As part of the annual formation program of Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, the seminary once again organized a three day lectures on issues bordering human development as a demand for a wholestic and integral formation. The interesting and educative session began on the night of Thursday, 30th March 2017, and was completed in the morning of Saturday 1st April, 2017, featuring four conferences, all held at the Seminary Auditorium.
The Theme for the year’s formation weekend is Addiction and The Brain: Beyond the Will Power, conducted by Sr. Mary Providentia Marinze, of immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation (First regional superior of Our Lady of Guadalupe Region, Canada, and a Psychologist) Introducing the facilitator of the weekend program to the Bigard family, Rev. Fr. Simon Areji, one of Bigard’s Spiritual Directors pointed out the pressing need to always revisit and keep fresh in mind the message of the Pastores Dabo Vobis, where the four strands of integral formation are propagated, namely, Academic Formation, Spiritual Formation, Pastoral Formation and Human Formation.
Reviewing the theme for the formation weekend, Fr. Areji categorized it under the development of Human Values, hence, presenting Human Formation as the most essential of all. Introducing the theme, Sr. Providentia Marinze gave a key note as a foundation for her lectures, Rom 7:15-19, 22, which reads, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self.”
Sr. Marinze gave a classical definition of addiction as “a pathological relationship which one has with an object or event, and since this relationship is pathological, it goes beyond human will power.” In a cause to explain the cycle of human life, and how addiction intercepts its order, she explained that man being an emotional creature sees himself often fluctuating between the natural cycles of happiness and sadness. However, in an attempt to escape one’s unhappy moment, one attaches oneself to objects, actions and events from which one gains pleasure, hence, altering the natural order of human existence.
She explained that for something to be an object of addiction, it must be capable of giving pleasure, and must always be available. She also taught that addiction cannot be cured, rather can only be managed. Sr. Marinze warned against the dangerous acts of delusion and switching of addiction as a cover or defense mechanism, because they not only introduce one to other objects of addiction, but also make one inaccessible to proper therapy.
Sr. Marinze explained that addiction should not be misconstrued to mean only obsessive love for drugs and alcohol, rather it extends to such objects and actions as food, gambling, cigarette, sex, and other sexual activities (pornography, cyber sexual acts) Revealing the method used in administering therapy to an addict, Sr. Marinze expounded that a good addictive therapist looks beyond the addiction, and aims at resolving the depression and sadness which normally spur one to resort to one’s object of addiction.
Hence, a good therapist aims at making an addict get attuned to the natural cycles of happiness and sadness. Sr. Providentia in the cause of her lecture, laid bare the parts of the human brain, explaining how addiction affects the functionality of each part. They are thus;
Frontal Lobe – It distinguishes man from other animals, and performs other executive functions in the nervous system. Alcohol impedes the proper functionality of this part of the human brain
Parietal Lobe – It is the lobe of balancing, it is also affected by addiction
Left and Right Lobe – The right helps to store information, while the left helps in acquiring foreign languages. However, addiction hampers the efficacy of the both.
Occipital Lobe – It controls vision, hence, addiction massively destroys one’s vision
Dopamine and Serotonin – Dopamine increases hunger/drive for a thing, while Serotonin helps to give a sense of satisfaction over a thing.
Having explained how the human brain works, Sr. Marinze taught that addicts have excess dopamine but little amount of serotonin/receptor.
This explains why when dopamine is released in an addict, there is always a very low serotonin released to satisfy the drives, hence, the addict reaches out to fill the void created with the object of his addiction.
Progressing with her thought-provoking lecture, Sr. Marinze taught that various influences such as Genetic factor, Psychological factor, and environmental factor are responsible for making one an addict. She further suggested that one goes through four levels before one can be regarded as an addict. These cycles are; Preoccupation, Ritualization, Acting out, and Despair/Regret.
During the conference in the morning of Saturday 31st March, 2017, being the last, Sr. Marinze proffered some ways addiction can either be prevented or managed. She enumerated them thus; Taking charge of one’s life, Identifying one’s triggers, Creating diversions, Creating a balance between physical, emotional and spiritual needs, Setting of one’s boundaries, Bringing one’s family and positive oriented friends to limelight, frequent consultations and proper directions.
The fascinating lecture welcomed quite a number of critical enquiries from both Priests and Seminarians present, to which Sr. Marinze tendered intelligent and professional answers. The weekend’s program was brought to a successful end after the session in the morning of Saturday, 31st March, 2017.