Addiction Theology

Bible Texts on Alcohol and Strong Drink

There are a total of 242 references to wine and strong drink in the Bible. Most of those references present a positive view of wine, but about 40 could be categorized as admonitions and warnings. There are 17 warnings against abusing alcohol, 19 examples of people abusing alcohol, 3 references to selecting leaders based on drinking habits, and one advocating abstinence if drinking would cause a brother to stumble.

The following is a comprehensive listing of these passages




Genesis 9:21,24

When he (Noah) drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent…. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done …..

drunkenness; descriptive;

no moral drawn but undesirable consequences; yayin 

Genesis 14:18

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram……

descriptive; no reference to drunkenness; no evidence of disapproval; wine as ancient staple; yayin

Genesis 19:30-38

 (Lot’s older daughter said) Let’s get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line… That night they got their father to drink wine, … Let’s get him to drink wine again…..So they got their father to drink wine that night also ….

yayin (4x)  

Genesis 27:25,28,37

Jacob brought it to him (Isaac) and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank…. May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine…. I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine.

new wine=tirosh

Genesis 43:34

So they (Joseph’s brothers) feasted and drank 

freely with him… 

descriptive; no reference to drunkenness or excess

Genesis 49:11, 12

(Jacob blesses Judah) … he will wash his garments in wine, his robe in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.

descriptive; poetic; no judgment

wine=yayin (2x)

Exodus 29:38-41

(The Lord said to Moses) With the first lamb offer a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a fourth of a hin of oil … and a fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering.

wine (yayin) as part of offering; sacred ceremony instituted by God

Leviticus 10:9-11

Then the Lord said to Aaron, You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die.

prescriptive for priests as part of tabernacle ceremony; not univer-sal prohibition; wine=yayin; 

other fermented drink=shekar

Leviticus 23:13

(You must sacrifice as a burnt offering)…. an offering made to the Lord by fire, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a fourth of a hin of wine.

prescriptive; drink offering of wine (yayin) to God

Numbers 6:3, 20

(The Lord said to Moses) If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the Lord as a Nazarite, he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink…. together with their grain offerings and drink offerings …. they are holy and belong to the priest, together with the breast … and the thigh that was presented. After that, the Nazarite may drink wine.

prescriptive abstinence for Nazarites; special conditions (including no cutting of hair), but may drink after the vow is completed; prohibits yayin (3x) as well as shekar, as well as grape juice and grape seeds

Numbers 15:5, 7, 10

(Supplementary offerings) … prepare a fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering … and a third of a hin of wine as a drink offering … Also bring half a hin of wine as a drink offering…..

Ceremonial sacrifices of wine: (yayin, 3x)

Numbers 28:7, 14*

The accompanying drink offering is to be a fourth of a hin of fermented drink with each lamb. Pour out the drink offering to the Lord at the sanctuary.

prescriptive yayin part of offering to the Lord; other sources refer-ence shekar as the fermented drink

Deuteronomy 7:13

He (the Lord your God) will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and oil….

promise of new wine (tirosh) as a blessing

Deuteronomy 11:14

… then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil.

promise of new wine (tirosh) as a blessing

Deuteronomy 12:17

You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks….

Prescribed practice of tithing includes tirosh

Deuteronomy 14:26*

(Moses said) Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.

prescribes yayin and shekar as part of the process of exchanging the tithe for silver; special use of “delayed tithe” included; a blessing for the righteous

Deuteronomy 16:13-14

Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast—you, your sons and daughters …

prescribes celebration with products of the winepress

Deuteronomy 18:4

You are to give them the first fruits of your grain, new wine and oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep….

prescribes offerings of tirosh specifically to priests and Levites

Deuteronomy 21:20

This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.

description of drunkenness as a characteristic– in negative context

Deuteronomy 28:39, 51

You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them.

one of the list of curses for disobedience: withdrawal of the blessing of yayin

Deuteronomy 29:5-6

You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.

descriptive of the 40 years in the wilderness: no yayin or shekar, as part of the lack of need for man-made provisions; note pairing with bread

Deuteronomy 32: 14, 33, 38

(The Lord nourished) … with curds, and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the red blood of the grape. … Their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness. Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.

description of an ungrateful and rebellious people; an angry God will “judge his people and have compassion on his servants”; red blood of the grape=chemer; wine=yayin

Deuteronomy 33:28

So Israel will live in safety alone; Jacob’s spring is secure, in a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew.

Moses’ blessing on the tribes; new wine=tirosh

Joshua 9:4, 13

They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended… and these wineskins hat we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn…

Description of “the Gibeonite deception”; wine=yayin (2x)

Judges 9:13

“Then the trees said to the vine, ’Come and be our king.’ But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men, to go waving over the trees?’”

part of the “allegory of leadership” story told by Jotham, including the olive tree, the fig tree, and the thornbush; wine=tirosh

Judges 13:4,7,14

Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son…. drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean… She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean.

Samson’s mother commanded to abstain from certain things like unclean food, yayin (3x) and shekar during pregnancy

Judges 19:19

We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants — me, your maidservant and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.

response of the traveler from Bethlehem to Ephraim; wine=yayin

Ruth 2:14

At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”

Boaz’s hospitality. Original for “wine vinegar” not available

I Samuel 1:14-15

Hannah was praying in her heart and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.”

descriptive, with sense of disapproval; mistaken perception of drunkenness; wine=yayin; beer=shekar

I Samuel 10:3

Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine.

descriptive narrative; Samuel to Saul, after anointing him; wine=yayin

I Samuel 16:20

So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

descriptive narrative; wine=yayin

I Samuel 25:18, 36-38

(Abigail) took two loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain … (to David)…When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing until daybreak. The in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like stone.

descriptive narrative; episode of drunkenness – no condemnation of drinking, but the end of “wicked” and “foolish” Nabal, who treated David with contempt, was bad; wine=yayin

II Samuel 11:13

(Uriah said to David): “How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk.

descriptive; inducing drunkenness as a strategy; part of the story of David and Bathsheba

II Samuel 13:28-29

Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Am-non is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him… So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered.

descriptive; inducing drunkenness as a strategy; wine=yayin

II Samuel 16:1, 2

He (Ziba) had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with …a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine…. “The bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those become exhausted in the desert.”

