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FIRST-PERSON: Honest answers

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–Only those who live in a dream world, unencumbered by the daily tragedies and challenges of the real world, would flippantly comment, “I know of no one with a drug problem.” Our telephones ring constantly, our mailboxes are full and there is no shortage of individuals who seek help and hope for their loved ones who hurt.

We learned long ago that our answers must be truthful, understandable, adequate and, yes, delivered in a bold, but loving fashion. Those who seek a magic pill that will deliver instant relief, or those who want the truth glossed over, will soon find disappointment in our answers.

Recently a dear friend discussed her son’s current problems during a telephone conversation. “He’s just being his same old self!” she said of the young man who battled drug addiction for several years before finding release from his self-made dilemma. The family has already lost one son to a drug overdose. The mother related that her younger son had not returned to his old drug habits but that his behavior patterns were far from acceptable. An employee of the family’s business, the errant son was irresponsible in his work habits. He was constantly late to work because of oversleeping and always slow in paying his bills. His addiction has switched from behavior-altering substances to video games and pornography. His obsessive personality trait dictated that he do everything to the maximum. His parents wished that he would use this excessive bent in being a good husband to his wife and a good employee in his job.

The caring mother explained that she had researched his behavior pattern and discovered that many of his symptoms were similar to those being described in advertisements touting the benefits of attention deficit disorder medications for adults. Then she referred to a program for relief for such a “disease” by a West Coast physician who often prescribed anti-depressants as a significant answer rather than the well-known stimulants often prescribed for the disorder. Her own frustration with her son’s behavior was driving her to search for a pill that would cure everything, and there is no such thing.

Our answer is always the same. “Your son does not have a disease. He has a behavior problem that is correctable, not by the ingestion of some pharmaceutical gem, but rather by the will to change habits that are not beneficial to self or significant others, and certainly do not bring honor to our Lord. The crutches proposed by doctors and other counselors as a way out of undesirable patterns can only eventually lead to a much greater disaster than his original addiction. Encourage your son to a closer walk with the Lord. He needs to replace his current addictions to wasteful and degrading habits with a total dependence on the Lord for guidance. He needs a Christian mentor who will seek to provide Bible-based, Christ-centered solutions for his shortcomings and will keep his interests trained on the right goals until he matures to a point that his present immature actions will no longer be an option.”

The advice she received was not soothing; neither was it what she probably hoped to hear. The truth hurts, but when we embrace that measure of truth, there exists a real hope that we, or our loved ones, can be set free.

Recently a lady who is an active member of a Southern Baptist mega-church reminded us that she had attended one of our conferences. “The advice you gave me concerning my daughter set me free,” she said. Her loved one had been a great source of concern because of a serious drug habits for years. The family had tried every conceivable way to rescue the young lady, and frustration and hopelessness had set in. “I’ll never forget your advice,” the mother confided. “You told me that sometimes you have to let go and let God. And that’s exactly what I did. That advice actually saved my own life.”

We rejoiced with this servant of God that she had found hope in our suggestion. Such success reports give us encouragement and keep us going in the ministry to which God has called us. But, sadly, we realize that not all who seek our advice will follow it. God has directed us to share the truth, and this we will do, in love, until He calls or until He comes.

Ted Stone & Philip Barber speak in Southern Baptist church pulpits across the nation about drug and alcohol abuse and are coauthors of two books on the subject, “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. Inquiries should be addressed to Ted Stone Ministries, P.O. Box 1397, Durham, N.C. 27702, or telephone (919) 477-1581.

    About the Author

  • Ted G. Stone & Philip D. Barber