Prime Defense Against Drug Abuse
A YOUNG musician in Canada was found in bad condition by the police. He told them he had decided to try LSD because he no longer got “kicks” from marijuana. The result was a “bad trip” during which he shoved his fingers deep into his eye sockets because he “didn’t want to see what he was seeing.” He severely damaged both eyes, and doctors feared he would lose the sight of one of them.
Accounts like these are not uncommon in news reports. Doctors, lawmakers and even most users of drugs admit that the heavy “psychedelic” drugs such as LSD and heroin as well as the “up” and “down” pills, amphetamines and barbiturates, are dangerous. Heroin and the barbiturates, particularly, are addictive. Few addicted to heroin are ever cured.
On the other hand, marijuana users, who include many youths of college and high-school age, present arguments to support their use of the “weed.” They call it a “social intensifier.”
One college student said that with marijuana “the mind is magnificently delighted by very simple situations or memoirs.” Some went farther by expressing a deeper purpose in their smoking, saying: Drugs “are our only means of feeling love in this debacle of self-destruction.” It is a “return to Eden,” and drugs are “instant paradise,” or “instant analysis of oneself.”
SOME FACTS AS TO MARIJUANA’S EFFECTS
Two questions are most frequently asked: Are users of marijuana likely to go to stronger drugs? Is marijuana itself dangerous?
Because the truth about marijuana has been shrouded in a “mist” of ignorance, and noting its epidemic spread, governments are establishing drug research commissions. In addition, research is carried on independently by a large number of scientists. What have they found? Does marijuana smoking lead to the use of heavier drugs?
A folder published by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare reports that “users of one illicit drug may be exposed to a variety of them through contacts with drug sellers and other users.” And under the heading “Latest Findings on Marijuana,” the U.S. News & World Report of February 1, 1971, states that “there is evidence that people who have come to lean on the drug for psychological reasons—in the belief it will relieve tension and depression—are likely to go on to stronger drugs.”
The physical dangers of the heavy drugs are well attested. As to marijuana, “sufficiently high doses . . . can cause unpredictable, acute—although temporary—psychotic episodes manifesting themselves in the form of illusions, hallucinations, paranoia, depression and panic,” says a report from the New York State Temporary Commission to Evaluate the Drug Laws. “In addition, preliminary research indicates that continued regular use of marijuana or extremely high dosages may cause liver damage, genetic defects, brain damage and upper respiratory ailment.” What sensible person would deliberately expose himself and his posterity to misery and a shortened life from these diseases?
THE BIBLE VIEWPOINT
Does the Bible say anything relative to the subject of drugs? Does it give us help to resist use of them? Can we, with the Bible’s help, strengthen our children to resist?
Drugs were known in the ancient days of Bible writing. For what, especially, were they known? For their connection with sorcery, witchcraft, spiritism. But drugs did not bring their users into ‘communion with God,’ as some modern drug advocates claim. At Galatians 5:20, spiritism is classed, not as a fruit of God’s spirit, but as one of the “works of the flesh” that will prevent one from entering God’s kingdom. Here the Greek word used for “practice of spiritism” or “sorcery” is phar·ma·kiʹa, literally, “druggery.”
On this word, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words comments: “PHARMAKIA . . . primarily signified the use of medicine, drugs, spells; then, poisoning; then, sorcery, . . . See also Rev. 9:21; 18:23. . . . In sorcery, the use of drugs, whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers, with the provision of various charms, amulets, etc., professedly designed to keep the applicant or patient from the attention and power of demons, but actually to impress the applicant with the mysterious resources and powers of the sorcerer.”
If one is led into the practice of spiritism he is open to all sorts of wrong practices that can bring demon influence and insanity, and will surely result in his everlasting death. God says: “But as for . . . those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism [Greek, phar·ma·koisʹ, “druggers”] . . . their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.”—Rev. 21:8, Kingdom Interlinear Translation.
HASHISH, THE DRUG OF ASSASSINS
Marijuana is a product of the cannabis plant, a hemp, from which hashish is also made. This drug is similar to marijuana and is frequently used by marijuana smokers.
The origin of the word “assassin” testifies to the power of hashish to incite to acts of violence. “Assassin” is drawn from the Arabic word hashshashin, used to describe the Order of Assassins, a Moslem order founded in Persia about 1090 C.E. At the time of the crusades these men terrorized the Christians and other enemies by secret murder, religious assassinations, committed under the influence of hashish.
DRUGS BRING USERS INTO SLAVERY
All these drugs, from marijuana to LSD to heroin, are either physically or psychologically addicting, or both. Researchers say: “Scientists . . . agree that signs of psychological addiction [to marijuana] are common.” True, certain drugs, administered under a physician’s care, may have some medicinal purpose. But marijuana users can find no such excuse, for, says the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, “unlike other drugs, it has no known use in modern medicine.”
The Christian, in carrying on the fight for the faith, is warned: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Pet. 5:8) The person who relaxes vigilance, particularly when it is done for “kicks” and by something that incapacitates his normal processes of thinking and discernment, is opening himself up to attack by Satan and the demons. Such a person throws away self-control, and acts contrary to his devotion to God and Christ. The apostle Paul said: “I will not let myself be brought under authority by anything” (that is, that would put Paul at a disadvantage in serving God).—1 Cor. 6:12; Gal. 5:22, 23.
CHRIST REJECTED UNREALITY AND DRUGS
What was Jesus Christ’s view of escapism and drug use? When a suggestion by Peter, one of his apostles, tempted him to escape reality by looking away for even an instant from the difficult course of sacrifice before him, Jesus quickly replied: “Get behind me, Satan.”—Mark 8:32, 33.
