Millions of Christians Will Be Praying … Will You?

Your Prayers

PLEASE JOIN WITH US  DURING THE WEEKEND OF APRIL 27 – APRIL 28, 2019

For The

29th ANNUAL “Just Pray NO!” to Drugs  WORLDWIDE WEEKEND of PRAYER and FASTING

TO LEARN MORE CLICK HERE

Since April 7th, 1991 “Just Pray NO!” Ltd. has united millions of  Christians  from 150 nations and territories around the world in intercessory prayer on behalf of the addicted and their families.

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ADDICTION IN AMERICA IS AN EVER INCREASING NATIONAL CRISIS!

Millions of Americans have addictions. This is a national crisis. 115 people die every day from overdoses. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years.

20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction, excluding tobacco. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 115 Americans die daily from opioid-involved deaths alone. Opioids, including prescriptions and heroin, killed 42,000 people in the U.S. in 2016 – the highest on record at that time and the number is growing!

The 10 Most Common Addictions*

*Source: The Addiction Center. Use the link below to learn more:

https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/10-most-common-addictions/  

Tobacco (nicotine) – Over 40 Million

Nicotine addiction may not appear as harmful as many other addictions. This is likely because tobacco products are legal and easy to get, and the worst side effects of abusing them take time to develop. Tobacco use claims more lives than any that of any other addictive substance. Many smokers cannot quit despite knowing smoking’s impact on their health. Wanting to quit but being unable to is a telltale sign of addiction.

Alcohol – 18 Million

The social acceptance of drinking can make alcohol addiction hard to spot. Despite its legal status, alcohol’s potential for abuse opens users up to many health risks and possible addiction.

Alcohol abuse has numerous negative consequences. In addition to deaths from liver disease and alcohol overdose, drunk driving claims thousands of lives every year.

Marijuana – 4.2 Million

The legalization of marijuana in some states has made the drug’s use more socially acceptable. This trend can distract people from marijuana’s addictive potential. Rates of marijuana addiction might also be growing due to increasing potency (over 60 percent) over the past decade.

Painkillers – 1.8 Million

Drugs like codeine, Vicodin and Oxycontin are commonly prescribed to treat pain. Painkillers’ prescription status does not mean they aren’t addictive. Addiction to painkillers can develop from seemingly harmless levels of use. Most patients who become addicted to prescription painkillers don’t notice they have a problem until they try to stop use. Painkillers are also abused without a prescription, which can also lead to an addiction.

Cocaine – 821,000

Rates of cocaine addiction in the United States are dropping. The decline is slow, however, with an estimated 821,000 Americans still addicted as of 2011. Crack cocaine, which is cheaper and more intense than regular cocaine, is responsible for many crippling addictions and ruined lives.

Heroin – 426,000

Heroin’s severe withdrawal symptoms make beating a heroin addiction a difficult task. Treating heroin addiction typically requires a combination of therapy and medications to help manage symptoms of withdrawal and cravings.

Heroin abuse has been growing in the United States, particularly among young women. There is growing concern over heroin users contracting and spreading diseases like HIV and AIDS by sharing needles for injection.

Benzodiazepines – 400,000

“Benzos” — such as Valium, Xanax, Diazepam and Klonopin — are prescribed as mood-regulating drugs to manage conditions like anxiety and stress. Those developing an addiction to these drugs oftentimes aren’t aware until they can’t function normally without the substance.

Benzodiazepines are especially dangerous because of their powerful impact on the brain’s chemical makeup. Withdrawals can be deadly without medical assistance during detox.

Stimulants – 329,000

Stimulants range from prescription drugs, such as Adderall or Ritalin, to illicit substances like meth. These drugs are highly addictive, and intense withdrawal symptoms make quitting difficult. Stimulant users can quickly build a tolerance to the drug’s euphoric “high,” leading to increased use and risk of overdose.

Inhalants – 140,000

Inhalant addiction is particularly dangerous because inhalants are volatile toxic substances. The effects of these substances — gasoline, household cleaning products, aerosols — are intense and can have immediate consequences including hospitalization or death. Chemicals prevalent in inhalants can linger in the body and brain long after stopping use, making complete recovery more difficult.