Descriptive narrative; salutary purpose for wine=yayin

I Kings 16:9-10

Elah was in Tirzah at the time, getting drunk in the home of Arza, the man in charge of the palace at Tirzah. Zimri came in, struck him down and killed him …. The he succeeded him as king.

descriptive; drunkenness, with undesirable consequences

I Kings 20:12, 15

Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking in their tents and he ordered his men: “Prepare to attack.” …. They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk.

descriptive; drinking and drunkenness as part of warfare

II Kings 18:32

“Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!

the commander of the Assyrian army tries to persuade Hezekiah’s people; with, among other things, new wine=tirosh

I Chronicles 9:29

Others were assigned to take care of furnishings and all the other articles of the sanctuary, as well as the flour and wine, and the oil, incense and spices.

description of the duties of priests; wine=yayin

I Chronicles 12:39-40

The men spent three days there with David, eating and drinking, for their families had supplied provisions for them … There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, wine, oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.

description of the men who volunteered for David’s army and who wanted to make him king of Israel; wine=yayin

I Chronicles 27:27

Zabdi the Shiphmite was in charge of the produce of the vineyards for the wine vats.


II Chronicles 2:10, 15

I will give your servants … twenty thousand cors of ground wheat, twenty thousand cors of barley, twenty thousand baths of wine (probably about 115,000 gallons) and twenty thousand baths of olive oil… Now let my lord send his servants the wheat and barley and olive oil and wine he promised, and we will cut all the logs from Lebanon that you need…

Solomon plans to build the temple and makes a request of Hiram, king of Tyre, who sends a reply

wine=yayin (2x)

II Chronicles 11:11

He (Rehoboam) strengthened their defenses and put commanders in them, with supplies of food, olive oil and wine.



II Chronicles 31:5

As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced.


new wine=tirosh

II Chronicles 32:28

He also made buildings to store the harvest of grain, new wine and oil; and he made stalls for various kinds of cattle and pens for the flocks.


new wine=tirosh

Ezra 6:9

Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail…

offerings to the Lord include wine=chemer

Ezra 7:21-22

… whatever Ezra, the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you—up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine (about 600 gallons), a hundred baths of olive oil,….

wine=chemer in God’s service

Nehemiah 2:1

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before;…

historical narrative;

Wine=yayin (2x)

Nehemiah 5:11, 16-19

But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine… Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds.

descriptive; no reference to drunkenness; wine=yayin (2x)

Nehemiah 10:37, 39

… we will bring to the storerooms of the house of God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of our trees and of our new wine and oil…. The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and oil to the storerooms … where the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the singers stay.

part of the “binding agreement” includes new wine=yayin (2x)

Nehemiah 13:5, 12, 15

… and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store the grain offerings and the incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and oil prescribed for the Levites … All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine and oil into the storerooms … In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs, and all other kinds of loads.

historical narrative; new wine=yayin as commerce and tithe

Esther 1:7-10

Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality. By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink in his own way, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished… On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he com-manded the seven eunuchs who served him… to bring before him Queen Vashti…

descriptive narrative; drinking and suggestion (but not description) of drunkenness; wine=yayin

Esther 5:6

So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given to you.”

descriptive; no reference to drunkenness;


Esther 7:2, 7-8

So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther, and as they were drinking wine on that second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? … ”

descriptive; no reference to drunkenness;


Job 1:13, 18

One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job …

descriptive; no reference to drunkenness;


Job 32:19

For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.

descriptive – reference to wine=yayin(2x) as a figure of speech

Psalm 4:7

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.

comparison; wine=tirosh

Psalm 60:3

You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger.

complaint of God’s “rejection:” hint of drunkenness; wine=yayin

Psalm 75:8

In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wickedness of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.

metaphorical narrative: foaming wine=yayin; mixed=mesekh; dregs=shemarim

Psalm 78:65

Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a man wakes from the stupor of wine.

metaphor - effects of intoxication; Wine=yayin

Psalm 104:14-15*

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for men to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.

descriptive; one of several Biblical passages that refer to wine as a source of delight and as a blessing for the righteous; wine=yayin

Proverbs 3:10

… then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

new wine=tirosh

Proverbs 4:17

They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

metaphorical use of wine=yayin; note pairing with bread (if wine produced violence, does bread produce wickedness?)

Proverbs 9:2, 5

She (Wisdom) has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set the table. Let all who are simple come in here!” she says to those who lack judgment. “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of under-standing.”

sometimes used to equate alcohol use with lack of judgment, but may have more to do with a place at the table for those who are do not yet fully understand; wine=yayin (2x) used in a symbolic way in any case

Proverbs 20:1

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

descriptive; negative effects contingent on being “led astray;”

wine=yayin; beer=shekar

Proverbs 21:17

He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

wine=yayin is paired with oil

Proverbs 23:20-35

Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags…. Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine then it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper…. “When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”

prescriptive and descriptive; note reference to “too much”, “linger over” and “in the end” -- appears to emphasize excesses rather than drinking per se; wine=yayin (2x); mixed wines=mesekh

Proverbs 31:4-7

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel—not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish, let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”

one of the “sayings of King Lemuel; emphasis is on higher responsibility of a king; social justice, defense of “the rights of the poor and needy;” appears to warrant the use of intoxicants as drugs, which has a history in Bible times by mixing wine with wormwood, myrrh, and nuxvomica; wine=yayin (2x);beer=may be shekar

Ecclesiastes 2:3

“Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do …

part of the litany of pleasures, wisdom, folly, and work which are “meaningless,” “futile” – up to “there is a time for everything” (Chap. 3); wine=yayin

Ecclesiastes 9:7

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do

prescriptive; wine associated with joy and God’s blessing, as in Psalm 104; wine=yayin

Ecclesiastes 10:17-19

Blessed are you, O land whose king is of noble birth and whose princes eat at a proper time—for strength and not for drunkenness…. A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.

reference to drunkenness, not drinking per se; appears to value wine, but puzzling because it sounds cynical in the end; wine=yayin

Song of Songs 1:2,4

(Beloved) Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine… (Friends) We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine.