Later, when about to be impaled on the torture stake, Jesus was offered “wine drugged with myrrh, but he would not take it.” (Mark 15:23) Why did Jesus refuse? Vine’s Dictionary comments: “[The verb] SMURNIZO . . . is used transitively in the N.T., with the meaning to mingle or drug with myrrh, Mark 15:23; the mixture was doubtless offered to deaden the pain (Matthew’s word ‘gall’ [Mt 27:34] suggests that myrrh was not the only ingredient). Christ refused to partake of any such means of alleviation; He would retain all his mental power for the complete fulfillment of the Father’s will.” Just before he died, Christ accepted some sour wine for his thirst. This, incidentally, indicates that Jesus made a distinction between drugs and wine.—John 19:28-30.
PARENTS, HELP YOUR CHILDREN
Parents can help their children, and should prepare them in advance. They should approach the subject with the right attitude. Young persons may feel that they have good reasons for using drugs, because they hear arguments favoring drugs from worldly associates all around them. Children are basically intelligent, and they want, not merely a series of “no’s,” but adequate reasons. Parents, employing love, consideration and kindness, reasoning with facts and Bible counsel, can fortify children to resist the drug menace.—2 Tim. 2:24-26.
The relationship of the person with God is the strongest matter to stress. For, if God is left out of the picture, the discussion may “go in circles” and end up with the child feeling that there was really little valid, authoritative counsel that would benefit him. And the parents must set the proper example themselves, not “giving themselves to a lot of wine,” and not relying on “pep” pills (amphetamines) and sedatives (barbiturates) to substitute for self-control when faced with emotional problems, weight problems (from lack of control in eating), and so forth.—1 Tim. 3:8; Prov. 23:20.
Parents should point out to their children that illicit drug trade and use are suppressed by very strong laws in many countries, penalties for violations ranging up to the death penalty. The Christian who traffics in or uses illicit drugs is a lawbreaker, a criminal; he is refusing to obey God, to ‘pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar,’ and is not showing proper subjection to the superior authorities, as commanded by God.—Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1.
In addition, the person who is tempted to use drugs should realize that, very often, in order to buy drugs, users turn to stealing and even violence. In a survey by the Centre of Criminology of the University of Toronto, covering 967 persons eighteen years of age and older, drugs were listed as the chief cause for crime, with lack of discipline in the home a close second.
Drugs weaken integrity to God. The U.S. Government brochure reports: “A person using marijuana finds it harder to make decisions that require clear thinking. And he finds himself more easily open to other people’s suggestions.” If they had been smoking marijuana to escape reality, would the three Hebrew companions of Daniel have been able to stand with firm decision, as they did, with death in a fiery furnace staring them in the face?—Dan. 3:1-25.
COPING WITH “GROUP PRESSURE”
Parents must face the realization that probably the strongest force tending to promote drug use is “peer group pressure.” This is the desire to be “in” with the crowd and the fear of being called a coward or a “square.” Usually it is a “friend” who is the pusher. “The ‘peddler’ may be the boy next door,” says the New York Times. Often a pusher makes a gift of a “reefer” (marijuana cigarette) or a stronger drug to the individual to get him started toward becoming a profitable customer later. In an apparent effort to cause further addiction, some have sprayed marijuana with heroin before selling it.
How, then, will the youth who is constantly pressed by companions, at school, at work and elsewhere, successfully fight the use of drugs? The Bible rule is: “Bad associations spoil useful habits,” and, “Flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.” (1 Cor. 15:33; 2 Tim. 2:22) Those who are learning to respect God’s laws are therefore the ‘clean-hearted’ ones whose companionship is valuable.
If the youth is a Christian witness of Jehovah, he has the strongest possible weapon. That is his knowledge of God’s Word of truth and the ability to bear witness to God’s kingdom. (Eph. 6:17) Often, if he tells his associates that he is one of Jehovah’s witnesses and that he cannot join them in their use of drugs, he will be left alone. If, whenever opportunity arises, he speaks about Bible principles and the better things that God’s kingdom brings, he will be respected by many for abstaining from drugs. Furthermore, he may even be able to help some of his associates to avoid or break away from drug use.
LIVING NOW ACCORDING TO REALITY
“Psychedelic” means “mind (or, soul) manifesting.” But it is not through any analysis of his own imperfect mind and heart that man finds what is good. (Rom. 7:18; Jer. 17:9, 10) Rather, it is through an understanding of the mind of God and of his Son Jesus Christ. It is God’s Word and spirit that reveal these things of inestimable value to us. (1 Cor. 2:9-13) The Bible also enables one to analyze what is really in one’s own heart, so that one can make corrections in harmony with God’s righteous will, not a mere “trip” into sensuality that leaves the individual more confused and depressed than before.—Heb. 4:12.
While drug users claim that they achieve “Eden,” “paradise” and “love,” those who hold to the principle of godly devotion have the “promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8) They are living in reality and enjoying life, being kept occupied, with no boredom or frustration, for they have a purpose in life. (1 Cor. 15:58) On the other hand, a college student confessed: “I have stopped taking drugs. . . . It became all too easy to ‘groove’ on something . . . without ever coming to terms with real problems, without ever really thinking. The borders of illusion and reality became hazy.”
Truly, the present scene of this world is a depressing thing. But the apostle Paul comforts us: “The scene of this world is changing.” (1 Cor. 7:31) Instead of war, hatred, prejudice and death, a true Edenic paradise is at hand, in which God “will wipe out every tear from [mankind’s] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) Anyone with a desire to learn of God can achieve real peace of mind and, not a fanciful, dreamy “instant paradise,” but an actual, enduring one, by studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses. If we seek God, he will let himself be found by us, for, “in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.”—Acts 17:27; 2 Chron. 15:2.