ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE
- Treat lightly or destroy the idea of sin.
- Lives destroyed:
- Twenty–five thousand people killed each year by drunken drivers on our streets and highways.
- Crime, robbery, rape, broken homes, juvenile delinquency all traceable to this sin.
- God's plan has purpose, direction, hope, and happiness.
- The Bible speaks plainly:
- Both alcohol and drugs are dealt with.
- Society has ignored the warnings and dangers. The disasters have not seemed to change the direction of their course.
- The spiritual message is often watered down because they do not wish to face the eternal consequences.
- Relevant Bible passages:
- The drinking of alcohol is mentioned forty–five times in the Scriptures.
- One passage in the New Testament particularly addresses drug abuse, and many passages prohibit strong drink,
- Read these passages: Leviticus 10:8–11; Proverbs 31:4–5; Ecclesiastes 10:17; Isaiah 28:7; I Timothy 3:3–8; Numbers 6:3; Luke 1:15; Genesis 9:22–25; 10:30–38; Esther 1:5–22; Proverbs 23:29–35; Isaiah 22:13; Hosea 4:10–11. Could be many more.
- Paul mentions drunkenness and witchcraft in the same list (Galatians 5:19–21).
- Drunkenness is always strongly condemned (Luke 21:34; I Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:18; I Corinthians 5:11).
- Chemical dependence:
- There are different kinds of addictions.
- Nicotine has been called the “gate–way drug.”
- The drinking of alcohol in our country begins at a very early age—even with small children.
- In high school, one–quarter of American students are users of illegal drugs, two–thirds are frequent users of alcohol, one in five uses tobacco daily.
- More than fifty percent have used marijuana; ten percent hallucinogens, and over ninety percent alcoholic beverages.
- The slide into abuse:
- Drug abuse and alcoholism are very closely related and seldom separated.
- When urged or driven by a drink, pill, or a smoke, addiction has already set in.
- Eighteen million known alcoholics in the United States and only a fraction on skid row. Most of them maintain homes, families, and jobs, and are masters at facades.
- Disease of denial:
- Perhaps the most serious thing about addiction is denial.
- We know that many drink too much or use drugs excessively, but the fear and shame which accompany the acknowledgement of it causes us to shrink from facing the truth and admitting it so we may help those addicted to seek medical help.
- Why addiction?
- As a means of solving social and emotional problems.
- Supposedly enables one to forget a thousand troubles.
- Places him with associates and in an environment where his friends do not find fault and condemn him.
- There are millions of children born with this strike of addiction already against them, because of the addiction of the mother during the period of pregnancy.
- Home dysfunction
- There is the pattern of alibis, social pressures, grandiose behavior, aggression, guilt, remorse, periods of cessation, changes in drinking habits, the decay of home and other social relationships, problems on the job, increase in the importance of the substance.
- Most die without getting the spiritual help that will enable them to recover and put the problem behind them.
- Not only is the addict sick, but the misery is passed on to co dependents. There is much this person must learn and do in order to help solve the problem—if there is any hope at all for a remedy.
- Hiding one's head in the sand and denying that his/her spouse is an addict will never get the job done.
- Children of addicts do not properly understand what normal behavior is and have serious difficulties adjusting.
- There is hope and a way up:
- Radical change is necessary.
- Only through the revealed path of God can we find the ability to self–control and hope, happiness, and purpose.
- To overcome anger, hate, and resentment, we must respond to God's will and spend time in meditation, study, and prayer—if we expect to be led away from drugs and alcohol with all of its attendant hurts.
- Seven tips for parents:
- Set limits on your children—knowing where and with whom they are associating.
- Talk about alcohol and drugs from authentic information.
- Get involved with others in your fight against these evils.
- Don't deny. If it is true, face up to it.
- Look for behavior changes—friends, language, attitude, physical appearance, weight loss, grades, interests.
- Gate–way drugs. The wrong example of the use of tobacco, drugs, alcohol can lead children into abuse and addiction.
- Get help. When you discover the problem, get help immediately.
- The most successful help is free.
- There are recovery support groups everywhere.