Wine=yayin in the poetry of love; whether read as allegory, arche-type, or literal extolling of human love, the beauty of creation is emphasized

Song of Songs 4:10

(Lover) How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice!

same as above

Song of Songs 5:1

(Lover) I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. (Friends) Eat, O friends, and drink; drink your fill, O lovers.

same as above

Song of Songs 7:2, 9

(Lover) Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine… May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine… and your mouth be like the best wine… (Beloved) May the wine go straight to my lover, flowing gently over lips and teeth.

same as above

Song of Songs 8:2

I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates.

same as above

Isaiah 1:22

Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water.

dilution of wine (common in homes but merchants were not supposed to do it) is included in a list of sins; wine=yayin

Isaiah 5:10, 11-12

Woe to those who rise early in the morning, to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine.

descriptive; refers to excess and drunkenness; drinks=shekar; wine=yayin;

Isaiah 5:22

Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice for the innocent.

excesses included in a list of sins; wine=yayin; mixing drinks=mesekh

Isaiah 16:10

Joy and gladness are taken away … no one sings or shouts in the vineyards; no one treads out wine at the presses, for I have put an end to the shouting.

wine=yayin in poetry

Isaiah 19:14

The Lord has poured into them a spirit of dizzi-ness; they make Egypt stagger in all that she does, as a drunkard staggers around in his vomit.

graphic effects of drunkenness as a simile

Isaiah 22:12-13

But, see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! “Let us eat and drink,” you say, “for tomorrow we die!”

drinking as a common activity; wine=yayin

Isaiah 24:7, 9, 11

No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers.

The paradox (good and bad); wine=shekar; beer=yayin

Isaiah 25:6*

… the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.

descriptive; no reference to drunkenness; positive imagery

Isaiah 27:2*

Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that on one may harm it.

God keeps the products of he vineyard safe; fruitful=chemek

Isaiah 28:1, 3, 7-8

Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drun-kards, to the fading flower, this glorious beauty …. To that city, the pride of those laid low by wine! … That wreath, the pride o f Emphraim’s drunkards, will be trampled underfoot…. And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer; priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions…

A graphic description of drunken-ness and other vices in the North-ern Kingdom, as a warning to the kingdom of Judah; wine=yayin (3x); beer=shekar

Isaiah 29:9

Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk but not from wine, stagger but not from beer.

drunkenness as symbolic and ironic rebuke of his countrymen; wine=yayin (3x); beer=shekar

Isaiah 36:17

“Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.

An offer of economic security at the price of liberty;

new wine=tirosh

Isaiah 49:26

I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.

metaphorical reference to drunkenness; wine=asis (sweet wine)

Isaiah 51:21

Therefore hear this, you afflicted one, made drunk, but not with wine.

metaphorical reference to drunkenness; wine=yayin

Isaiah 55:1

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come and buy and eat! Come and buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

call to repentant sinners to have faith in God’s promises; symbolic reference to wine=yayin

Isaiah 56:9-12

“Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine! Let us drink our fill of beer! And tomorrow will be like today, or even far better.”

God indicts the corrupt prophets of Israel, especially their self-interest; wine=yayin; beer=shekar

Isaiah 62:8

“Never again will I give your grain as food for your enemies, and never again will foreigners drink the new wine for which you have toiled; but those who harvest it will eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather the grapes will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.”

God’s promised restoration of Zion includes assurance that Israel can keep the wine=tirosh it produces.

Isaiah 65:11

“But as for you who forsake the Lord and forget my holy mountain, who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you for the sword, and you will all bend down for the slaughter;….”

the disobedient will suffer the consequences;

mixed wine=mesekh

Jeremiah 13:12-14

(The Lord God said to me): “Say to them: ‘This is what the God of Israel says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.’ And if they say to you, ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?’ Then tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David’s throne……’”

commentators suggest that this is symbolic of the pathetic condition of Israel when taken into captivity, and “drunkenness” should not be taken literally; wine=yayin

Jeremiah 23:9

I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the Lord and his holy words

Jeremiah’s vision relating to the false prophets give him the sensa-tion of drunkenness; wine=yayin

Jeremiah 25:15, 27-28

“Then tell them, ‘This is what the Lord Al-mighty, the God of Israel, says: Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword I will send among you. But if they refuse to take the cup form your hand and drink, tell them, ‘This is what the Lord God Almighty says: You must drink it!’

the language of gross intoxication is used to describe God’s judgment on Judah via Babylon’s sword;

the cup=yayin

Jeremiah 31:12

They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds.

new wine=tirosh is one of the symbols of “the good life” to be experienced by the exiles in the future

Jeremiah 35:2-14

“Go to the Recabite family and … and given them wine to drink…. Then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the men of the Recabite family and said to them, ‘Drink some wine.’” But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab have us this command: “Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed …… Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine or build houses….. “Jonadab, son of Recab ordered his

sons ordered his sons not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their fore-father’s command.”