Sedatives (barbiturates) – 78,000

Millions of Americans are prescribed barbiturate sedatives, commonly known as sleeping pills, to treat tension and sleep disorders. Every year, thousands of prescription users build a tolerance — and ensuing addiction — to drugs like Lunesta and Ambien. Sleeping pills can produce mind-altering effects that lead to continued abuse.

We are very aware of the growing problem, but what is the solution?

First of all, we must recognize who or what we are fighting:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Drug abuse is not just a physical addiction or a biological or chemical problem – it is a spiritual stronghold. Pharmakeia is a word found three times in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. It is the root word from which we get our English word pharmacy or pharmacist. Pharmakeia is translated as witchcraft or sorcery. It speaks of the occult magical arts which are often found in connection with idolatry. Drug and alcohol abuse like witchcraft, are powerful, demonic strongholds.

Secondly, we must know how the battle is fought:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4

To break the bondage and tear down the strongholds of addiction, we need to pray and fast for the addicted so that they will come to the end of themselves and seek God.

If you are abusing alcohol or other drugs and want to lead a victorious life and be set free from addiction you need to have a relationship with the LORD God, Creator of the heavens and the earth. To find forgiveness and freedom, pray the following prayer or a similar prayer in your own words –

“Lord Jesus Christ,

I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to earn my way to heaven. Although I deserve God’s wrath, by God’s mercy, I accept your free gift of eternal life by faith. I believe that You were born of a virgin and died on the cross to pay the price of my sins. I believe you were buried, rose again on the third day, have ascended into heaven, and will soon come again.

Lord, please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and take control of my life.” AMEN

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, then you have just made a decision by faith, to accept the free gift (God’s grace) of the substitutionary sacrifice of the Messiah (the Christ), whose suffering and death paid the price of your sins. You have been born again. As a new born, you need to be nourished.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

  • In order to grow and mature spiritually you need to:
  • Be baptized into Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ)
  • Speak to God each day through prayer. (Pray each day in the name of Yeshua/Jesus).
  • Read your Bible every day. When you read the Bible, God speaks to you through His Word. (If you don’t own a Bible, then we will help you get one.)
  • Find a Bible believing church and attend regularly – both worship services and a Bible study.
  • Share with someone what God has done for you.

 

 

Tracy’s Choices is a Must Read – How Drug Abuse Led to AIDS

Tracy chose to use alcohol and drugs early in life and ended up as a prostitute to support her habit. She dies of AIDS, but her death was not in vain                  

Tracy was the first person in the State of Illinois to be arrested, convicted, and sent to prison for the knowing attempt to transmit the AIDS virus. How could this happen? Tracy grew up in a middle-income home in Rockford, Illinois. But Tracy made choices early in her life that would have a direct effect on her life in the future. She began to use alcohol very early. In high school, she listened to peer pressure as friends introduced her to drugs. At seventeen, she quit school and took to life on the street as a prostitute in order to earn money for her growing drug habit.

Tracy was arrested by Lt. Jim Mays in a prostitution sting operation.  Lt. Mays was instrumental in Tracy’s decision to put her faith and trust in Jesus Christ. As a result, her life completely changed. However, the years of substance abuse and the complications from HIV infection were taking their toll. The Governor of Illinois later granted Tracy a full pardon so that she could come home to die. But she didn’t die, and Tracy used her last months to reach out to young people.

To watch a pre-view of the video documentation of her efforts use the link provided below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUpoCXtHJ2E&t=23s

Tracy’s Choices illustrates the point that there may be many forces at work trying to get a young person off track, but in the end, You are Responsible for You.

Tracy’s Choices Information
Max Elliot Anderson
Tracy’s Choices Blog: 

How Prayer Can Help Conquer Addiction

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

If you have been struggling to overcome the grip of addiction, it is important to remain hopeful. By combining your spiritual faith with the proper mental and emotional tools, you can go from living with addiction to thriving in a joyful, fulfilled, sober life.

One of the most important aspects to treating addiction can be rooted deep within the soul. Although we think of addiction as a physical condition, that’s only part of the story. It is not only about chemicals and biology but is also a spiritual stronghold.

