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When God Becomes a Drug: Understanding Religious Addiction and Religious Abuse [Paperback]

Leo Booth
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 1998
Religious addiction, like alcohol addiction, is a dysfunction that can be treated. In this book, Father Leo adapts the twelve-step program of 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.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Treatment has never been more important Feb. 18 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I only wish this book had been more helpful than it is, but that is not the fault of the author. Religious addiction is a stubborn malady, and one that can best be confronted by the addict him/herself. As one who has lost at least one sibling to this painful affliction, I wish it could have given me an easy answer. There are no easy answers to this dilemma.
One of the brightest conclusions Father Leo makes is that one need not give up religion, or God, to develop a healthy spirituality. It would be an incredible challenge indeed, but he assures those who are seeking that giving up God is not the solution to confronting religious addiction. He is very clear about the difference between "religion" and "spirituality," something that is crucial in the healing process.
Father Leo also states that one can be addicted to atheism, and that atheism can be a religion in and of itself. Not necessarily that it is, but that it can become one.
The saddest and most frightening thing he points to is the inevitable outcome of mental breakdown if religious addiction is not treated. He outlines very carefully the possiblity of a loving intervention by those who are concerned for the addict, but when the addiction is religion (translated as "God" by the addict) denial comes way too easy and finding others willing to confront this denial is a very difficult challenge.
I was heartened to find that there is treatment for this addiction, there are places to turn. It is a relatively new field, but it gives me hope. I, too, wish there was acknowledgement of the harm this addiction does to the children of the addict -- but I don't know that I would put any state agency in charge of dealing with it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book on a misunderstood subject Aug. 17 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In this book, Fr. Leo outlines the problem of being addicted to religion. He outlines the steps one can go through as the addiction comes to dominate one's life, and outlines the steps necessary to break free from this addiction. Being a religious addict myself, I really enjoyed this book. He described my life to a 't' in this book, and it has helped me break the chains of religious addiction and has helped me attain a more healthy spirituality. If you even suspect you might have a problem with your religiousity, I highly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource Sept. 19 2013
By Kim S.
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first read this book on loan from the public library almost 20 years ago. It helped me identify negative behaviours in a belief system I had been exposed to from childhood and I started learning how to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy spirituality.

I purchased the book now as a resource in helping other people who are making a similar journey to my own.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book on a misunderstood subject Aug. 17 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In this book, Fr. Leo outlines the problem of being addicted to religion. He outlines the steps one can go through as the addiction comes to dominate one's life, and outlines the steps necessary to break free from this addiction. Being a religious addict myself, I really enjoyed this book. He described my life to a 't' in this book, and it has helped me break the chains of religious addiction and has helped me attain a more healthy spirituality. If you even suspect you might have a problem with your religiousity, I highly recommend this book.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Religious addiction and abuse April 15 2001
By "sagebrushsam" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Booth defines religious addiction and abuse then goes over a twelve step program of recovery. This book shines a light into the dark recesses of religious abuse. The person who is the most addicted and abusive may very well be the person who is admired by outsiders for their religious conviction. The children and spouses see a very different picture. I think this book would be helpful to someone who was willing to consider the possibility that they have a problem. I think it is more likely to be read by someone affected by another's addiction than by the addict herself. Booth says he has success in his practice of working with religious addicts so perhaps they can be helped. In my experience though it seems that the people who fit his description of a religious addict are the ones who would never consider that they may be wrong or that their religion is causing a problem. For these cases Booth presents ideas for staging an intervention when the addict/abuser will not admit to the problem. Good luck.
One problem I have with the book is his anti-atheist bias. He wants to bring the people to a better spirituality but considers atheism to be a negative outcome. He sees it as a backlash to abuse. He must be aware that people can arrive at atheism in many different ways. He seems pretty open minded otherwise. People who want a healthier relationship to their faith without giving it up should be comforted by the fact that he is in no way trying to talk them out of their faith. He is a man of the cloth himself.
I'd recommend this book for someone who thinks his or her religious involvement may be getting out of hand. For the abused children or spouse of an addict it's a start only. I'd like to see a lot more awareness that religion can be used in such a damaging way and this book is a step in that direction. Abused children are in the worst position since society doesn't really recognize this type of abuse and is not prepared to do anything about it. (I read the hardbound version.)
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Treatment has never been more important Feb. 18 2004
By Cathleen M. Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I only wish this book had been more helpful than it is, but that is not the fault of the author. Religious addiction is a stubborn malady, and one that can best be confronted by the addict him/herself. As one who has lost at least one sibling to this painful affliction, I wish it could have given me an easy answer. There are no easy answers to this dilemma.
One of the brightest conclusions Father Leo makes is that one need not give up religion, or God, to develop a healthy spirituality. It would be an incredible challenge indeed, but he assures those who are seeking that giving up God is not the solution to confronting religious addiction. He is very clear about the difference between "religion" and "spirituality," something that is crucial in the healing process.
Father Leo also states that one can be addicted to atheism, and that atheism can be a religion in and of itself. Not necessarily that it is, but that it can become one.
The saddest and most frightening thing he points to is the inevitable outcome of mental breakdown if religious addiction is not treated. He outlines very carefully the possiblity of a loving intervention by those who are concerned for the addict, but when the addiction is religion (translated as "God" by the addict) denial comes way too easy and finding others willing to confront this denial is a very difficult challenge.
I was heartened to find that there is treatment for this addiction, there are places to turn. It is a relatively new field, but it gives me hope. I, too, wish there was acknowledgement of the harm this addiction does to the children of the addict -- but I don't know that I would put any state agency in charge of dealing with it.
One other concern that I have as I continue to study this subject is the subtlety of its intrusion into politics. When it comes to addiction, there IS no separation of church and state. In fact, this separation, if it exists at all, *only* exists for the state -- not for any church, unless it benefits *them*. They don't pay taxes, but they still find it perfectly acceptable to advocate for legislation from the pulpit and to lobby our representatives and to pass out post cards for the congregation to fill out in the middle of a service. It's a despicable practice, and one that becomes even more troublesome within the context of spiritual addiction.
Treatment for this malady has never been more important than it is today.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helped me see my fears that i displaced for "God" Jan. 3 2008
By A. Mendelovitz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is amazing. i read the older version. It taught me how what i thought was certain powers and divine messages and things the world was showing me were really my own fears that i misplaced and transformed into a god. This book and the help i later recieved from a therapist were able to return me back to society in a more wordly way. This book was fantastic in that it helped show me how when i was suffering i was creating false illusions and ways out of it through God thinking that God would solve all my problems, when in fact i needed to confront my emotional issues in real life. I am very greatful for Father Leo for taking me out of my religous persecution i was brining on my self and showing me how i was torturing myself emotionally in the name of God. How these tortures were not based on God but on my own fears and my desires to heal myself. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who feels that they are treating themselves poorly in the name of god. For example anyone beaeting themselves up believing sex or masterbation is wrong while it is a gift the earth has granted us.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and well written July 10 2013
By JoeK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Father Booth gently takes the reader, who may have been harmed by religion, and guides him or her on a journey of self-healing. I personally could relate to many of Father Booth's points of reference regarding growing up in a culture of strict religious ideals. This book is ideal for anyone who wishes to finally encounter a loving and forgiving God, who strives for an intimate relationship with us just as we are.
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