- Read and study carefully the twelve steps with the Scriptures to help you help yourself as well as those who are in desperate need around you.
- You must keep in mind that the transgression of God's law is sin, and carries consequences very far reaching.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE
During the close of the nineteenth century a new social philosophy, along with a new code of morality, emerged all over the world. This was not a rebellion against God and the Bible, but a sustained effort to destroy the idea of sin. Those acts and thoughts which gave sensitive minds feelings of guilt were no longer to be seen as sinful, immoral, or wrong. any action not carnal or caused by disease might be inelegant, in bad taste, or unpleasant, but not categorized as sin.
The expansion of these ideas was originally taken from the fields of hypnosis, psychoanalysis, conditioned reflex phenomena, the discovery of drugs which alter mood and behavior, and changes in the scientific methodology of research. They have given rise, in our day, to the idea that no man is responsible for his own actions. Thus, when 25,000 people are killed on our highways each year by drunk drivers, or a drug addict causes a train wreck, or a drunken mob rapes and terrorizes, or a condemned mass murderer confesses that all the gruesome acts were committed under the influence, the defense often argues that the perpetrators are chemical dependents. Supposedly, this nullifies and excuses the deeds.
God, in His wisdom, designed a pattern for living so that we might have purpose, direction, hope, and happiness. The man who, out of love and gratitude, seeks to know and do the will of God is rewarded in both this life and the next.
The Bible Speaks Plainly
The word of God speaks plainly about the abuse of both drugs and alcohol. Our society has ignored the warning and now faces the most far–reaching social disaster of all time. Ninety–seven percent of our homes and families are, to some extent, dysfunctional. Lives are out of control, unhappiness and bewilderment prevail, suicide statistics are escalating, and crime is at an all time high.
In an atmosphere of panic, support groups who offer hope and direction to individuals and families affected by drugs and alcohol are increasing at unprecedented rates. The airways are clogged with talk shows and documentaries which discuss every
aspect of the aftermath of our national tolerance of the very thing condemned by the inspired word. We have sown to the wind and now reap the whirlwind. Churches across our land are dying, not because the message of the Bible is weak, ineffective, or irrelevant, but because we have not opened our eyes and hearts to the pain and desperation of a baffled society.
Secular support groups borrow, disguise, and water down the spiritual message of hope rendered in Christ and give serenity of mind, but not salvation to a grasping society. They meet several times a day in many borrowed and rented rooms in every town and village and still the numbers grow. We must awaken to the challenge created by the sins of alcohol and drug abuse. We must learn to recognize the resulting personality disorders, understand the damage done to affected spouses and children, know how they respond and cope, and, with compassion, lead them to the solution of all of life's woes through both the knowledge and the understanding of how to apply the message of Jesus to their own life and soul.
Relevant Bible Passages
The drinking of alcohol is mentioned in fifty–five verses of scripture. One passage in the New Testament especially addresses drug abuse. Many of the passages prohibit those in positions of secular or spiritual leadership from the use of strong drink. Aaron and his sons were not to drink while rendering service to God (Leviticus 10:8–11). Officials with responsibility for human life should not imbibe (Proverbs 31:4–5). The nation is blessed with leaders who refrain from drunkenness (Ecclesiastes 10:17). Spiritual leaders became incapable because of their drinking (Isaiah 28:7).
Church leaders in the New Testament must not be given to wine (I Timothy 3:3, 8). The Nazarite vow excluded strong drink (Numbers 6:3; Luke 1:15). Various forms of immoral sexual behavior are associated with drunkenness. Noah, in a drunken and naked state, was accosted by his youngest son, Ham (Genesis 9:22–25). Lot's incestuous relationship with his own daughters was a result of drinking (Genesis 19:30–38). King Ahasuerus tried to subject his queen, Vashti, to the immoral gaze of drunken princes (Esther 1:5, 22). Drinking fills minds with impure and perverse thoughts (Proverbs 23:31–33).