Spirituality provides a sense of connection to ourselves, to other people, and to God, which can be powerful in preventing the feelings of loneliness, isolation, and negative emotions that drive addiction.

We now know that spirituality and prayer can help promote healing from addiction. This is true for people of all ages. We also know that coping skills and self soothing are learned behaviors. This means that it’s never too late to start learning healthier ways of caring for our mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.

If you (or a loved one) are coping with addiction, these spiritual practices can help you reclaim your life:

Prayer

There is so much to be said for the power of prayer. In fact, it may be able to help those in recovery avoid relapse by finding better ways of reducing stress when triggered.

If you are uncertain of what to say as you pray to God to release you from your addiction, here are a couple of ideas:

  • The Serenity Prayer. There’s a good reason why this popular prayer is so common among addiction recovery programs. It’s great for letting go of the things that are beyond our control in life. This allows us to keep a calm mind and live fully present in each moment. In fact, one study even called it “a form of wisdom that helps individuals better manage their lives through reflection and personal insights.”
  • The Prayer for Drug Addicts. Hundreds of people have found relief in this prayer to end addiction. Best of all, it is in a YouTube video format so you can follow along from anywhere in the world, including the comfort of your own home.

Patience and Faith

Above all else, be gentle with yourself as you make these big life changes. When it comes to retraining your brain so you can break free from deeply ingrained behavior patterns, some days will be easier than others. Your faith will help you get through the tough days.

Whether you are having a good day or a bad day, be patient with yourself. In the words of Paul Coehlo, “Patience is not about waiting but how we act when things take longer than we expect.” Maintaining your spiritual faith in God throughout your journey will help you maintain patience with yourself so you can stay on track to sobriety.

Jill Palmer, Mental Wellness Center

Heroin is not only Illegal but Highly Addictive and Dangerous

Heroin is a highly addictive narcotic derived from morphine. Heroin’s medicinal use and sale are prohibited in the United States and other countries.

Heroin, like all illegal drugs, is obtained from criminals who import it from other criminals who obtain it from the following sources:

  • An estimated 90 percent of the world’s opium production occurs in Afghanistan;
  • Although Mexico and Colombia opium production accounts for less than four percent of the world’s total production, they supply most of the heroin to the United States;
  • Mexican growers and refiners supply an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the U.S. heroin market, primarily to dealers west of the Mississippi River;
  • Colombia supplies heroin to dealers in most of the remainder of the states east of the Mississippi.

Heroin is included in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Like other opium alkaloids, it can produce analgesia (the inability to feel pain), respiratory depression, gastrointestinal spasm, and physical dependence. It produces its major effects on the central nervous system and bowels and alters the endocrine and autonomic nervous systems. Heroin is more powerful than morphine and acts more rapidly.

Once heroin gets into the bloodstream it is carried to the brain and crosses the blood-brain barrier (a barrier that selectively determines what chemicals are allowed to reach the brain). Once across the blood-brain barrier, heroin, which becomes morphine in the liver, activates the endorphin receptors to release more endorphins. The increased endorphins, the body’s natural pain medicine, creates a feeling of comfort and well-being and for many—a sense of euphoria.

Repeated use of heroin produces tolerance to most of the acute opioid effects; physical dependence develops concurrently with tolerance. Withdrawal from heroin after relatively few exposures commonly produces acute abstinence syndrome. Withdrawal signs are usually observed shortly before the next planned dose and commonly include anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and craving for another dose. Other withdrawal signs that may appear 8 to 15 hours after the last dose include crying, perspiration, yawning, and restless sleep. On awakening from such sleep the severely addicted heroin user may experience withdrawal signs, such as vomiting, pain in the bones, diarrhea, convulsions, and cardiovascular collapse. Withdrawal signs usually peak at between 36 and 48 hours and gradually subside during the following 10 days.

When it is refined, commercial heroin is usually a white powder with a bitter taste. Pure heroin is rarely sold on the streets. Most heroin that is sold on the street is a powder varying in color from white to dark brown. The differences in color primarily relate to the presence of additives that “cut” or dilute the purity of the heroin. Some heroin, particularly heroin from Mexico, actually looks more like tar and is called “black tar” heroin.

