By Dickie Cooper
And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them (Gen. 1:27).
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
A 15 year-old girl was brought to the hospital emergency room with a group of five girls and two boys. All had deep lacerations and/or broken bones. The police explained that a fight had broken out at a local rock concert and that the 15 year-old girl, of medium height and build, had fought with such uncontrolled fury that she had inflicted all of the injuries on those who had been brought to the hospital with her. When the police attempted to subdue her, she broke facial bones in one officer’s face and bit off part of the cheek of another officer. The police finally used pepper spray on her, but in spite of the pepper spray and a broken arm, she showed no signs of pain and had to be strapped to the hospital bed with leather restraints across her arms, legs, and chest! Drug use was suspected and confirmed by both those who were brought to the hospital with her and blood tests. It seems her parents had bought the concert tickets for their daughter and her friends for her fifteenth birthday and the girl’s friends had bought her “a couple hits of K-hole” (ketamine). Her blood tests showed the presence of the hallucinogens ketamine and phencyclidine (better known as PCP).
Her parents were flabbergasted. Her father was a high school principal who had led the drug awareness program at his school and her mother was a social worker who was quite knowledgeable about drug abuse. Their daughter had always been well-behaved. When the girl recovered, she said she had never used drugs before and “thought that something like K-hole wouldn’t hurt. It was just one time, for my birthday. No big thing” (Taken from Drug Abuse by A. James Giannini, M.D.)
A recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report on the nation’s number one health problem indicates that the United States spends nearly $238 billion a year because of substance abuse! Alcohol abuse accounts for $98.6 billion of the total, tobacco for $72 billion and drug abuse for $67 billion. Alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs are a major cause of death, disability, and disease in this country. Alcohol and drug abuse are further related to the spread of HIV/AIDS, child abuse and neglect, trauma, murder and other violent crimes and psychiatric disorders. A recent government study indicated that in 1995, 41.7% of 12th graders had used marijuana and that 21.2% used it at least once a month. (Twenty million Americans — of all ages — smoke marijuana at least once a month, and nearly half of those use it once a week, and six million Americans use it daily.) 17.4% of 12th graders had used inhalants, 12.7% had used hallucinogens, 6% had used cocaine, 15.3% had used stimulants, and a whopping 80.7% had used alcohol!
While the Bible does not speak directly about drug use, it is logical to apply those Scriptures which teach about the use of alcohol to the use of drugs. Galatians 5:21 includes drunkenness in the list of deeds of the flesh and several passages in Proverbs warn of the dangers of intoxication (Prov. 20:1 and 23:19-21, for example).
We have been created in the image of God, and yet that young woman brought to the hospital emergency room did not display his image. She was not glorifying God in her body or treating her body as if it were God’s temple. She no longer had control of either her mind or her body because she had given them over to drugs.
The devastation caused by drug use — to society, to families, and to individuals — can’t be denied. To see a family torn apart by substance abuse is heart-breaking. The prevalence of drug abuse in our society also can’t be disputed, and yet I fear that Christians have not admitted that drug abuse is a problem among us. Yet, how can it not be? We live in the world and are not immune to its problems. We have seen other “worldly” problems such as divorce, adultery, fornication, alcoholism, and materialism creep into our congregations. Drug abuse is also creeping in, and we need to be aware of it instead of denying it.
What do we need to do? First, we need to teach and preach frequently about the dangers of drug use. We need to teach that just like alcohol, drugs cause intoxication. While intoxicated, a person will do things he would not normally do. Drugs decrease inhibitions; they decrease the control that our conscience has over us. Drug use often accounts for teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease, crime, and suicide. (It is a sad fact that as drug use has increased among young people, juvenile crime and suicide have increased proportionately.) We need to teach that drugs can be fatal. Young people need to know that a non-fatal dose for one person may be a fatal dose for another. It’s also important for teens to realize that drugs cause the same kind of physical impairment as alcohol when driving. We need to teach that perhaps the worst danger of drug use is the possibility of addiction or drug dependence. Teens need to know that there is no such thing as “safe” drug use. Any drug which produces intoxication can cause physical dependence! Dependence often leads to a life of crime. The dependent person may begin to steal or to deal drugs in order to financially support his habit. His health will suffer and there is always the constant danger of death from overdose or from “bad” or contaminated drugs. Our young people need to know that these dangers are real and not exaggerated just to scare them.
Dr. Robert DuPont, Jr., in his Getting Tough on Gateway Drugs, indicates that drug use almost always begins between the ages of twelve and twenty. As preachers and teachers, we must help those young people develop the skills to withstand the pressure to use drugs. As parents, we must start teaching our children long before they are twelve years old about the dangers of drug use and what God teaches about it. And as preachers, teachers and parents, we must never assume that drug use is someone else’s problem, one that doesn’t really affect us. If 41.7% of high school seniors have used marijuana, how can we be so naïve as to assume that no high school senior in our congregation (or in our family) has tried it?
Second, we need to educate ourselves about the different kinds of drugs, the effects of these drugs, the warning signs of drug use, the reasons that young people start using drugs and why they keep using them. Peer pressure may be the reason most kids start using, but the reason they keep using is because they like the way drugs make them feel. We must face that reality if we are to truly teach our children and not just “preach at” them. Every parent needs to know the warning signs of drug use. While they may vary slightly from drug to drug or from person to person, there are some common signs. If you notice any of these signs in your child, it may not be because of drug use, but the possibility is there and that possibility must not be ignored! When one of my daughters began to use drugs, she exhibited most of these warning signs, but drug use never occurred to us. My wife and I tried dealing with each behavior as she manifested it — talking, reasoning, discipline, punishment — but nothing worked. We then turned to the professionals: first a licensed clinical social worker and then a renowned psychiatrist. Still nothing changed. It was only after she left home and was subsequently arrested for writing bad checks that she admitted her problem.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse reports that parents’ drinking behavior and attitudes about drinking has been associated as an important risk factor for their children’s drinking. It is logical that the same holds true for other drug use. As parents, you must ask yourselves what is your real attitude about drug use. Before you answer that question, go to your medicine cabinet. How many pain relievers do you have? Besides aspirin or ibuprofen, is there some Demerol or Percocet (just in case you need it.) What about sleeping aids? Do you reach for the Tylenol PM regularly and keep some Seconal (just in case?) Do you need Valium or Xanax (sometimes called “solid booze”) to make it through the day? If you need to loose weight, do you go buy Dexatrim or some other appetite suppressant to help you? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you must be concerned about what kind of message this sends to your children or grandchildren. Does it tell them that your real attitude about drugs is that it is OK to use them? We live in an over-medicated world that tells us that there is a drug to solve nearly any problem. We live in a world that tells us to “take a pill” to get well instead of changing behavior patterns that have led us to get sick in the first place. I fear that this sort of attitude prevents our young people from developing a healthy fear of illicit, prescription and over-the-counter drugs. It also opens the door to drug abuse problems in our own lives. So, like the girl brought to the hospital emergency room, drug use seems to be “no big thing.” Even though my wife and I are not guilty of this (we don’t even take an aspirin unless it’s absolutely necessary), we still constantly ask ourselves what we might have done differently to have prevented our child’s problems. Drug use is definitely a great big thing!
Instead of giving our minds and our bodies over to drugs, we need to give them to God. 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 says:
For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore, come our from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me,” says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (emphasis mine, DC).
I can think of no better statement against the use of drugs than that!
105 E. Main St., Stanford, Kentucky 40484
February 3, 2000