You may have heard the saying to “slay your inner demons” with regard to vices and bad habits that trouble us, but do demons really exist in addictions to drugs and alcohol? As Heaven, Hell, angels, demons, good and evil are all under the realm of the spiritual, theological and supernatural, the laws of contemporary science don’t directly apply to them. As such, there are no scientific conclusions in applying spiritual terms to drug and alcohol addiction.
Science is the pursuit of explanations of how the natural world works, and until spiritual entities can be scientifically proven, most scientists and doctors will exclude the supernatural from their research and examinations. However, for people of Christian faith, including the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (Bill W. and Dr. Bob), God (i.e. a “higher power”) is integral to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps program that they created. They believed that addiction is so powerful that people cannot overcome it on their own without the help of a higher power. Bill and Dr. Bob don’t view AA as a religion, but when Bill met with Catholic Jesuit priests at the Sodality Headquarters, he discovered that the renowned Catholic theologian St. Ignatius had comprised a list of Spiritual Exercises that paralleled the Twelve Steps.
What Does the Bible Say About Addiction?
Many Christians believe there are individual demons associated with vices like lust, greed, vanity, sloth and the other Seven Deadly Sins. Jesus and his disciples drove “unclean spirits” and demons from people, freeing them from their vices, their “addictions” and their way of life that would otherwise have led them to certain death.
Though drug and alcohol use may not cause demonic possession, it can invite demonic possession, according to the following scriptures: Galatians 5:19-20,“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery (in Greek, pharmakeia), enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions…”Revelation 18:23,“and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery (Greek, pharmakeia).”
In both of these passages, the word sorcery is translated to the Greek φαρμακεία pharmakeía, which is where we get the word pharmacy. In Greek, pharmakeia is defined as sorcery, black magic, and the use of magical incantation with drugs. Sorcery is also associated with demonic activity in the bible as it uses unbiblical means to summon spirits, cast spells and foretell the future. It is not permitted by God.
Fallen Angels of Addiction
In the Christian tradition of Heaven, when “fallen angels” were cast out of Heaven by Archangel Michael, these fallen angels became demons that “prowl about the Earth seeking the ruin of souls.” They will attack weakness in humans and anything that God loves, and when a weakness in any human is present,Christians believe it will draw the attention of demons as an opportunity to destroy that person’s eternal spirit. Hence the warning in Galatians to avoid behavior that can make one vulnerable to evil.
The Spirit of Success over Addiction
For the faithful, there is hope. Demons are limited, created beings and can never match the omnipotent power of God. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, aren’t theologians or experts on theology, and they didn’t publicly talk about evil in addiction.
However, they found recovering alcoholics achieved more success when they called on the help of God as a higher power to give them strength and freedom to help them overcome their addiction. Bill and Dr. Bob found through experience that when the spiritual content of the Twelve Steps is ignored, alcoholics can seldom remain dry. “That is our A.A. experience,” said Bill W., “We stress the spiritual simply because thousands of us have found we can’t do without it.” (N.Y. State 3. Med., Vol. 44, Aug. 15, 1944)