The most common methods of heroin use are:

  • Intravenous injection which gets the drug directly into the bloodstream, causing the effects to be felt in under a minute.
  • Intramuscular injections (a syringe which injects the heroin in a muscle) which delays the reaction to between five to eight minutes.
  • Snorting or smoking which delays the reaction to between 10 to 20 minutes.

In the 1960’s to the early 80’s the heroin sold on the streets was less than 10% pure. By the end of the 1990”s, the purity of heroin had dramatically increased to over 60% pure. Among other names, heroin is called “H,” “horse,” “smack,” “skag,” and “junk.”

According to the Washington Post, U.S. statistics for the year 2015 reveal that for the first time since at least the late 1990s, there were more deaths due to heroin than to traditional opioid painkillers, like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

The article goes on to say that more people died from heroin-related causes than from gun homicides in 2015. As recently as 2007, gun homicides outnumbered heroin deaths by more than 5 to 1.

Much of the current opioid predicament stems from the explosion of prescription painkiller use in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Widespread painkiller use led to many Americans developing dependencies on the drugs. When various authorities at the state and federal levels began issuing tighter restrictions on painkillers in the late 2000s, much of that demand shifted over to the illicit market, feeding the heroin boom of the past several years.

As reported in Forbes, in 2010, the prescription opiate, oxycodone, was the primary drug implicated in overdose deaths in the U.S. But now, based on data from a new report from the Center for Disease Control, heroin is the leading cause of overdose deaths.

The new study employed a new method to search for specific drugs implicated the overdose deaths, including words such as “drug” and “overdose” as search terms.

The results are striking: Overdose deaths from heroin jumped from 3,000 in 2010 to 10,000 in 2014. Meanwhile, deaths from oxycodone remained steady at 5,000, unchanged from 2010.

Breitbart News reported that the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers show that there were nearly13,000 deaths related to heroin overdose in 2015. Heroin deaths surpassed firearm-related homicides for the first time ever in 2015.

There is an alarming new trend among heroin users.

They’re mixing the drug with the synthetic opiate fentanyl — an anesthetic which the most potent narcotic in clinical use today. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin and 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Street names for fentanyl or for fentanyl-laced heroin include Apache, China White, Dance Fever, Murder 8, TNT, and Tango and Cash.

“The big thing with heroin users now is finding heroin laced with fentanyl,” explains Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Spokesperson Matthew Barden to the Business Insider. “Fentanyl to the touch in its pure form will kill you by touching it.”

Barden recalls an addict who used heroin laced with fentanyl explaining his decision:

The junkie said, “Hey, ya know what? We all know that it could very well kill us, but that is exactly what we are looking for. To get as close to the line as we can possibly get,” Barden said.

With other street names such as Drop Dead, Flatline, and Lethal Injection, fentanyl-laced heroin and cocaine are marketed by drug dealers as the “ultimate high.”

Tragically when heroin is mixed or cut with fentanyl by drug dealers, “the ultimate high” is the high potential for the lethal combo to elicit immediate respiratory failure in users.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; John 10:10a

I am a retired Health and Physical Educator who had worked for New York City’s Board of Education for over thirty two years. The last twenty five of those years were in a violent inner city school in a drug infested neighborhood.

What I noted was that Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign was a failure.

Teaching the harmful effects of substance abuse often made the students more curious. Knowing that something is dangerous is often lost on teenagers who think they are indestructible.

It has been decades now that the public has been made aware of the harmful and often fatal dangers of smoking cigarettes. Has that information resulted in a smoke-free America? Although tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, still 15% of the adult population still smokes.

People who are hurting often seek to self medicate with alcohol, drugs, pornography or other addictive behaviors. Others get hooked on their medications. Many people use pharmaceutical drugs in spite of a litany of harmful side effects. Others turn to street drugs because of past abuse, rejection or hopelessness in spite of knowing the danger.

Knowing that something is harmful doesn’t empower a person to refrain from using and abusing harmful substances.