Recabites were a nomadic, puritan clan who abstained from what they considered degenerating influences of settled town life, including drinking of wine=yayin (7x); they were praised for their tenacity, but not necessarily for the particulars

Jeremiah 40:10, 12

myself will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians who come to us, but you are to harvest the wine, summer fruit and oil, and put them in your storage jars, and live in the towns your have taken over…. And they har-vested an abundance of wine and summer fruit.

wine=yayin (2x) as an agri-product

Jeremiah 48:11, 26, 33

“Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another—she has not gone into exile…. Make her drunk, for she has defied the Lord. Let Moab wallow in her vomit, let her be an object or ridicule…. Joy and gladness are gone from the orchards and field of Moab. I have stopped the flow of wine from the presses; no one treads them with shouts of joy. ”

Moab had been spared from invasion to that point – figuratively its wine=yayin had not been strained or purified (dregs=shemarim), since it was in an isolated location, but God now pronounces judgment

Jeremiah 51:7

Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad.

wine=yayin as a metaphor for Babylon’s evil influence

Lamentations 2:12

They say to the mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” as they faint like wounded men in the streets of the city, as their lives ebb away in their mothers’ arms.

the plight of children in Zion’s ruins; probably not because they drink wine=yayin, but because it represents hope for a better future for their parents

Ezekiel 23:32-34

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘“You will drink your sister’s cup, a cup large and deep; it will bring scorn and derision, for it holds so much. You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, the cup of ruin and desolation, the cup of your sister Samaria. You will drink it and drain it dry; you will dash it to pieces …’”

drunkenness as a metaphor for the destruction of the two “sisters,” representing Jerusalem and Samaria

Ezekiel 27:18

Damascus, because of your many products and great wealth of good, did business with you in wine from Helbon and wool from Zahar.

wine=yayin as a commercial commodity

Ezekiel 44:21-22

No priest is to drink wine when he enters the inner court. They must not marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only virgins of Israelite descent or widows of priests.

wine=yayin in ceremonial laws pertaining to priests

Daniel 1:5, 8, 16

The king (Nebuchadnezzar) assigned them (the Israelites) a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table … But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way. … At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice of food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

Jewish boys in the Babylonian court passed the “vegetables-only test”; wine=yayin (3x) is only incidental, since wine drinking was common among Jews; a religious issue rather than a moral or health-related choice

Daniel 5:1-4, 23

King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets…. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone…. “You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods……

narrative description; no reference to drunkenness; wine=yayin and chemer

Daniel 10:3

I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food, no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all ….

see above, under 1:5. 8. 16; temporary abstinence, not asceticism; wine=yayin

Hosea 2:8-9, 22

She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold – which they used for Baal. Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. .. and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil;….

metaphorical description of the relationship between God and Israel; Israel forgot the source of the good gifts; new wine=tirosh

Hosea 4:11*

… because they have deserted the Lord to give themselves to prostitution, to old wine and new, which take away the understanding of my people.

same as above; “understanding” generally understood as a spiritual matter; old wine=yayin; new wine=tirosh

Hosea 7:5, 14

On the day of the festival of our king the princes became inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers…. They gather together for grain and new wine but turn away from me.

same as above; “inflamed” hints at drunkenness as metaphor; wine=yayin; new wine=tirosh

Hosea 9:2, 4

Threshing floors and winepresses will not feed the people; the new wine will fail them…. They will not pour out wine offerings to the Lord, nor will their sacrifices please him.

same as above, but no reference to drunkenness; new wine=tirosh; wine=yayin

Hosea 14:7

Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.

same as above; wine=yayin

Joel 1:5, 10

Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the wine, for it has been snatched from your lips…. The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails.

descriptive; drunkenness;

call to universal mourning as a result of the invasion of locusts; wine=yayin; new wine=asis

Joel 2:19, 24

The Lord will reply to them: “I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations…. The threshing floors will be filled with grain, the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

the people repented and the Lord forgave them; new wine=tirosh

Joel 3:3, 18

They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine that they might drink…. In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water.

the nations are judged for their mistreatment of the Jews; deliverance in the new Messianic age; wine=yayin; new wine=asis

Amos 2:8, 12

They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines…. But you made the Nazarites drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.

clothing was pawned by the poor but the Law said they should be returned by nightfall; profaning of sacred things; wine=yayin (2x)

Amos 5:11

Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine.

addressed to those who were supposed to administer justice; wine=yayin

Amos 6:6

You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.

addressed to those who were careless, reckless and complacent; bowlfuls suggest appropriation of vessels used in sacrificial offerings; wine=yayin

Amos 9:13-15*

New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities … They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.

promise of fertile land and a prosperous new nation; new wine=asis; wine:yayin

Micah 2:11

If a liar and deceiver comes and says, I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer, he would be just the prophet for this people!

indictment of the extent of cor-ruption of God’s people; wine=yayin; beer=shekar

Micah 6:15

You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine.

God says he will destroy Israel because it has sinned; wine=yayin

Nahum 1:10

They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; and they will be consumed like dry stubble.

God says he will destroy Nineveh completely; drunk from wine=sobhe

Habakkuk 2:4-5

“See, he is puffed up; his desired are not up-right—but the righteous will live by his faith—indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest…”

commentators have found translation to be problematic; how does it betray? wine=yayin

Habakkuk 2:15-16

Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that they can gaze on their naked bodies. You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed!

drunkenness metaphor for God’s judgment on the Chaldean, giving them a taste of what they did to others; wine=yayin

Zephaniah 1:12-13

… I will search Jerusalem with lamps and pun-ish those who are complacent who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.’ Their wealth will be plundered, their houses demolished. They will build houses but not live in them; they will plant vineyards but not drink the wine.

complacent, self-satisfied people compared with the dregs=shemarim (sediment) of wine=yayin; a warning of impending judgment

Haggai 1:11

I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.

