The world as we know it may have stopped when the threat of COVID-19 forced us into quarantine. Yet in some ways, life also goes on. This is true for those struggling with addiction—be it from alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, food, drugs, online games, pornography, or others.
Addiction—that insatiable and irrepressible craving for something, to the point that it overtakes everything else in your life and poses serious harm to you and those around you—doesn’t stop, even for a deadly pandemic or stay-at-home orders. An addict may continue his obsession over porn or online gambling using his personal computer at home, while those addicted to alcohol or drugs have to wrestle with their demons alone in this period of social distancing.
Appropriately, Pope Francis’ prayer intention for April is “Freedom from Addiction,” particularly to pray “that those suffering from addiction may be helped and accompanied.” Each month for a year, our dear Lolo Kiko, through his Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, focuses on a specific issue or group of people to pray for, and encourages the faithful to join him.
“In our world and our Church, many of our brothers and sisters struggle with addictions,” wrote Fr. Andrij Hlabse, SJ, in the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network website. “Today the internet also provides an avenue for addictive behavior, including to internet use itself, to electronic devices, and to pornography. The latter is especially prevalent and known to have devastating effects on personal relationships. Which family has not experienced something of addiction’s difficulties?”
In your quiet moments, please include people with addictions in your prayers. You don’t have to know an addict to be able to relate to their problems. Everybody knows what it’s like to be misunderstood, anxious, have irrational thoughts and behaviors, feel alone or ostracized by others. It’s people going through these challenges that need our compassion, our understanding, our tough love, and our prayers, especially at a time when we cannot be physically present to offer them support.
“Whatever factors push a person toward addiction, as a result relationships are sure to suffer: one’s relationship with God, with family, with friends,” wrote Fr. Andrij. “Addiction can be a tremendously isolating experience. As a Church, as persons bound together to one another through our common love of God, we recognize and pray that individuals struggling with addiction not only have their needs met through appropriate professional help, but also that their relationships with God and others be strengthened and healed.”