“Just Pray NO!” is a ministry that understands that people need to be changed from the inside out. We understand the life changing power of the written word of God (the Bible), prayer offered up to our divine Creator, the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the authority in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Jesus proclaimed in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

The Son of God was empowered by the Spirit of Yehovah to heal the brokenhearted and proclaim liberty to the captives and the oppressed. The word translated from the Greek word, aichmalótos (aheekh-mal-o-tos’) as captives, literally means “taken by the spear” and understood to mean “prison of war.” The word translated as “oppressed” in English comes from the Greek word, thrauó ((throw’-o) and means “I crush, break, shatter.”

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; John 10:10b

The “bad news” is that Satan is in a spiritual war against humanity. The Adversary has used heroin and other powerful drugs to shatter lives and imprison souls.

It is so very vital that we understand that there is an unseen spiritual battle that has been taking place throughout the course of human history since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Our fight is not against human beings, but against the devil and his hierarchy of evil spirits. Satan is the god of this dark world who has blinded the minds of the unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is the prince of the power of the air who now works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). We cannot fight this battle in our own strength but must be strong in the Lord and his mighty power.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10b

The “good news” is that Messiah Jesus came not only to heal, deliver and set free sinful mankind, but give us an abundant life. That abundant life is not only for our time here on earth but for eternity!

If you are abusing heroin or other drugs and want to lead a victorious life and be set free from addiction you need to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

Becoming a Christian is not based on feelings but on the truth of God’s Holy Word. Neither does going to church make you a Christian. Being born-again and forgiven of your sins is based on your placing your trust on Christ’s finished work on the cross. Accepting His substitutionary sacrifice on your behalf is what restores you back to right relationship with God. If you are truly saved, you will have the power of the Holy Spirit within you to change and yes, you will start to feel and act differently. You will know a peace that passes understanding and the joy of the LORD.

Romans 10:9-10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 

 If you have never placed your trust in Jesus, pray this following prayer or a similar prayer today:

“Lord Jesus Christ,

I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to earn my way to heaven. Although I deserve God’s wrath, by God’s mercy, I accept your free gift of eternal life by faith. I believe that You were born of a virgin and died on the cross to pay the price of my sins. I believe you were buried, rose again on the third day, have ascended into heaven, and will soon come again.

Lord, please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and take control of my life.” AMEN

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, then you have just made a decision by faith to accept the free gift (God’s grace) of the substitutionary sacrifice of the Messiah (the Christ), whose suffering and death paid the price of your sins. You have been born again. Let us know because we want to rejoice with you.

Following Christ’s Example: Forgiving Ourselves during Addiction Recovery

Perhaps the greatest example of forgiveness in the Bible was provided by Jesus Christ himself. Jesus’ forgiveness of Judas has given rise to much debate as to why the Messiah kept the traitor ‘in the fold’, even though he knew what lay ahead. Jesus first noticed that Judas had changed when his disciple grew distant, and soon after, he foresaw that Judas would ‘hand him over’ to those who would end his life on earth. Yet He kept Judas by his side as a sign of his love for Man, despite all his flaws. Jesus had already forgiven Judas, who was unable to forgive himself; Judas did away with his life, unable to come to terms with having hurt the Son of God.

Those who are in recovery from an addiction to substances or alcohol can probably relate with the strong feelings of guilt experienced by Judas. When one is under the throes of addiction, one can burn many bridges and hurt those who most love us. Hurt can be caused by lying about the extent of our problem, perhaps taking from others to feed our addiction, or letting people down in important moments in their lives. When we commence our journey towards recovery, one of the hardest obstacles to face lies in stopping ourselves from indulging in self-blame, judgment, and criticism.

Guilt can be useful; it reminds us that we should act responsibly since no man is an island; we are all interconnected and everything we do can either help or hinder those we love. However, when guilt turns into shame, nothing productive can result and we can either distance ourselves from those we should be approaching, indulge in self-destructive behavior (for instance, by relapsing into drug use) or become overwhelmed by our problems and lose the ability to think clearly and problem-solve.

We should look to Christ himself to understand the extent to which he was capable of loving even the most flawed of men and try to give ourselves a little of this love. With a kind and self-compassionate heart, our road towards recovery becomes easier and we have faith that God will help us rebuild vital relationships with friends and family. In a positive frame of mind, we logically feel more motivated to take part in activities that will enhance our quality of life and indeed enable us to live longer in a happier state. These activities can include taking part in physical activity, learning natural ways to control our anxiety and stress, and cooking healthy, seasonal foods to feed the temple that is our body.

