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The Addiction Epidemic

Mural: Dig out of the drug hole. Photo: photographymontreal/Flickr/Creative Commons

Mural: Dig out of the addiction hole. Photo: photographymontreal/Flickr/Creative Commons

  1. I know a young man who turned out right. He has a wife and two children, a career, and a good attitude. When he was a troubled teen, a man in his church met with him for breakfast every second Saturday, and that simple kindness helped him to get focused, and stay away from trouble.
  2. A news article from Australia shows how bad it can get. An entire generation is being damaged by meth cooked in local labs. I have traveled through Montana, where large billboards warn about the dangers of meth, and many towns have lost their young people. Drug impairment is an important topic in defensive driving courses. Addiction is cheap, and addicts are profoundly sick.
  3. When I worked in a college, my favorite program coordinator was a recovering addict. One day, in a business meeting, she looked straight at me and said “I will be dead by Christmas.” I gave her my well-meaning Christian denial and I was sure God and the doctors would save her, but a few weeks later I was at her funeral. Meth killed her with stage four lung cancer after the addiction was broken.

Even if you live in a good neighborhood, the sickness of addiction will reach you like a biblical plague. The mix now includes locally produced drugs in competition with imported cocaine and heroin, and alcohol. Most of us don’t see the flood coming down on us.

So what is the answer? The point of being a Christian is to find God’s solutions for these monster problems.

We want to do good and to help lost souls; I was the managing director of an inner city rescue mission and I worked with some very dedicated volunteers. From my experience, addiction is too much of a monster for most of us. We can’t fix addicts. Only God can do that miracle.

The Bible tells us how to interact with addicts with advice about alcohol, the original drug. I put this into three categories; beginning, middle, and end because addiction is too complicated for just one method.

At the beginning, remember the vulnerable teenagers in your life. They need you more than you know, before they fall into the fire.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)

Some of my school friends died young from drugs. Loving prevention is where we can do our best work; some people can be saved before they are lost.

In the middle, addiction cannot be avoided; the monster is in the room. This might be the teenager who used to experiment with drugs, and didn’t turn away. At this stage, don’t let the monster into your home.

“But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” (I Corinthians 5:11).

I suggest you buy your addict friend coffee, go to a meeting and with them, and pray with them. Then leave them and go home. An addict carries something like another person inside, and the addiction will hurt everyone it touches. The root meaning of alcohol is “al” and “cohol”, “the spirit.” Sometimes you won’t know who is looking at you through those eyes.

Give an addict the good options, and let them make the choice.

The end always comes; you can’t un-ring the bell. An addict may lose a marriage, or children, or a career, or their health, and they may die.

Isaiah identified drunkenness as a cause for the collapse of an entire nation:

“Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards, to the fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley, to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine! … That wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards, will be trampled underfoot.” (Isaiah 28: 1 to 3)

If you get close to an addict, brace yourself for the permanent losses. If it helps, join your own support group. I have done that more than once.

If you are a well meaning Christian, you will eventually be pulled into someone’s addiction. The plague is everywhere. God bless you if you choose to help, but take care of yourself. The fire will burn you.

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