Carnal living and immorality go hand in hand with drinking (Isaiah 22:13; Hosea 4:10–11). Young women were sold for the price of a drink (Joel 3:3). Drinking is an attitude of rebellious disobedient sons (Deuteronomy 21:20). David's drinking led him to murder. Others died at the hands of those who were drunk (II Samuel 11:13; I Samuel 25:36–38; II Samuel 13:28–29; I Kings 16:8–10; I kings 20:13–21; Isaiah 24:20).
Drinking alters personality and deceives a man (Proverbs 20:1). It produces sorrow, woe, contentions, babbling, and wounds without cause (Proverbs 23:29–30). Drinking gives a man a false sense of invincibility (Isaiah 56:12). Drinking leads to the profaning of sacred things (Daniel 5:3). Drinking makes one scornful and selfish (Hosea 7:5; Amos 6:3–6). Arrogance is inflamed by drink (Habakkuk 2:5). Those who drink are not alert (Matthew 24:18–51). Rioting and drunkenness are shown opposite of honesty (Romans 13:13).
The addictive nature of drinking and its progressive destructiveness are discussed (Proverbs 23:35; 23:32; 23:20; Habakkuk 2:16; Proverbs 21:17; 23:21). God's people are forbidden from setting the wrong example for others (Habakkuk 2:15; Romans 14:21). The seriousness of the sin of drunkenness is shown in these passages that teach that drunkards are not prepared for the Judgment Day and shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Luke 21:34; I Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21). Christians are commanded not to be drunk (Ephesians 5:18) or to keep company with drunkards (I Corinthians 5:11).
Paul gives a list of the sins of the flesh in Galatians 5:19–21. He lists both drunkenness and witchcraft. The New Testament word translated as witchcraft is pharmakia. This is the same word from which we derive our English word pharmacy. The word deals specifically with the abuse of drugs. The use of hallucinogenic drugs in practicing witchcraft in its various forms is and was so common that the words were synonymous. We should not be amazed that God delivered warnings thousands of years ago that in recent times are being discovered for their timely applications to people. The modern psychological profile of the chemically dependent personality does not differ from the passages in the preceding paragraphs. These people have low self–esteem, tell the truth or keep promises with great difficulty, think irrationally, estrange themselves from all but drinking or using partners, deny that
they have a problem, are forgetful, disorganized, late, addictive, and compulsive. Sexual abuse and looseness are common. Intolerant is the trait that does not allow for the delay of the gratification of personal desires. This, in turn, leads to progressive involvement and often crime to support the habit. The thought and behavioral traits of the dependent personality adversely affect family members, and are uniformly passed on to the next generation. In this way almost every family has been touched and we have lost sight of personal interaction that is normal, and the ideal of the family as God intended it to function.
God, in His love, set a standard and blazed a trail with His own Son that would provide purpose, service, happiness, hope, and peace. He intended that children be brought up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4) with both a father and a mother to guide them. Forty–five percent of our children are raised in a single family home, and one in four children has at least one alcoholic parent and is thus between four and ten times as likely to become addicted as other children.
The dependent personality exists even among those who have never had a drink or a smoke or a sniff. Those traits, which are character flaws, may express themselves in other fields. Groups are now formed to deal with work–aholics, food–aholics, sex–aholics, and even neg–aholics—people addicted to negative thinking.
These recognized addictions are treated in much the same way as alcohol and drug dependency. Treatment is also needed for families of all these addictions, because they, too, have been caught up in a senseless merry–go–round proceeding nowhere.
The road to addiction unusually begins with nicotine. I Heard a young addict on a television program involving hundreds of people say that this was true always without exception. He called it the gate–way drug. The addiction then advances to beer, hard liquor, marijuana and/or various pills or hallucinogenics, then to cocaine and/or the form called crack. There are exceptions to this procedure, but this is the norm. The frightening news is that young people are being hooked as increasingly earlier ages.
Drugs are illegal for everyone. Although alcohol and tobacco are legal for adults, they are almost always illegal for school age children. Every state has raised its drinking age to twenty–one. In forty–four states the sale of tobacco to minors is forbidden. The scope of drug use is not confined to particular population groups or economic levels. Thirty–nine percent of urban youth have used drugs by graduation day, as compared to thirty–two percent in rural areas. Female students use drugs at only a slightly lower rate than males —thirty–four percent verses thirty–eight percent.