As postulated in Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.…”

The best way to start forgiving yourself, is by focusing on how you make others’ lives better. Ask yourself what your family members, for instance, need to be happy. Do you have a sibling who would benefit greatly from talking to you about their problems? Does your parents’ lawn need mowing? Are there any chores you can help a friend out with today that will lighten their burden? Focusing on making others happy has two main benefits – firstly, it keeps your mind on the task at hand and gives you an important focus for the day. Secondly, it helps you strengthen ties which may have been broken by your addiction. There is a third, less obvious benefit, however; by helping others, you help yourself build a sense of self-worth. By letting others rely on you, you begin to understand the extent to which you are important to their lives.

Once you have set the ball rolling with respect to family members, head for a quiet, relaxing spot (such as a park or other natural area) and ask yourself what would make you happy. You might decide to start a hobby you have always wanted to do, or take up a sport you always excelled at. Whichever means you choose to be kind to yourself, make sure it is a source of joy and don’t place expectations which are too high on yourself. Jesus embraced the poor, needy and flawed; do you think you can spare a bit of this kind of compassionate love for yourself?

This article was submitted by Helen Rhodes, Freelance Writer

Addiction vs Habit: Recognizing the Dangers — Infographic

The words “habit” and “addiction” are frequently interchanged, but there is one significant difference between the two. Habits can be negative or positive, while addictions are only negative. The trick to identifying, which is which often lies in the amount of time and effort it takes to break one.

Addiction_vs_Habit

Submitted by Megan Ray Nichols, Science Writer

Synthetic Marijuana like K2, Spice and Fake Weed can Kill

K2, Spice and Fake Weed unlike natural marijuana, can cause a huge variety of symptoms, which can be severe and even deadly.

In recent years, one of the most commonly abused drugs – synthetic cannabinoids, has caused such an alarm that all 50 states have banned “synthetic marijuana.”

The federal government has classified some of the chemicals used to produce synthetic cannabinoids as schedule 1 substances, making it illegal to buy, sell, or possess anything containing those chemicals.

In response, manufacturers and vendors package the drugs as incenses or aromatherapy products, often alongside labels that claim the drugs aren’t for human consumption. The clever packaging lets sellers skirt laws and the oversight that would otherwise prohibit sales.

Legal loopholes make synthetic marijuana as easy to get as buying a candy bar, according to US Sen. Charles Schumer who urged the federal government. According to Schumer, the US has banned only 20 of the 300 chemical substances used in synthetic drugs, leaving drug makers several steps ahead in what he called a game of “whack-a-mole.”

Synthetic drug use is on an upswing, and that is largely because synthetic drug makers are skirting around restrictions that have been put in place by developing new, dangerous chemical compounds that are not yet regulated,” Schumer said. “As a result, more and more kids are ending up in the emergency room, and it is time for federal law to catch up.”

Synthetic marijuana or synthetic cannabis such as K2, Spice and Fake Weed unlike pot, however, can cause a huge variety of symptoms, which can be severe. These symptoms include: agitation, vomiting, hallucination, paranoia, tremor, seizure, tachycardia, hypokalemia (a life-threatening deficiency of potassium in the bloodstream), chest pain, cardiac problems, stroke, kidney damage, acute psychosis, brain damage, and death.

A major issue with synthetic marijuana is its potency. “Its potency can be up to one hundred or more times greater than THC – that’s how much drug it takes to produce an effect,” says Paul Prather, PhD, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “So it takes much less of them to produce maximal effects in the brain. So these things have higher efficacy and potency…These things are clearly very different from THC and thus not surprising that their use may result in development of life-threatening adverse effects.”

Unlike heroin and cocaine, synthetic cannabis not made using just one chemical. Synthetic marijuana can be made with nearly 100 different chemicals that are often sprayed onto dried, shredded plant material. While different chemicals are used, the compounds have similar traits. All of them are active at the CB1 receptor in the brain. Cannabinoid receptors, located in the brain, are part of the Endocannabinoid system which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. This is the same receptor activated by consuming marijuana which is why this class of drugs is commonly called “synthetic cannabinoids.”

