Is Drug Abuse A Moral Issue?

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The Columbus Dispatch began a new series several weeks ago called Guide to Life.  This series is available online at  In an article for the series, Allison Ward wrote about how to keep kids off of drugs.  The article was informative.  However, a quotation appeared in it from Dr. Steven Matson, a physician at Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Matson said, “Parents need to remember that it is a treatable disease–and No. 1, that it is a disease.”  “It’s not a mental or moral failure.”  He was speaking about drug abuse.
Is drug abuse a moral issue?  Please consider the following facts.
First, 36% of 12th graders smoked marijuana according to the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse).  Marijuana is an illegal drug.  Breaking the law is a moral issue.Second, 15% used prescription drugs illegally.  Again, breaking the law is a moral issue.
Third, more than 25% had gotten drunk (alcohol is a drug) within the past month.  Drunkenness is a sin (Gal. 5:19-21).  This is a moral issue.
Fourth, 5,000 people younger than 21 die each year of injuries related to underage drinking (underage means it was illegal for them to drink).  This is a moral issue and a social issue.  Under the influence of drugs (alcohol included), individuals lose their power of restraint and control.  Temperance is a virtue (II Peter 1:6).  Is intemperance a virtue too?  This is a moral issue.
Fifth, the age of trial for use is now as early as 10 or 11.  Our young people are struggling with drug abuse and its consequences at an earlier and earlier age.  An eleven- year-old is not equipped to handle the harm to self, to society and to the spiritual aspects of his/her life.  The age of innocency is corrupted by drug abuse.  This is a moral issue.
Sixth, yielding to the lusts of the flesh is a moral issue.  “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:5-6).  The works of the flesh are named by Paul in Gal. 5:19-21.  Paul stated, “…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
For all of the reasons given above, we must affirm that drug abuse is a moral issue.  All of the statistics given above are from the article by Allison Ward!
A strong faith in moral integrity is a deterrent to drug abuse.  The teaching of God’s Word noted above helps to inform and train the conscience against sinful conduct.  Young people need exposure to the truth in order to internalize its principles by faith and love for God.  Love for God is a deterrent to drug abuse.  Love for God manifests itself in a desire to please God and live for Him.  Self-denial is an important aspect of self-control.  Self-control is a virtue.  Godly character is a deterrent to drug abuse.  To say that drug abuse is not a moral issue is to destroy many of the effective, internal, aspects of deterrence.


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Detour is the latest book from the pen of Marilyn Lancelot. It is a sequel to her previous book, Gripped by Gambling which she wrote five years ago. I reviewed that book on my blog and I have reviewed her latest book too. Detour is Marilyn’s story about her struggle with several different addictions inclulding alcoholism and gambling. She relates personal information that helps the reader connect with her and she gives many insights into addictive behavior. This is a story of struggle and triumph. It is a story of despair and hope. It is a story of human weakness and strength. I have uploaded my review under the Book Review page on this blog. I hope you will read the review and then buy the book.

What’s The Problem?