God reminding Israel of their dependence on him; one of the staples is new wine=tirosh

Haggai 2:12, 16

If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it be-come consecrated? The priests answered: “No.”

under Mosaic law, moral purity cannot be transmitted, but not moral impurity can; wine=yayin

Zechariah 9:15*, 17

They will drink and roar as with wine; they will be full like a bowl used for sprinkling the corners of the altar….How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women.

prediction of the victories (e.g. the Maccabean era) when God will “appear;” wine use is a simile; wine=yayin; new wine=tirosh

Zechariah 10:7*

The Ephraimites will become like mighty men, and their hearts will be glad as with wine. Their children will see it and be joyful; their hearts will rejoice in the Lord.

the Ephraimites’ joy is compared with the pleasing effect of wine; expression of Messianic hope; wine=yayin

Matthew 9:17

(Jesus answered) “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.”

response to the question of fast-ing, which John the Baptist and the Pharisees did, but Jesus did not; he uses wineskins is a meta-phor (fermentation builds pres-ure) and new wineskins are need-ed; Christ’s message is more than Judaism “patched up;” wine=oinos

Matthew 11:19

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘he has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners.’” But wisdom is proved right by her actions.

suggests that Jesus drank wine, but no evidence; there is no record of Jesus or the disciples disputing the claim

Matthew 24:48-49

(Jesus answered) “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of…”

the parable of the servants, addressing the question of when the Lord will come; the “wicked servant” drinks with drunkards.

Matthew 27:34, 48

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered him wine to drink mixed with gall; but after tasting it he refused to drink it…. Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar and offered it to Jesus to drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

at the crucifixion of Christ; intent was to deaden pain; sour wine=oxos; mixture of sour wine or vinegar which Roman soldiers were accustomed to drinking (source: Strong’s Greek Lexicon)

Mark 2:22

(Jesus answered) “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”

see Matthew 9:17, above; wine=oinos

Mark 15:23, 36

Then they offered him (Jesus) wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it…. One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.

myrrh was a drug used to deaden pain; wine vinegar=oxos (sour wine) was not a drug but a thirst quenching liquid (see Matt. 27)

Luke 1:15

He (John) is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.

John the Baptist is a Nazarite; Nazarites took oaths to abstain from alcohol, as well as other ascetic practices; Jesus is a Nazarene; wine=oinos

Luke 5:37-39*

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”

see Matthew 9;17 and Mark 2:22, above; wine=oinos

Luke 7:33-35*

(Jesus said) “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”

see Matthew 11:19, above; wine=oinos

Luke 10:34

(Jesus said) “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and ban-daged his wounds, pouring out oil and wine.”

we may assume that wine=oinos had intoxicating effects (would he put grape juice on a wound?)

Luke 12:45

(The Lord answered) “But suppose the servant says to himself, “My master is taking a long time in coming.’ And he then begins to beat the menservants and womenservants and to eat and drink and get drunk.”

see Matthew 24:48-49, above;

Luke 21:34

(Jesus said) “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”

drunkenness paired with anxieties; no total abstinence mentioned

Luke 23:36

The soldiers also came up to him (Jesus) and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

see Matthew 27:34, 38, above

John 2:1-10*

John 2:1-10, cont’d

(The wedding at Cana) When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him “They have no more wine.”.. Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial wash-ing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water;” so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the

master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine… Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best until now.”

wine=oinos (4x); it has been suggested that the wine was unfermented grape juice; this raises the question: is old grape juice better than new?

some commentators have suggested that water is the symbol for Judah and wine the church under the Holy Spirit

John 4:46

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned water into wine.


John 19:29-30

A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of hys-sop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”

see Matthew 27:34, 38 and Luke 23:36, above; wine vinegar=oxos

Acts 2:13

(Pentecost) Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

wine=gleukos; “filled with the spirit” mistaken for drunkenness

Romans 13:13

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immora-lity and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

prescriptive with reference to drunkenness; no command of abstinence

Romans 14:3-5,17, 21

The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him …. One man considers one day more sacred than another …. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men…. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

this passage raises important ethical questions, which apply to drinking as well as other activities (note pairing of wine and meat); context includes items purchased at pagan markets and dedicated to pagan gods; legalism and offense taken by the self-righteous are addressed; wine=oinos

I Corinthians 5:11

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral, or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.

With such a man do not even eat.

drunkenness; no reference to drinking per se

I Corinthians 6:9-10

Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

drunkenness; no reference to drinking per se

I Corinthians 11:21-22

When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in?

Paul addresses drunkenness during communion; he does not tell them not to drink

Galatians 5:19-21

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

drunkenness listed among other sins; no reference to drinking per se

Ephesians 5:18

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, he filled with the Spirit.

prescriptive with regard to drunkenness; no reference to drinking; wine=oinos

Colossians 2:16

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration of a Sabbath day.

see Romans 14, above

I Thessalonians 5:6-7

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those get drunk, get drunk at night.

descriptive references to drunkenness, with admonition

I Timothy 3:2-3, 8

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to much wine, not violent but gentle; not quarrelsome, not a lover of money…. Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in too much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

temperate is consistent with “not too much wine” in two instances (not likely to refer to grape juice); wine=oinos

I Timothy 5:23

Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

often referred to as “medicinal use;” no general pattern of use mentioned ; note “water” in refer-ence to arguments that wine was used as an alternative to bad water (see also John the Baptist and the Nazarites for comparison) wine=oinos

Titus 1:7-8

Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to much wine, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.

Greek word translated “given to much wine” is dedoulomenas: having been enslaved by…


Titus 2:2-3

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or ad-dicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

“addicted to much wine=oinos;” no reference to drinking or abstinence

I Peter 4:3

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

drunkenness as one of the pagan activities

Revelation 6:6

Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, … and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

economic and commercial implications of wine=oinos

Revelation 14:8, 10

A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries…. . he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.

symbolic use of wine=oinos to describe the effects of immorality and God’s anger

Revelation 16:19

God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.

symbolic reference to God’s anger; wine=oinos

Revelation 17:2

Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.

symbolic use of intoxicating effect of wine=oinos in portrayal of immorality

Revelation 18:3, 13

For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries, the kings of the earth committed adultery with her … The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more—cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls … myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat ….and bodies and souls of men.

wine=oinos (2x) used symbolically and also as a commercial commodity

Addiction Theology

Biblical Narratives
and Addiction

Many of the themes and narratives in the Bible correlate well to addiction, and to the dynamics caused by it. We offer the following list, and invite you to offer others.

addiction recovery


Old Testament


3:1-7: When Adam eats the fruit he does what many addicts do, feels shame, isolates, covers himself, hides from God.