Yasmin Hurd, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, and Neuroscience at Mount Sinai Medical Center, says that the wide distribution of CB1 receptors in the brain is exactly why they’re so toxic. “Where they’re located is important – their presence in the hippocampus would be behind their memory effects; their presence in seizure initiation areas in the temporal cortex is why they lead to seizures. And in the prefrontal cortex, this is probably why you see stronger psychosis with synthetic cannabinoids.” The cardiac, respiratory, and gastrointestinal effects probably come from the CB1 receptors in the brain stem. It might be any one of these that produces the greatest risk of death.

A synthetic cannabis overdose looks totally different from a pot “overdose.” Clinically, they just don’t look like people who smoke marijuana,” says Lewis Nelson, MD, at NYU’s Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Medical Toxicology. “Pot users are usually interactive, mellow, funny. Everyone once in a while we see a bad trip with natural marijuana. But it goes away quickly. With people using synthetic, they look like people who are using amphetamines: they’re angry, sweaty, agitated.”

When we consider the vast number and types of substances that are being abused and the devastation that they cause to the abuser, their family and our communities, we can be overwhelmed and look at “The War on Drugs” as a losing battle. But if we look to our Lord and Savior, we can find strength, resolve and confidence that there is hope for deliverance and freedom from the bondage of addiction.

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17

The same omnipotent God that made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them can empower those who are powerless against their addiction to be set free if they are willing to surrender their lives to Him.

Alcoholism and other drug addictions are spiritual bondages that result in physical and mental illnesses and can lead to death.

First of all, we must recognize who or what we are fighting:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Drug abuse is not just a physical addiction or a biological or chemical problem – it is a spiritual stronghold. Pharmakeia is a word found three times in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. It is the root word from which we get our English word pharmacy or pharmacist. Pharmakeia is translated as witchcraft or sorcery. It speaks of the occult magical arts which are often found in connection with idolatry. Drug and alcohol abuse like witchcraft, are powerful, demonic strongholds.

Secondly, we must know how the battle is fought:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4

To break the bondage and tear down the strongholds of addiction, we who have placed our trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross need to pray for the addicted so that they will come to the end of themselves and seek God for deliverance and forgiveness of their sins.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:13-16

Our prayers of faith can be further empowered through fasting:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6

After Jesus was baptized by John, he left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where for forty days he fasted and was tempted by the devil. When the devil had finished all this tempting, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:16-19

As followers of Christ, God has authorized and empowered us to participate in the ministry of His beloved Son. We too are to proclaim the good news of the gospel, and in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, set free those who are slaves to addiction.

If you are abusing alcohol or other drugs and want to lead a victorious life and be set free from addiction you need to have a relationship with the LORD God, Creator of the heavens and the earth. To find forgiveness and freedom, pray the following prayer or a similar prayer in your own words –

“Lord Jesus Christ,

I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to earn my way to heaven. Although I deserve God’s wrath, by God’s mercy, I accept your free gift of eternal life by faith. I believe that You were born of a virgin and died on the cross to pay the price of my sins. I believe you were buried, rose again on the third day, have ascended into heaven, and will soon come again.

Lord, please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and take control of my life.” AMEN

The Fifteen Most Commonly Abused Drugs According to the NIH

According to the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health, and one of the world’s foremost medical research centers, the following are the 15 most commonly abused drugs:

