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Monday, January 23, 2012

I found this question posted on and thought I would respond here.

“I wonder if there is any comparison between what Orthodoxy considers to be a "passion" and one who has become enslaved to his drinking habit in the teaching from the Father in this blog?

“I guess I'm thinking about the stages of progression of a "passion" like we see in the Philokalia as compared to one from the time he has his first drink to and thorugh the point to where it becomes a habit.”

A habit is different from an addiction.  A habit can be likened to laziness, since it usually is a mental ‘short-cut’ that we often take to avoid having to deliberate over every decision.  This is why we can talk about ‘good’ habits and ‘bad’ habits.  We try to develop good ones, like regular prayer or acting in a virtuous manner, while avoiding bad ones.

As much as a habit seems to be an ‘auto-pilot’ activity, it is a willful decision.  We decide to keep a habit, and though it may be difficult to break, a habit can be broken by a strong desire to end it.

The same is not true of addiction.  Yes, and addiction is a form of a passion, but it goes beyond a mere ‘bad habit’ since it is a breaking of the will and also extends beyond the particular behavior.  For example, if you have the bad habit of yelling at your spouse when he/she annoys you, this behavior does not necessarily mean that all of your human relationships are affected by this habit.

In the case of addiction, the addict affects all aspects of the addict’s life.  All of his relationships are colored by the addiction.  The addiction comes before all else in life.  Therefore, the passions are a fuel for addiction: the addiction runs on these underlying passions that must be cured in order for the addiction to cease.

This also means that treating addiction without touching the passions is an impossibility.

So, there is an important different between habits and addictions, and we will discuss this more as we continue.

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