By age thirteen, thirty percent of boys and twenty–two percent of girls have begun to drink alcohol. Two percent of sixth graders have experimented with marijuana and five percent of junior high students are daily tobacco users
By hight school graduation, one–quarter of American students are frequent users of illegal drugs, two–thirds are frequently users of alcohol, one in five uses tobacco daily. More than fifty percent have used marijuana, ten percent hallucinogens, and over ninety percent alcoholic beverages.
Seventy percent of child and adolescent suicides can be directly related to depression aggravated by drug and alcohol abuse. The United States suffers the highest rate of teenage substance abuse in the industrialized world. No family can bury its head and pretend not to be concerned. Statistics show that kids usually get their drugs from a close friend or a relative and are most influenced by peer pressure. Truly, “evil companionship corrupts good morals” (I Corinthians 15:33, ASV). One–fourth of fourth graders are pressured to try drugs and the median age for drug and alcohol use is eleven and one–half years.
The Slide Into Abuse
Chemical abuses are closely related since drug addiction is seldom, if ever, isolated from alcoholism. This information was shared by Barbara starr, First Vice–Chairperson of the National Council on Alcoholism. We note many similar characteristics in all forms of abuse. The slide into abuse can be gradual and subtle. While kids are pressured by peers, many adults use substances to cope with daily problems, frustrations, and feelings of inferiority.
Alcohol or drugs or both become a pattern because of unrelieved stress. Over a period of time, a person can become psychologically addicted to chemicals as a method of coping with personal problems.
Abuse has already occurred when one automatically reaches for a drink, smoke, or a pill when difficulties or emotional stress are present. By persistently keeping chemicals in the bloodstream, one may alter metabolism and become physically addicted as well. Alcohol or drugs should never be used to escape problems or to cure loneliness, boredom, or depression.
The Bible teaches us to resolve our problems through knowledge, prayer, seeking forgiveness, setting our minds on values above, correcting interpersonal wrongs, and understanding our worth as those made in the image of the Maker.
Of the eighteen million known alcoholics in the United States, only three to five percent exist on Skid Row. Most maintain homes and families, and are masters of facades. Thus, the greatest roadblock to early and successful treatment has always been its prime symptom—denial.
Addicted people use hundreds of forms of attempted control to maintain denial. These include drinking only beer, never drinking alone, never drinking before noon, never drinking during business hours, seeing a counselor, going on the wagon for periods of time, and on and on.
Disease of Denial
Denial is the biggest thing about addiction. Most families make an effort to hide the problem. It is ignored and denied. We know that someone drinks too much, or someone uses drugs, but we are baffled, ashamed, or hurt and in such pain that the truth is almost never faced. It is a secret that everyone shares. Our attitude and fears make it worse and we pass the effects of this destructive monster from generation to generation. The debate rages about calling alcoholism and drug abuse a disease. Usage of the term is usually acceptable if properly defined. Over a period of time, abusers alter brain–cell function, induce nerve damage, shrink the cerebral cortex, imbalance the hormonal system, and damage vital organs.
Life expectancy drops from twenty to forty years below national averages depending on complications. Children of abusers can inherit things that make them more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. We are influenced by our genes which affect psychological and metabolic functioning and social environment. One does not inherit alcoholism, but a genetic predisposition which renders a person more metabolically vulnerable if drinking is chosen. Addiction is still created by our world which fosters careless, socially encouraged, abusive practices as a means of solving emotional problems.
Regardless of background, no one can assume that he or she has an immunity. Great concern is being given , and criminal charges are being filed, over the birth of children who are already addicted. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and drug abuse is one of the three leading causes of mental retardation and the only preventable one. The safe alcohol consumption level for a pregnant woman is none.