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A recent letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch touched on a word missing from our every day vocabulary.  Can you guess what it is?  The title of the letter was, “‘Sin’ disappeared from lexicon long ago.”  The letter pointed out that the high priests of journalism have “outlawed” the word “sin” from the common vernacular.  This prompts the question, “why?”
I would like to offer two reasons.   One reason lies in the psychological coping mechanism we call “denial.”  Denial is a psychological defense where we will not face reality, instead, we deny reality so that we will not have to deal with it or the pain that it brings.  Another reason is redefinition of truth.  When we define truth subjectively rather than objectively, everything is permissible.  The ideology called postmodernism does this.  If everything is permissible, then sin vanishes.
The Problem.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”  Rom. 3:23.  And, “the wages of sin is death…” Rom. 6:23.  Sin is a universal experience of mankind.  The consequences are serious both now and for eternity.  While some may deny the reality of sin, and others have redefined truth to make it disappear, the reality of sin keeps confronting us.  One way to force a realization of this is to look at the numbers. The price we pay for sin is enormous. Consider the following:
Internet Gambling.  The estimated social cost of internet gambling is 25 billion dollars per year. (Does God Exist, Jan./Feb. 2013, p. 27).
Alcoholism.  The cost of alcoholism to the American taxpayer is 43 billion dollars per year.  (Does God Exist, Jan./Feb. 2013, p. 29).
50% of all fatal accidents involve alcohol.
80% of all fire deaths.
65% of all drowning deaths.
40% of all assaults.
77% of falls.
55% of arrests.
Unwanted Pregnancies.  The annual cost to the American taxpayer of unwanted pregnancies is $11 billion dollars.  (Guttmacher Institute, Huffington, 5/24/2011).  Two-thirds of unintended pregnancies–a million births-are publicly funded by Medicaid and other government programs.
Addicted gamblers.  The costs associated with addicted gamblers in the U.S. is between 32.4 billion and 53.8 billion dollars a year.  This amounts to about $274 per adult annually.  Gambling in America, Baylor University professor Earl Grinols from, July 22, 2011).
Drug Abuse.  Substance abuse and addiction breaks down as follows:
Illegal drugs–118 billion a year.
Alcohol:  185 billion a year.
Tobacco:   193 billion a year.
Totals:   559 billion a year  (  National Institute on Drug Abuse, 4/9/2013.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases.  Sexually transmitted diseases for Ages 15-24 costs $6.5 billion a year in 2000 dollars.  Among all age groups the cost go up to between $9.3 billion to $15.5 billion (includes HIV). Guttmacher Institute (Jan./Feb. 2004, vol. 36, no. 1).
Crime.  The annual cost of crime in the U.S. is $1.7 trillion dollars.  David A. Anderson, “The Aggregate Burden of Crime.”  This amounts to $4,118.00 per person in the U.S.  (David Anderson is professor of economics at Davidson College, North of Charlotte, North Carolina).
Divorce.  Family fragmentation costs:  $112 billion a year.  Benjamin Scafidi, J. Whitney Bunting School of Business at Georgia College and State University.  Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia.  “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing” c. 2008
Pornography.  The financial costs to businesses productivity in the U.S. alone is estimated at $16.9 billion annually.  The human toll is far greater. “Internet Pornography by the numbers; a significant threat to society.”  Consider some stats:
Every second 28,258 users are watching pornography on the internet.
Every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography on the internet.
40 million people in America regularly visit porn sites.
35% of all internet downloads are related to pornography.
One-third of porn viewers are women.
2.5 billion emails sent or received every day contain porn.
Abortion.  The normal cost of a first-trimester abortion runs between $350 to $550.  Guttmacher Institute  “In 2009, the median charge for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks gestation was $470.  The median cost of  a medication abortion was $490.  In 2008, 20% of all abortions were covered by Medicaid (State funded).  In 2008, there were about 1.2 million abortions performed in the U.S.  Total costs:  $112 million dollars.
The total costs exceed 2 trillion, 35 billion dollars!  And, these are just the financial costs.  May we add the emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual costs?
How can we deny the reality of sin when it is costing so much?  Why not let God define sin?  Sin is a transgression of the law of God (I John 3:4).
The Solution.
The first step is to face reality.  We must admit to ourselves and to God, “I am a sinner.”  This confession will produce guilt and shame if prompted by godly sorrow and move us to repent and turn to God.
The second step is to pursue the pathway of redemption and righteousness.  We must say, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”  We must seek forgiveness from God who is the only source that has the power to remit sins.  We must yield to God’s Will for our lives.  We must repent.  Repentance involves a turning away from sin.  It involves a cessation of the practice of sin.  We must be baptized to “wash away our sins” (Acts 22:16; Acts 2:38).  And, we must pursue righteousness.  The way of righteousness is the strait and narrow way that leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14).  The problem is sin.   The solution is “Christ in you and you in Christ.”

