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