3:8-19: When Adam is accused of eating the fruit he denies it and blames Eve. Eve denies it and blames the serpent. Classic denial and deflection.

9:20-29: Noah plants a Garden and gets drunk passes out. Two sons won’t look, one looks and points it out and is punished severely. Great example of family dysfunction that is replicated in family system with substance abuse disorder present. We all descend from this family.


Chapter 7-13: The struggle for the Israelites to get free from Pharaoh makes a great metaphor for the long hard struggle of getting free from addiction—the pain and cost of it.

Chapter 14: The freedom found when the Israelites crossed the sea is a great metaphor for baptism and how after a long hard struggle with addiction God finally sets us free and destroys our oppressor (addiction).

Chapter 15 & Following: The wilderness wanderings are a great metaphor for the lost-ness and struggle of early recovery and learning to have a new relationship with God and developing community and learning to live by a new set of rules and norms.


In the book of Jonah, the prophet, Jonah, was called by God but ran the other way. Running from God creates consequences for him and everyone around him. His running, in much the same way addicts run from life, ruins his life and he ends up in a very dark and hopeless place—the belly of a fish and a pool of vomit. Great metaphor for how addiction is a way of running from God and leads us to very low, hopeless places.


New Testament

Mark 5:1-20, Matthew 8:28f, Luke 8:26

The story of the Gerasene Demoniac is a great example of how confronting addiction is frightening but powerful. The demoniac was healed by the courage of Jesus to confront his demons. The people who saw this healing wanted nothing to do with Jesus, it frightened them and they probably did not like the economic cost of this healing either. The demoniac was given healing mission to go and tell people what God had done for him—to share his story so that others could be saved. The power and mission of sharing our healing stories.

Luke 15:11-32

The prodigal son—is about grace, forgiveness, renewal, recovery, acceptance and so many things recovering people relate to. But the older brothers’ reaction, much like the townspeople in the demoniac story, also teaches how not everyone loves these things, nor welcomes them. There is resistance to this among God’s children, among those “most faithful.”

Romans 7:15-25

In his letter to the Romans Paul describes his struggle with sin in almost the exact same terms an addict struggles with their addiction, the powerlessness and need for God’s help to deliver him.

We need to
understand addiction,
as it impacts everyone.



Addiction Awareness

Healing in the Scary Places

Heavenly Food

Prodigal Brothers

"Our Stories of Experience, Strength & Hope"

The Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy (FRLC) have written a book called “Our Stories of Experience, Strength & Hope”.  This book was written to give hope to clergy that are new in recovery—


-their life is not over because they have a disease

-their careers are not over

-God has not abandoned them

-they have done nothing wrong

-there is a new life waiting for them, that is better than the one they leave behind

The book is available through Author House Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobles. 

Author House:


Barnes & Noble:;jsessionid=2CACEB6AF2A1D341A2F758C967DC5EE3.prodny_store02-atgap01?ean=9781418465087

Other Faith Traditions

Addiction consumes life of the addicted. This disease takes over and produces a feeling of helplessness in the face of overwhelming forces. Because of this the addict is often reduced to ultimately seeking, or at least becoming open to spiritual help. Whether it is prayer directly or just a reliance on the group for support, the very many the struggle over addiction cannot be won without this help.

The program of Alcoholics Anonymous and by extension, other 12 step programs, is based on spiritual principles. Addiction in these models are seen to have both physical and psychological dimensions, but the primary help is realized through spiritual means.

Interestingly this 12 step spirituality is realized through practical “steps,” designed to give practical guidance. And while the steps are essentially very practical, the power derived from them to overcome addiction stems from a willingness to completely surrender to a “higher power.”

The vast appeal and reach of the 12-step approach to addiction comes largely through its non-prescribed theology. The spirituality of the 12-Steps is not defined or articulated specifically. There is no precise meaning or explanation of God that anyone must accept. When members talk about a higher power, they are expressing their own personal idea about just what this means. Each participate is met where they are in their understanding and there is freedom for them to come to their own understanding, or as some might argue, to allow God to be revealed in God’s own way and time.

The key point is there is a willingness to stop relying on their own failed attempts to overcome addiction and recognize their need for help. For those with strong religious convictions, the idea of yielding to an outside authority to help heal is a natural one, but this too can become a stumbling block because some of those strong religious convictions may be misguided or misinformed theologies that prevent them from seeing or understanding their God in new ways. They may get stuck in some old ideas about God. The theological genius of the 12-Step program stems from what gets repeated in many steps, “a God of my own understanding.” Nobody gets to say who God is or how God should work. There is no religious authority in the 12-Step program which helps to create diversity and unity at the same time.

Four of the 12 steps mentions “God,” either directly or indirectly. This sometimes leads to the misunderstanding that the 12-Steps is a religious program. Its important understand the goal of the 12-Steps isn’t for worship or religious instruction, but rather to reach people at an emotional level and offer a path toward healing. The only goal is one of repair of a particular life issue, addiction in whatever form it takes, and offer a guiding and supportive path toward healing.

Typically 12-Step groups avoid particular scriptural text and rely on literature created by the fellowship for guidance and reference. This literature usually does not avoid the mention of God, but mostly articulates this “higher power” at work in their midst through the sharing of the stories of those who were freed from their disease.

It is impossible to define one overarching Native American theology as spiritual understandings will vary from tribe and region. Spirituality however, is deeply rooted in the psyche of every Native American regardless of tribe or region.

The essence of Native American spirituality is wholeness, the viewing of the disparate elements of the world as part of one interwoven whole that connects the natural world to the spiritual world. It is a kind of animism, a seeing that all things alive with a distinct spiritual essence–animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and sometimes even words—as actually animated and alive in a spiritual way.

Native American spirituality seeks harmony and balance as essential to the linking of oneself to the circle of the community and the cosmos. This harmonious linking leads to hope and meaning and a sense of completeness within the comforting family of the circle.

Addiction, where drugs and emptiness reign supreme causes imbalance and a broken circle of harmony. Attention to the ancient traditions and practices are needed to restore balance and harmony.