  • Alcohol – Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. It is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream.
  • Club Drugs – Club drugs tend to be used by teenagers and young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts, and parties. Club drugs include ketamine (A dissociative drug used as an anesthetic in veterinary practice. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality), MDMA (Ecstasy), Methamphetamine, and LSD (Acid).
  • Cocaine – Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. It produces short-term euphoria, energy, and talkativeness in addition to potentially dangerous physical effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Hallucinogens – Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs that alter perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions), thoughts, and feelings. They cause hallucinations, or sensations and images that seem real though they are not.
  • Heroin – Heroin is an opioid drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant.
  • Inhalants – Many products readily found in the home or workplace—such as spray paints, markers, glues, and cleaning fluids—contain volatile substances that have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties when inhaled.
  • Marijuana – Marijuana is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. In a more concentrated, resinous form, it is called hashish, and as a sticky black liquid, hash oil. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
  • MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) – MDMA) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.
  • Methamphetamine – Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that is similar in structure to amphetamine. Due to its high potential for abuse, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled.
  • Opioids – Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin as well as powerful pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and many others. These drugs are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain.
  • Prescription Drugs & Cold Medicines – Some medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties and, because of that, are sometimes abused—that is, taken for reasons or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana (and alcohol), the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older.
  • Steroids (Anabolic) – “Anabolic steroids” is the familiar name for synthetic variants of the male sex hormone testosterone. The proper term for these compounds is anabolic-androgenic steroids (abbreviated AAS)—“anabolic” referring to muscle-building and “androgenic” referring to increased male sexual characteristics.
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) – Synthetic cannabinoids refer to a growing number of man-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked (herbal incense) or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices (liquid incense).
  • Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts) – Synthetic cathinones, more commonly known as “bath salts,” are synthetic (human-made) drugs chemically related to cathinone, a stimulant found in the khat plant.
  • Tobacco/Nicotine – Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths—and an additional 16 million people suffer with a serious illness caused by smoking. In fact, for every one person who dies from smoking, about 30 more suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness.

Abuse of any of these fifteen categories of drugs can result in serious physical, emotional, and psychological illness or death. Alcoholism and other drug addictions are spiritual bondage and must be fought with spiritual weapons.

If you are abusing alcohol or other drugs and want to lead a victorious life and be set free from addiction you need to have a relationship with the LORD God, Creator of the heavens and the earth. To find forgiveness and freedom, pray the following prayer or a similar prayer in your own words –

“Lord Jesus Christ,

I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to earn my way to heaven. Although I deserve God’s wrath, by God’s mercy, I accept your free gift of eternal life by faith. I believe that You were born of a virgin and died on the cross to pay the price of my sins. I believe you were buried, rose again on the third day, have ascended into heaven, and will soon come again.

Lord, please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and take control of my life.” AMEN

Drugs and God – How Can a Christian Help an Addict?

Drug abuse and the problem of mind-altering practices have been a problem since Biblical times. The practice of witchcraft – against which the Bible is most emphatically opposed – frequently involved the use of altered states of consciousness (often obtained through drug use). Drug abuse is not merely a physical problem, but a spiritual one as well. As such, Christians should feel a certain duty to help those afflicted. Not only this, but the Bible also condemns the kind of behavior which often results from substance abuse. For example, believers are exhorted to obey the laws of the land, to live a life ‘beyond reproach’, to live selflessly, and treat their neighbors with kindness and forgiveness no matter the sin. They are also taught to respect their lives and earthly bodies, and the Pauline letters condemn excessive drunkenness and alcoholism. Taken all together and viewed through the lens of drug use, these strictures indicate that we should not only try to avoid the pitfall of drug abuse ourselves, but should also treat those who have stumbled in this manner with the kindness and love which runs as a constant thread throughout the teachings of Christ. But how?

‘Rescuing’ someone with a drug problem is nearly impossible. True change has to come from within, it cannot be instilled from without. When turning to Jesus, one must do more than simply attend church and recite Scripture by rote. One must willingly open one’s heart and love Jesus from within. The same principle applies to those with substance abuse problems. They must want to be healed in order to be healed. It is thus frustrating for many who wish to help substance abusers, as those who are on a self-destruct cycle will continually thwart efforts to improve their situation. So what can you do?

Firstly, get rid of the idea that you can proactively ‘rescue’ a drug abuser. For more on why this will not work, try reading this article. Instead, let the sufferer know that they are valued, that they will be forgiven, and that a loving support network is waiting for them should they decide to get clean. Simply being there, offering unconditional forgiveness and believing in their power to improve their lives can encourage many a suffering substance abuser to take steps to address their issues. Prayer can be a major help in this case – not only to help the afflicted individual, but to give you the strength to cope in what can often be a trying situation. Finally, have faith!

By Laura Chapman