Friday, July 10, 2009

Is Getting Buzzed a Sin

Q: I learned in school that using mind-altering drugs is a mortal sin. Is it right that drinking is not a sin, but getting drunk is? If so, is getting high a mortal sin? What if I’m just getting buzzed using marijuana?

A: Drinking is not inherently an evil act. If it was, Jesus probably would have used grape juice at the Last Supper. However, getting drunk is considered a grave offense, not because of the alcohol but because of the excess. The Catechism of the Catholic Church shows that the problem with getting drunk is not in the act of drinking, but in the act of drinking too much. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, and it refers to any form of excess, or extreme and unnecessary indulgence – food, alcohol, medicine, etc. Drinking in excess places you in danger of being physically harmed, as well as to the people around you. (CCC, 2290)

The Catechism also covers the use of drugs under its section on respect for health. “The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.” (CCC, 2291) The Catechism clearly states the Church’s recognition that mind-altering substances are an offense to our life and health, which the Catholic Church views as “gifts entrusted to us by God” (CCC, 2288). Sorry, but there seems to be no real way of getting around it – even if you are only getting buzzed.

Maureen D.