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Religion is a harmful addiction. If it is used in place of mental health treatment, then the treatment is worse than the illness. "Religion ... is the opium of the people." -Karl Marx. It is not a treatment for mental illness, eg. it is not a cure for depression. The withdrawal symptoms from religion alone can cause psychological trauma. When a sufferer of depression, anxiety etc. realises that religion isn't helping, the sufferer is worse off than before. Religion hacks into the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system to create temporary euphoria, happiness, and a sense of calm, but like all addictions eventually the drug stops giving the high and the religious person goes through the religious motions just to feel normal.

By AlmostVulcan5
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Whilst that may be true still for the U.S. in the rest of the western world, despite an attempt to introduce it in the 1970's to capture the youth who were beginning to drift away, the happy-clappy evangalistic style of religious fervour never took off. These days (which again Marx could not have foreseen) television is the "opium of the people"

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I find myself in agreement with @RobLes. Religion is the ultimate placebo, which the image you've provide clearly ignores. Karl Marx's 'opiate of the masses' quote comes from a period in history when the throne propped up the altar, and vice versa--the two were in league with one another, and the public were incredibly ignorant and undervalued. Education replaces the need for opiates, and religion begins to fade in significance.

Just as an example to demonstrate my point, I suspect that you are either ignoring, or have never witnessed, those churches which are a seething mass of people colloquially known as the "happy clappers". That is a repeatable, addictive, dose of endorphins that they turn up for every Sunday. I imagine that it must be a lot like people getting addicted to going to the gym. Those endorphins induce powerful behaviour compulsions.

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Just found this on Reddit. Proof positive?

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This is also the reason so many rehab groups an organizations are religiously oriented. Addicts can become the most dedicated believers if they can channel their addiction into a religious belief, and the crazier their faith, the more of those chemicals get released, the more they believe. My guess is, if the Westboro Church members were tested when they are out spewing their hate messages, their dopamine and other euphoric numbers would be off the charts!

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I don’t know. For many people, thanks to the group support system of a church, and the ability of the pastors (con men or not), the euphoria of belief can be a lifelong high. I have known many people who go through life with a smile on their face, even in the middle of adversity. I have also known deeply religious people who were the most miserable malcontents you could imagine, but didn’t give up their faith out of belief that their god was just testing them. All they need is one thing to go right every so often to reload their faith.

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I think religion played a key and likely nearly essential role in helping human civilizations evolve into what they are today.

I also think this mental health axiom applies to religion well-what you once did for survival is now your biggest limitation.

As for religion being a drug, I experienced numerous delusional highs as a religious person. The problem is you keep wanting those fixes but there's only so many times you can trick your brain into pumping all those chemicals.

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That's extremely interesting. I never thought of religion that way. It makes sense why theists cling so vigorously to their faith.

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