Compulsive Sexuality

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     Patrick Carnes wrote, Out of the Shadows, a book designed to help identify and overcome sexual addiction.  In this book, he gives the signs of compulsive sexuality which can be a helpful guide to diagnosing sexual addiction.  The formula he gives is called SAFE. 
     1. It is a secret.  Anything that cannot pass public scrutiny will create the shame of a double life.
     2. It is abusive.  It is abusive to self or others.  Anything that is exploitive or harmful to others or degrades oneself will activate the addictive system.
     3. It is used to avoid or is a source of painful feelings.  If sexuality is used to altar moods or results in painful mood shifts, it is clearly part of the addictive process.
    4. It is empty of a caring, committed relationship.  Fundamental to the whole concept of addiction and recovery is the healthy dimension of human relationships.  The addict runs a great risk by being sexual outside of a committed relationship.
     Perhaps you can use the SAFE formula to help determine the danger of addiction in your life or the lives of others.  (taken from Out of the Shadows, p. 189).

Gripped By Gambling

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     After several weeks, I am fulfilling a commitment to Marilyn Lancelot to publish a review of her book titled, Gripped By Gambling.  This book relates Marilyn’s personal journey with the experience of an addiction to gambling.  It was written by a woman for women (but men will benefit too).  She reveals the unbelievable costs associated with a gambling addiction.  She relates her feelings and emotions as she gets caught up in the excitement of gambling and then the destruction it brought to her life.  Many share her plight.  Many will relate.  We live in a culture of addiction.  Marilyn has been addicted to alcohol, food, drugs, and gambling.  She has broken free from these addictions and offers help and hope in her book.  The book does not focus primarily on her spiritual journey, though her belief in God was an important aspect of her recovery.  I would like to point each of you to the only true remedy for sin–the grace of God manifested through the cross of Jesus Christ.  Love, faith and obedience to God’s Will will secure true freedom from sin (John 3:36; 8:32; 14:15). You can read my review by going to the Book Review page on this site.

A Culture of Addiction

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      Patrick Carnes in his book Don’t Call it Love identifies our present culture as a culture of addiction.  He states, “We live in a culture in which there are many addicts. Start with gambling, sex, food, and chemicals, take into account that many addicts have more than one addiction, then include all those affected by addicts, such as the 28 million adult children of alcoholics.  A recent estimate of all the addicts in our culture places addicts and those affected by addiction at over 131 million people.  When over half the population is involved with addiction, addictive norms become central to the cultural experience” (p. 77).
     Carnes identifies ten key components of our society that allow addictions to thrive.  They are:
     -Ours is a convenience-oriented society dedicated to removing obstacles to satisfaction.  Driven by the convenience ethic, the addict simply extends quick-fix logic to reducing anxiety.
     -Our culture emphasizes sophisticated technology and assumes that technology can resolve all problems.  The addict is looking for easy solutions that will “fix” his problems.
     -Our culture seeks entertainment and escapism rather than searching for meaning. The result is lack of meaning and essential purpose for life.
     -Our culture is experiencing massive paradigm shifts, which means that our view of the world is constantly changing.  This results in values confusion.
     -Our culture reels from disrupted family life.  Marriages are failing at very high rates.  Homes are disintegrating. The result is feelings of abandonment.
     -Our culture is experiencing loss of community.  The average American family moves every three years. Social networks are not built resulting in isolation a precondition of child abuse, battering and addiction.
     -Our culture is high stress.People live overextended, over-committed lives. The result is chronic anxiety.
     -Our culture is exploitive of others. The result is distrust and distrust feeds addiction.
     -Our culture essentially denies limitations.   Mental health and addiction problems thrive when there are no limits.  
Our culture is comprised of many addicts.  The result is addictive norms become central to the culture.    (Carnes, pp. 75-77).
     When you read this list, cold chills should go up and down your spine!  Have we moved so far away from God and true religion that we are destroying ourselves through addictive behaviors?  Gambling, alcoholic beverages, sexual addictions, unlawful drug abuse –all of which are sinful behaviors– have become the norm in American culture!  
     We need a renewal of faith in and commitment to God!