Sweat Lodge, for example, is a traditional ceremony that reminds the individual of their connectivity to every living entity and takes place in total darkness, representing a return to the womb and a rebirth of one’s spirituality. Along with detoxifying and purification rituals, song and dance and other rituals are used as part of the healing journey and restorative process of the body and spirit.

Reminding oneself of cultural roots and beginnings the Native American spiritual pathway to rediscovering who you are. Traditionally, native diets, harvest ceremonies, and the use of native herbs and plants have been used to contribute to the health and well-being of native communities.

Younger generations have largely abandoned these traditions and have consequently experienced increasing rates of diabetes and other forms of poor health. Others, however, are learning to connect with these healthy life alterations, including running each day at dawn, taking time with ceremony and prayer, and telling stories that reinforce positive behaviors and warn about going up against the laws of nature.

Even though alcoholic beverages such as wine are part of Jewish rituals, the community generally stigmatizes addictive behaviors, particularly Orthodox Jews who separate themselves from others and follow very strict traditional Jewish values.

In some instances, practitioners of Judaism with substance abuse issues may become alienated from their peers due to some longstanding myths associated with substance abuse in the Jewish community. These myths include:

  • People who practice Judaism are protected from addiction.
  • Only Jews who have become alienated from their faith develop substance abuse


  • Substance abuse is a sign of moral failure.
  • Orthodox Jews do not use alcohol or illicit drugs.
  • There is no need for addiction recovery programs that incorporate the tenants                      

of Judaism.

Regardless of these myths, research studies indicate that nearly 20 percent of individuals of the Jewish faith have a family history of addictive behaviors. In Israel, there is about a 13 percent lifetime prevalence rate of addiction, relatively consistent with the rates of substance abuse from many other industrialized countries.

It is well accepted that addictive behaviors do not discriminate between individuals from different genders, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, or on the basis of other demographic barriers. Judaism, like many religions, teaches that addictive behaviors are wrong, and substance abuse is frowned upon within the Jewish community.

Practitioners of Judaism are taught that their body belongs to God. They are to distance themselves from influences that destroy the body and attempt to engage in practices that nourish and heal the body. Because practitioners of Judaism are very devoted to their faith and attempt to live by strict traditions and rules, the treatment of substance abuse in these individuals should incorporate aspects of faith-based or spiritually based treatments that involve family members and spiritual leaders in the overall treatment program.

Islamic law seeks to protect the belief in Allah by promoting life, the maintenance of property, and the maintenance of a healthy state of mind. The Islamic view of the use of drugs or alcohol is quite clear that drugs or alcohol should be avoided (with some reservations for the use of wine).

Because of the cultural difficulties with obtaining survey data from individuals with strong Islamic convictions, there is little reliable data on the prevalence of substance abuse in individuals who describe themselves as Muslim. Most of the data comes from clinical samples (sample participants that are in hospitals or other treatment centers).

Best-guess estimates suggest that overall substance abuse rates of individuals in Muslim communities are typically reported as being lower than for individuals in other religions, with a few countries showing a little more variance. For example, alcohol use is often lowest among Muslims than any other religion. However, due to the severe restrictions on substance use that is part of the Islamic doctrine, these reports may not be reliable. Moreover, other substances that are not viewed as prohibited, such as khat, may have higher use rates than traditional drugs of abuse and alcohol in these populations.

The research does suggest that drug and alcohol use among individuals identifying as Muslim is far lower in those who have stronger commitments to their faith than those who do not. In addition, there may be a geographical variation in substance use and Muslims. For instance, higher rates of past-year alcohol use are reported by college students who describe themselves as Muslims in the United States compared to those in other countries. Thus, actual prevalence rates of substance abuse among individuals describing themselves as Muslims are most likely lower than in the general population, but reliable estimates are not available.

The major risk factors that appear to contribute to an increased risk of substance abuse among Muslims are their level of acculturation in a particular area (e.g., the United States) and their commitment to Islam. The greater the level of acculturation (identifying with the predominant culture in the area where the individual lives as opposed to their own traditional cultural norms) and the lower the level of commitment to their religious beliefs, the higher the likelihood of substance abuse.

Individuals with the highest levels of acculturation and the lowest levels of commitment to their religious beliefs are often younger individuals who may attempt to hide potential substance use from family members, thus hindering the identification of substance use disorders in these individuals.

It is generally considered that tobacco and alcohol are the major substances of abuse among individuals who identify as Muslims, particularly males. There may also be increased rates of prescription drug abuse in this population, but again, reliable data does not appear to be available.

Whether consciously acknowledged or not, we live in an almost constant state of anxiety. We are concerned with what we may lose, or what we may not gain. We also live in grief and regret over what we have left behind or at least feel we may have indeed lost. We thus attach ourselves to the very things that we cannot, ultimately, control; the past and the future. In truth, there is only today, this moment, and this breath with which we are, and can actually be, connected. The past is gone, and the future has not yet happened. We are here, now.

From a Buddhist perspective, addiction might be considered the archetype of attachment. Addiction is, in fact, a collection of attachments. It is attachment to fear, attachment to loss, and attachment to longing, emptiness, and a lack of a sense of purpose. Whether we choose alcohol, drugs, sex, food, pornography, exercise or even shopping, we are simply employing the means serving the compulsion to fill a space and dampen our pain. The means does not matter; that is simply a gesture. The compulsion is the crux of it, and that compulsion is not so much to drink, or do drugs, or to spend; that compulsion, ultimately, is to fill that space.

And just what is that space? We might look upon it as the “God-shaped hole.” The wisdom teachings suggest that in identifying with a self, a “me”, we divorce ourselves from the true nature of our existence. From a psychological perspective, this division presents itself as inauthenticity, and the internal conflict that condition engenders promotes internal strife. In our attempt to reconcile this sense of inauthenticity, we cling even more desperately to establishing a sense of “me-ness” and can, in some cases, become morbidly self-destructive in our attempts to soothe the pain of failure in that reconciliation.

