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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Devil and the Drink

One of the other areas I have studied is essentially called 'demonology,' though to say that I consider myself a 'demonologist' or 'professional exorcist' is quite inaccurate.  It is a subject that I have been exposed to, involuntarily at times, in part through my experiences in dealing with alcoholism and addiction.

In modern Russia, there are numerous cases where demonic possession has been linked to alcoholism, and very often part of the treatment for alcoholism ends up involving exorcism.  This should be no surprise: alcoholism is a type of debauchery that demons would feel quite at home with.

We must be careful not to blame all our problems on the 'devil,' because even if he is active against us, it is only through our own availability to be tempted.  Yet, we cannot ignore that sobriety involves a spiritual war in which we will certainly be attacked.  There is more to addiction than mere psychology.

If one says that it is improbably that the demonic would have any existence or influence, one can only wonder why, then, that anyone would believe that God and positive help is not improbable.  If one is possible, why not the other?

AA and other 12 Step groups have steered clear of the topic of demonic temptation, in large part because AA is not a religion.  Furthermore, in the hands of a heretic, such discussions of demons quickly degenerates into the avoidance of accepting responsibility and repenting.  Even among Orthodox in confession, we must avoid the fallen temptation to blame other for our sins (i.e. "_______ made me do it.").

The 12 Steps are less about the influences on our decisions as it is about accepting personal responsibility for them and breaking the self-destructive cycle that comes from our broken will.  External affairs are generally handled by either professional counselors (here, you can think of marriage counselors as an example) or religious figures.  For an excellent exposition on the differences between religion and spirituality, read Fr. Meletios' Steps of Transformation.  Religion defines our external world, and so demonology is naturally best understood in that context.

I'm debating how much of this topic would be helpful to discuss here, which explains why I have not posted until now (that and lots of things going on recently).  However, I do think that understanding spiritual warfare is an important aspect of genuine recovery.


  1. Please write some more on the topic of demonology. Especially if it is connected to a 'broken will' in any way. Say how you can know you are affected by a demon and how you can be rid of it.

    I have often wondered why self-discipline just doesn't crack it with an addiction. Then of course you get so demoralized and think you're such a failure, then you give up completely because you can't see any hope.

    Great blog.

    1. I think I will ease into it. I don't want things to get 'cranky' on the blog.

  2. I remember when I used to drink every night and being tormented every night with that demonic sleep paralysis thing - all night.I bet you know what Im talking about.

    1. Sleep paralysis usually isn't demonic, but due to physiological issues -
      Of course, passing out from drinking is a little more than sleep paralysis, as in, "Where am I?" ;)

    2. Are you sure your not looking at it from a secular point of view?It seems pretty obviously demonic to me.Especially my experience of what happens when you pray the name of Christ at it.

    3. I'm pretty sure most cases are physiological. However, there are legitimate cases of demonic assault in sleep. I'm not ruling those out, but most cases are usually related to the body. The Fathers are also quick to point out that physical explanations for paranormal experiences should first be used before jumping to conclusions. Not every nightmare comes from the devil, and our imaginations can get the best of us.