Young Christians in a Drug Oriented Society
Central City, Kentucky
There are other subjects on which I had rather write, but perhaps none more needful than this one. The drug problem which permeates our society knows no boundaries. In the Third Annual Report To The U.S. Congress from the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (1973), after giving us some sobering statistics of this widespread problem, the National Institute On Drug Abuse in their book on Marihuana and Health said this: "Rates did not differ significantly among racial groups and ONLY SLIGHTLY BY RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION. There is no new data suggesting that these patterns have changed..." (p. 23). Members of the church of Christ are not exempt. This writer is familiar with three congregations which have been troubled with the problem among their young. No doubt there are others which have not yet discovered an existing problem. There is some new and revealing information in some recent studies that I would like to share with you.
Marijuana Is Harmful
There is no dispute that other drugs are harmful (amphetamines, barbiturates, LSD, Heroin, etc.). Our remarks will be confined (for the most part) to marijuana, as it is the point of controversy. There is a movement underway to legalize it. "When smoked, marihuana quickly enters the bloodstream and acts on the brain and nervous system. It affects the user's mood and thinking. Some scientists report that the drug accumulates in the liver. ... The more obvious physical reactions include rapid heart beat, lowering of body temperature, and sometimes reddening of the eyes. The drug also changes blood sugar levels, stimulates the appetite, and dehydrates the body. . . . "1 The sense of time and distance of many users frequently becomes distorted. A MINUTE MAY SEEM LIKE AN HOUR. SOMETHING NEAR MAY SEEM FAR AWAY."2 "In a set of experiments designed to study the effects of alcohol and marihuana on driving-related visual functions, it was found that 'marihuana interfered with PERIPHERAL VISION as well as CENTRAL VISION to a greater extent than alcohol under a wider variety of task demands... there is sufficient evidence at this time to justify the warning that even social doses of marihuana may impair performance sufficiently to lead to motor vehicle accidents. . . 3
A study has been made in "personality predictors" to see what kinds of people are most apt to take drugs. This was made on junior and senior high students and their characteristics before they experimented with drugs. According to the study of students in six selected school systems near Boston,. . a small number of characteristics were quite in evidence among students who later, in 1972, would use marihuana... Among these characteristics were: rebelliousness, low grade point average, cigarette smoking, and favorable attitude toward cigarette smoking. Among these, rebelliousness toward authorities and rules was the strongest predictor. All of these characteristics were more true' of marijuana users than nonusers, and more true of heavier users than of light users. . . "4 Evidence is overwhelming that drugs (marijuana included) can harm the body and mind. Many young people have been brainwashed into thinking that "marijuana is harmless." That statement is false to the core. Some have been too prejudiced to accept the facts. Youth is not exempt from prejudice and can be just as stubborn and hypocritical as they sometimes accuse the older generation of being.
Another statement is that "Marijuana does not mean automatic graduation to hard narcotics and is not addicting." There is just enough truth in that statement to lead to real tragedy for anyone who believes it is complete truth. Scientists have stressed that while marijuana is not addicting, it can produce a drug dependency. `A study of 970 white, male drug addicts admitted to the Addiction Research Center at Lexington, Kentucky from 16 states . . .disclosed that 764 of them, or nearly 80%, had prior histories of marijuana use. On the average, they were two years younger than other addicts at the time of their first arrest and were determined to be TWICE AS LIKELY to become heroin addicts as were nonusers of marijuana."5
Another defence is "It's my body and my mind and it's nobody's business what I use." This statement too, is false to the core. Dallas County (Texas) District Attorney Henry Wade has pointed out that "smoking marijuana while driving an automobile, baby-sitting, fighting in battles, flying an airplane, or performing any ONE OF THOUSANDS OF ACTS can, and does, endanger the lives of people other than the user. "6 Thus it becomes everybody's business.
Bad Company: A Basic Factor in Drug Abuse
"The teenagers' use is CLOSELY CORRELATED WITH USE BY HIS FRIENDS. When none of a teenager's friends reported use of drugs, ONLY ONE OUT OF FIFTEEN youngsters themselves reported use. When all of their friends reported use, NINE OUT OF TEN had also used the drug.... THE MORE PEER-ORIENTED AS OPPOSED TO PARENT-ORIENTED THE YOUNGSTER IS, THE MORE LIKELY HE IS TO BE A USER (by peer-oriented is meant the amount of time spent with friends, greater reliance on advice of friends than on that of parents, etc.)."7
"One study has focused on the sources of information used by elementary and secondary students in various states of acquaintance with marihuana. The sources of information about marihuana mentioned most frequently by all students... were parents, television, and friends. BUT THERE WERE DISTINCT DIFFERENCES IN THE TYPES OF SOURCES ACCEPTED BY STUDENTS AT VARIOUS GRADE LEVELS. For 5th graders, television and - parents were most significant: for 7th graders, FRIENDS and television: and for 11th graders, FRIENDS AND OTHER STUDENTS played the largest role. In general. younger children use more socially approved sources compared with older students (who tend to rely on 'non-authority sources). The authors commented that many students appear unaware of the influence process surrounding their decisions about marihuana use."8
Somewhere between the fifth and seventh grades parents are losing their young people to their companions. Our youth must remember that the poorest excuse for doing anything is "everybody else is doing it." Evil companionships still corrupt good morals (1 Cor. 15:33; Prov. 1:10-19).
