules, codes of ethics, or guidelines
- Uncompromising judgmental attitudes: readiness to find fault or evil out there
- Compulsive or obsessive praying, going to church or crusades, quoting scripture
- Unrealistic financial contributions
- Believing that sex is dirty; believing our bodies or physical pleasures are evil
- Compulsive overeating and/or excessive fasting
- Conflict and argumentation with science, medicine, and education
- Progressive detachment from the real work, isolation and breakdown of relationships
- Psychosomatic illness: back pains, sleeplessness, headaches, hypertension
- Manipulating scripture or texts, feeling specially chosen, claiming to receive special messages from God
- Maintaining a religious "high", trance-like state, keeping a happy face (or the belief that one should…)
- Attitude of righteousness or superiority: "we versus the world," including the denial of one’s human-ness.
- Confusion, great doubts, mental, physical or emotional breakdown, cries for help
- The ultimate temptation of the believer is to assume that his or her way to God is the best or only way for others. The particular Way to God becomes what is adored, not the ineffable and incomprehensible Mystery to which we give the name of God.
- In essence we have become addicted to the certainty, sureness or sense of security that our faith provides. It is no longer a living by faith, with hope and growing in unconditional love.
Adapted from When God Becomes a Drug, by Leo Booth
Reverend Leo believes that religious addiction, like alcohol addiction, is a behavior that can be treated.
He adapts the twelve-step program of the Alcoholics Anonymous to the particular problems of this dysfunctional behavior, and offers a step-by-step program of exercises and affirmations that help turn religious addiction into a healthy relationship with God.
The book also features a chapter on how to do an intervention to help others toward recovery, and a chapter for professionals who are treating victims of religious addiction and abuse.