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FIRST-PERSON: Calculating the cost of recovery

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–The Apostle Paul says, in 1 Cor 6:12 (KJV), “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.”

We were at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary to speak with the faculty about substance abuse. While we were there, Bill Crews, president of Golden Gate Seminary, offered this insight into the above passage.

“That means that God will forgive you for every stupid thing you do,” Crews suggested, “but he doesn’t always take away the consequences.”

One of the consequences of prolonged involvement with mood-altering chemicals can be, and often is, severe withdrawal. Most of us are familiar with the term, “withdrawal,” and generally associate it with the notorious narcotic heroin. Hearing this term may conjure up images of filthy, fevered, street junkies trembling beneath a bridge in some large metropolitan area.

Of course, this scenario is an unfortunate reality. In fact, it occurs often and even in more affluent neighborhoods across the United States. In recent years the use of heroin has gained popularity among the nation’s suburban youth. News reports of respectable teenagers dying from overdoses of the deadly drug flashed across the television almost daily a few years ago in north Texas.

Many young people innocently bumble into involvement with heroin looking for excitement or escape from the daily grind. What they find, often too late, is that they bit off more than they could chew. It does not take long for a person to develop a physical addiction to this drug.

Withdrawal from heroin can be as intense as the rush that initially accompanies the drug. Heroin’s reputation has been rightfully gained. It is undisputedly the surest route to disaster among the illegal drugs.

Another depressant drug that carries significant potential for addiction is alcohol. Withdrawal from alcohol can also be quite severe. In some cases alcoholics experience what is referred to as delirium tremens or DT’s. This condition is marked by fever, tremors, hallucinations and acute mental distress. In some cases withdrawal from alcohol can even be fatal.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in its 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, reports that 48.3 percent of the country’s population ages 12 and over drink alcohol. The annual report further concludes that 13.4 million Americans of the same age group either abuse or are dependent upon alcohol. That is 67 times the number of people who are classified as dependent upon heroin according to the same study.

It seems that we hurriedly grab our torches and pitchforks to run to the house of evil when it is occupied by the unpopular, illegal substances. But we are not so quick to strike the match when it is inhabited by our vices.

Withdrawal from either of the abovementioned substances can indeed prove quite trying. In fact, it is often necessary for persons who have developed physical dependencies to such substances to enter a hospital for supervised care during the initial detoxification phase of the recovery process.

For those who have wandered far down that dark road of addiction there is no easy road back. Those who eventually do achieve release from the clutches of these harmful substances discover that it is sometimes necessary for an individual to hurt in order to get well, an unpopular notion in today’s feel-good society.
Stone and Barber, of Durham, N.C., are coauthors of two books on alcohol and drug abuse, “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Hurts” and “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Cares,” both available from LifeWay Christian Stores.

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  • Ted Stone & Philip Barber