Marijuana also silences the conscience. `A person using marihuana finds it harder to make decisions that require clear thinking. And he finds himself MORE EASILY OPEN TO OTHER PEOPLES SUGGESTIONS... 9 This is why drugs and sex go together. A boy not on drugs is less likely to make sexual advances toward a girl. A girl who uses drugs is more easily influenced to have sex. Many boys who use drugs know this too. That is why they influence their girlfriends to try drugs. About as many females now use marijuana as do males.
When a person=s conscience is dulled or silenced, he is more likely to commit a crime. Intoxication (whether alcohol or other drugs) creates a false courage-usually more courage than sense. A high percentage of crimes are committed by people under the influence of liquor or other drugs. They can get "courage" in bottle, a pill, or a marijuana cigarette.
The major reason for our drug problem, as given by the National District Attorney's Association, is the belief that medicine can solve every problem. Parents program their children to believe that there is a pill for every problem. One of the greatest forms of drug abuse is the misuse of tranquilizers and pep pills by well-meaning parents. There are pills to make you sleep, wake you up, keep you alert, help you make it through the day (plus cigarettes and coffee between pills) etc. Pills are "problem solvers." Alcohol and drug abuse are substitutes for suicide and are chosen for the same reason-a desire for easy solutions and escape from reality. We live in a drug-oriented society. The Christian should beware! Not too surprisingly, drug use by children is related to drug use by parents. When both parents use drugs such as alcohol, TOBACCO (pay attention brethren) and other psychoactive drugs, there is a greater likelihood that their children will use marihuana... The probability of drug use is also associated with such factors as LACK OF FAMILY COHESIVENESS, use of other medications and LESS PARENTAL EMPHASIS ON SELF-CONTROL."10
Not many doctors will tell their patients to use self control. It is easier to prescribe pills. If you go wanting pills, they will nearly always give them to you. After all, pills are "miracle workers." I have nothing against the medical profession. I think it is great. But they are not infallible. No one is. Self-control could solve most of the problems that people (even Christians) are depending on drugs to solve (tobacco is a drug and the difference between it and other drugs is one of degree). Christians are to exercise self-control (I Cor. 9:27; 2 Pet. 1:6).
Notice also in the preceding quote that a "lack of family cohesiveness" is a part of the drug problem. Two young girls in the school system here who had been using drugs said they felt like they "had been rejected by their fathers." Too many fathers think they have "more important things to do" than rear children (Eph. 6:4). Such "fathers" are worse than infidels (I Tim. 5:8). They should teach their children to honor good men and women, not Timothy Learys, Janis Joplins, and weirdos who eat live chickens, feathers and all (Alice Coopers).
So you want to expand your mind? You can stretch it all out of shape and warp it with drugs, if you want to call that "mind expansion." However, the real secret to mind expansion is found in Proverbs 1:7. And if you really want fo get "stoned," try drinking wet cement. It's guaranteed to work. In the meantime, do not be afraid of reality. Forget your nickel bags, dime bags, tripweed, etc.-roaches too (drug terms). "Blowing your mind" is nothing to brag about. There's nothing new about it. You could stay that way, you know. Many have.
The information contained in this article about marijuana is only what has been discovered up to the present. Authorities are not through studying it yet; which is all the more reason to avoid experimenting with it.
It should be remembered that with the exception of Lifeline, the other sources quoted herein are not concerned with this subject from a moral standpoint, all of which should convince young people that they were not just trying to put somebody down. (All caps in the quotations were by me).
1. Marihuana. Some Questions And Answers, Tract by Public Information Branch National Institute of Mental Health, Chevy Chase, Md. 20015. U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1969.
2. Life Line Freedom Talk, No. 62, Dallas, Texas 75206, December 28, 1970.
3. Marihuana and Health; Third Annual.Report to the U.S. Congress From The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. National Institute On Drug Abuse, 1973, p.14,15
4. Ibid., p.37.
5. American Criminal Law Quarterly 7:174, "Marijuana And Relevant: Problems," G. Joseph Tauro, Spring 1969.
6. Life Line.
7. Marihuana and Health. p.7.
8. Ibid., p.34.
9. Marihuana, Some Questions and Answers.
10. Marihuana and Health, p.7.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:44, p. 6-8