Addiction generally begins as an interest in something that feels good. As soon as we express an interest in something, we are expressing a preference. In expressing a preference, we are dividing our attention and creating an attachment to something in the world around us. As that interest turns into a fascination, our attachment deepens. Our attention becomes more and more exclusive, and we become increasingly imbalanced; emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

Fascination may then flower into obsession, and we become a slave to our attachment. We are no longer ourselves, and, rather than ‘losing our mind’, which would be the skillful means by which to escape our attachment, we are trapped inside the mind.

With obsession, our attachment becomes even more intensified, and our exclusion even more narrow. As we become slaves to our attachment, our mind, and our behavior, we lose the ability to exercise free will and, in that light, move from obsession to compulsion; from place of being driven, to a place of need.

At this point we fail the First Noble Truth; our attachment has become so involved that we have invited suffering. We are no longer willful, but, rather, subject to and at the sufferance of the will of our attachments. When we find ourselves in a place that we cannot live without exercising this attachment, whatever it may be, we have fallen into a state of addiction.

Within the context of addiction, people often feel that they do not have a choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. We always have a choice. When confronting someone who themselves is confronting an addiction, saying to them, “Stopping your behavior is your choice.” is, however, often met with profound resistance for their failure to see that choice.

The key to getting a grasp on this is recognizing that choice is a constant state; it is not a single moment in time. If the choice not to be addicted were a single choice point, then all we would ultimately do is move our attachment from something socially defined as negative (say, drinking or being promiscuous) to something that is socially defined as positive (not drinking or being chaste). In point of fact, we would become addicted, or at the very least attached, to not being addicted.

Buddha spoke of the Middle Way. Within the context of choice that suggests that if we are present in the moment, our choices are constant. We do not, then, go right or left, say yes or no, think good or bad, or see black or white; rather, we are aware that both opportunities are presenting themselves, we recognize this and acknowledge it, then choose neither.

When we lose the Middle Way and fall off our balancing point, we create our pain. We create our sense of emptiness, and our anxiety around loss. We deceive ourselves into believing that we are less than whom and what we are by virtue of attaching ourselves to things, objects, situations, emotions, and anxieties that take us away from ourselves. This is the engine of addiction.

Michael J. Formica MS, MA, EdM, Pyschology Today, May 02, 2008

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world with nearly 1 billion followers, the majority of whom come from India. Hindus will generally believe in one Supreme Being with multiple deities associated with that being and in the notion of reincarnation based on how a person lived in a previous life (karma).

In general, Hinduism disapproves of the use of drugs or alcohol, although in some Hindu sects, cannabis products are used to promote spiritual experiences through the use of an intoxicating drink called Soma (not the muscle relaxant). However, since the major focus of Hinduism is to achieve spiritual enlightenment and move forward to the process of reincarnation, most sects do not endorse the use of alcohol or drugs.

Hinduism may involve the use of meditation, yoga, or other techniques to sharpen the spirit, mind, and body of the practitioner. The major belief is that the entire universe is connected, that one should have a daily relationship with God, and that one should take responsibility for their behavior as their first intention. Thus, the use of self-control and meditation can be used to an advantage for Hindus who are in recovery from some type of substance abuse problem.

Hinduism also endorses a holistic approach to health and wellness. This type of holistic approach, treating all of the needs of the person, is now one of the major focuses in addiction treatment.

All of these methods have applications in the treatment of substance abuse. It should be noted that Hinduism concentrates on the use of meditation, prayer, and self-discipline as an approach to recovery as opposed to psychotherapy or medication.


Agnostics and atheist are often overwhelmed by the amount of religious language surrounding recovery. In such cases it is helpful that they begin with the things that every addicted person has in common.

No matter your religion or lack thereof these things appear to be true for everybody who struggles with a substance abuse disorder or behavioral addiction:

  • Both religious people and atheists with a substance abuse disorder should consider detoxing in a medical facility.
  • Both types of people will find it critical to associate with understanding people who have been through similar struggles.
  • Both groups can benefit from rehab and therapy.

Despite the evidence that religion and spiritual approaches may enhance outcomes in recovery from substance use disorders, it should be noted that the overall body of research regarding the effective principles of substance use disorder treatment does not specify the contribution of spiritual-based or religious-based interventions as important factors in evidence-based treatments. In fact, one of the most comprehensive overall summaries of the principles of effective substance use disorder treatment by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) does not even include any notion of spirituality or religion as one of the major principles of treatment despite the growing body of evidence of the efficacy of spirituality.

Virtually all treatments for substance abuse, such as medication management, behavioral therapy, or alternative therapies, are based on the need to adopt a spiritual or religious approach while at the same time strangely insisting they are effective whether or not a person has a commitment to a divine supreme being or has spiritual beliefs. Thus, treatment does not require any type of spiritual or religious belief or commitment according to the NIDA principles of effective substance use disorder treaments.

The types of programs that regularly attempt to incorporate religion or spirituality into recovery are typically peer support groups like 12-Step groups or other similar groups. These groups will often refer to notions of spirituality or religion and surrendering to God or a higher power as a component of their program. However, many of these groups demonstrate acceptance for individuals who do not have any type of spiritual or religious belief.

Individuals who do not wish to be involved in programs that focus on spirituality or a religious doctrine, but still wish to become involved in peer support groups that allow them to freely interact with others in recovery, can readily find groups to suit their needs. Some of the major organizations that offer nonreligious environments that are appropriate for atheist or agnostic individuals include the following:

  • Smart Management and Recovery Training (SMART recovery) is a nonspiritual, nonreligious approach to empowering people to achieve successful recovery from substance abuse.
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a nonprofit network of secular recovery programs.
  • Life Ring is a secular group that focuses on abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
  • Moderation Management (MM) is a secular program that focuses on the controlled use of alcohol in recovering individuals.
  • Women for Sobriety is a nonprofit secular organization for women in recovery.