Chemical dependency follows a familiar pattern. Sometimes the order changes or the behavior is temporarily suspended, then resumes. The pattern is one of loss of control, alibis, social pressures, grandiose behavior, aggression, guilt, remorse, periods of cessation, changes in drinking or using patterns, the decay of social relationships, problems on the job, increase in the importance of the substance (I heard abusers say on the television program Crack Down that they were married to it and loved it above anyone or anything else—Editor), seeking counseling, family problems, unreasonable resentments, escape, chain drinking or using, ethical breakdown, loss of logical thought processes, jealousy, decreased tolerance, fears, tremors and shakes, bankruptcy of alibis, admission of defeat, and seeking a helping hand.
Most die without getting the spiritual help that will put them in recovery. It is horrible living with an active dependent personality. The addict is not the only one who is sick and in need of help. The spouses and associates of alcoholics and drug users are labeled as codependents. They also become very unattractive people and contribute to the dysfunction of the home. Codependents, without a spiritual program of recovery, are barely
surviving while they cope with outrageous circumstances. Most do not realize the mistakes they are making. For years they have been doing all the wrong things even for the right reasons.
Before circumstances can change, they too must be aware and accept their part in aggravating the sad scenario. Most codependents who see support groups are looking for help in getting the addict to stop. At that point there is a delusion that if the addict would stop, things would return to normal. However, years of playing games, building defenses, and trying to control another's drinking or using have put the codependent in a position to need active and vital spiritual programs of recovery.
Codependents are rescuers, caretakers, and enablers. They do things for others that keep them from meeting responsibilities and that allow them to continue the abuse without suffering consequences for their actions.
Codependents help increase family anger, anxiety, and denial. The codependent rescues and then gets resentful and begins to persecute the addict. They nag, lecture, scream, cry, beg, coerce, hover over, protect, accuse, chase after, try to talk out of, attempt to induce guilt, entrap, check up on, scold, lock in, lock out, and snarl out demeaning names. The methods are endless and the goal is always the same—make someone else do what you want them to do. In time, we must learn that neither the drinking nor the controlling behavior is normal.
The most detrimental effect is on the children caught in the middle. The bad, sad news is that the effect of the dysfunctional home on the children is much worse than previously suspected.
Twenty–three million children of alcoholics, of which seven million are under the age of eighteen, have been identified. Common traits of children, many of them now adults, have been identified—not all of which have each trait.
Those who are children of alcoholics guess what normal behavior is, follow projects from beginning to end with great difficulty, and lie when it is just as easy to tell the truth. They judge themselves without mercy, struggle to have fun, take themselves very seriously, and shy away from intimate relationships.
They overreact to changes concerning which they have no control, constantly seek approval and affirmation, and feel differently from other people. They are either super responsible or super irresponsible, they are loyal even when it is undeserved, and frequently lock themselves into a course of action without giving consideration to the consequences. They become isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
As approval seekers, they loose their identity. Children of alcoholics are frightened by angry people and react to criticism in the extreme. Most become alcoholics, marry alcoholics, or both. Some will find another compulsive personality to fulfill the abandonment needs. They are addicted to excitement. These people are terrified of abandonment.
There is Hope and a Way Up
When we get so far away from what God in His wisdom has revealed as His path through life for us that offers hope, happiness, purpose, and eternal communion with Him, we must seek radical change. Recovery begins with an awareness of why our lives are chaotic. We must accept blame for our own wrongs.
We must detach from those things over which we have no control and be willing to grow with humility and repentance toward the image of God's will. Through study, prayer, and meditation, we can move past anger, hate, and resentment. We must not only accept responsibility for our life and soul, but must guide our children and others to the path that will lead them up and away from alcohol and drugs with all of its attendant hurt and destruction.
Seven Tips for Parents
Raising drug and alcohol free children in our society does not just happen. These tips are helpful guidelines to reducing a scourge on our society.
- Set limits. Know your children's friends. Know where they are and what they are doing. Expect them home on time.
- Talk about alcohol and drugs. Seek information and talk about it together. Discuss peer pressure. Listen to what your child is facing. Be there for them.
- Get involved. Join with other parents to fight drugs. Encourage meetings with Christian parents and teens. Learn to recognize drugs and paraphernalia.
- Don't Deny. “Not my kid,” has become the norm when discoveries are made. By denying the truth when it is presented, parents encourage self–destruction. Catch it early.
- Look for behavior changes. These changes may be in friends, language, attitudes, physical appearance, weight loss, grades, interests, etc. One or two changes may be normal; several are a danger sign.
- Gateway drugs. The wrong example with use of prescriptions or tobacco or alcohol can lead children to abuse. We give out mixed messages when we forbid one thing while using another. Children are not deceived by the behavior of their parents.
- Get help. If you discover the problem, do not delay. Addiction is progressive. It does not get better; only worse. Destruction strikes rapidly. A friend had a delightful 15–year old son who tried crack over the Christmas holidays. A year later, after ten months of treatment and the exhausting of medical insurance, he was informed that the next step was three to five years of rigid treatments at $365 a day.
The Most Successful Help is Free
There are recovery support groups all over the world to help all forms of addicts and their families. All are based on Alcoholics Anonymous for the alcoholic and Al–Anon, Ala–Teen, and Young Ala–Teen for families of alcoholics. There is adult Children of Alcoholics, Cocaine Anonymous, and many others.
All of these use the Twelve step approach to recovery along with meetings to teach and encourage putting the program to work in daily living. Each offers a telephone list of people to call if you have a tough time between meetings and an atmosphere of acceptance and belonging.
Help is non–judgmental, but relentless as it points to the steps of the program. Twenty–four hour telephone answering services are maintained by volunteers. These are not counseling services; they will only give you the time and location of the next meeting nearest you and encourage you to attend.
The Twelve Steps are nothing more than a restatement of passages from the inspired book, the Bible.
Twelve Steps with Scriptures
- We admit that we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable (Proverbs 23:19–35; Romans 6:16; II Peter 2:19; John 8:34; Galatians 5:16–21; Proverbs 20:1).
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity (Philippians 2:13; Psalm 107:27–30; Proverbs 3:5–6; Psalm 111:10; Galatians 2:20).
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him (Hebrews 11:6; John 7:16–17; John 1:10–13; Joshua 24:15; Isaiah 55:6–7).
- Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves (Proverbs 28:13; Psalm 32:5; I Corinthians 11:31; Romans 12:3; Galatians 6:3).
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs (James 5:16; John 1:8–10; Ephesians 5:15–18; Psalm 32:3–5).
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character (Psalm 32:5–6; Isaiah 5:6–7; James 4:6–10; Psalm 139:23–24; Ephesians 2:8–18).
- Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14; II Corinthians 10:4–6; II Chronicles 7:14; I John 1:7; Psalm 51:1–3).
- Make a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all (Proverbs 16:17; Ephesians 4:25–27; 4:30–31; Exodus 20:16–17; Colossians 3:13; Matthew 5:21–24).
- Make direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others (Luke 19:8–9; Romans 12:14–18; Romans 13:6–9; Philippians 2:14–15; Romans 12:21).
- Continued to take personal inventory and when wrong, promptly admitted it. (I Corinthians 10:13; I John 3:1–3; Proverbs 21:2; Psalm 139:23–24; Luke 6:41).
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and the power to carry that out (Romans 12:1; II Peter 1:2–10; Psalm 1:1–3; Ephesians 1:17–19; I Timothy 4:14–16).
- Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs (II Corinthians 1:3–4; Romans 15:1–2; Matthew 28:18–20; 25:40; II Corinthians 5:17–20; Mark 5:19).
We must have no doubt that the transgression of God's word is sin and will separate us from Him. We need also to know that God loves us and lays down certain commands to protect us from self–destructive ways.
Choosing to disobey carries consequences that reach beyond us to touch the lives of those yet unborn. We can and must repent and turn from our present ways or the forces of destruction will continue to mount their attack on both young and old. We in the church cannot continue to ignore the devastation of sin upon our land and allow someone else to satisfy the longing of the sin sick soul with only a part of the message of hope. We must arise to the undeniable and clarion call of the Captain of our salvation and march against the enemy.