DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–The national roadmap to victory in the much-heralded “war on drugs” has proven to be misleading to the public. In the first of this two-part series (Baptist Press, Aug. 27), we assessed six of the major misconceptions promoted, deliberately or accidentally, by those entrusted with leadership roles in this effort. In today’s column we will address another six misconceptions.
MISCONCEPTION #7: Many secular and some faith-based treatment experts insist that addiction cannot be cured. These professionals insist that once an individual becomes addicted to a behavior-altering substance, he is doomed to remain an addict the rest of his life.
THE TRUTH: An addicted person is not doomed to wear the nametag “drug addict” or “alcoholic” the rest of his days on earth. There is hope for full recovery. While this individual may go through a short or extended period of recovery, he can actually reach the status of “recovered forever by the grace of God.” The best way to achieve this is to substitute something stronger for the addiction. To us, this should be an acceptance of Jesus, not only as Savior, but also as Lord of life. This dependence and trust in the Lord works miracles for hurting people.
MISCONCEPTION #8: A 30-day period of drying out, psychological intervention and drug abuse education will be sufficient treatment to allow the addicted one to return to his job or school regimen and his former close associates, whether family or friends.
THE TRUTH: While there are some miraculous overnight cures of addicted individuals, for most who seek recovery it is a long, hard road back to sobriety. Therefore the 30- or 60-day primary treatment program should be just a beginning of the process and should be Christ-centered in approach to provide the best hope for eventual cure. The best plan for the seriously addicted person also should include a six-month stay at a Christ-centered halfway house, preferably away from his former environment, followed by active involvement in a Christian support group in whatever community he locates.
MISCONCEPTION #9: The public, particularly the individual hurting because of a drug-related problem, is better served if the identification of any higher power mentioned in the process of treatment remains nebulous. In a society so diverse with individuals of various religious backgrounds or none, it is better to remain politically correct and speak of faith in whatever higher power the individual embraces.
THE TRUTH: Recovery demands truth, not political correctness. Dependence on God Almighty for strength and direction through commitment to the Lordship of Jesus are important ingredients of a permanent recovery. The truth can set addicted individuals free, but only if we give the addicted person an opportunity to accept it.
MISCONCEPTION #10: Drug abuse education breeds curiosity and leads our young people to experiment with harmful substances.
THE TRUTH: While schools and churches can beneficially provide realistic educational programs for our children without glorifying the drug abuse experience (the truth about the drug scene is never pretty or appealing), the very best place for drug abuse education is in the home. Parents, grandparents and siblings should be well-prepared with answers to the questions of curious children. However, if the proper answer proves elusive, the one questioned should not be reluctant to say, “I don’t know that answer, but let’s go together and find that answer.”
MISCONCEPTION #11: Commercial advertisements touting the benefits of alcoholic beverages and pharmaceutical products are truthful and accurate.
THE TRUTH: Advertisements for these substances are crammed with half-truths and never tell the whole story. Note the commercials for beer that portray customers as happy and successful. These ads never display pictures or stories about tragic automobile wrecks caused by those who drive under the influence of their products, and they certainly never show the family members who live in dread fear of their loved one who is a violent drunk!
Neither do the pharmaceutical companies share the sad side of the story. When advertising anti-depressants, they fail to mention that some states recorded more citizens dying from overdoses of anti-depressants prescribed by doctors in a yearly period than those whose deaths were attributed to overdoses of cocaine or heroin. The manufacturers of attention-deficit-hyperactivity medicines fail to divulge that the stimulant properties of their drugs may eventually impose negative physical and/or psychological effects on the user.
Advertisements for medicines or alcoholic beverages often make direct appeals to society’s desire to feel good, no matter what the cost.
MISCONCEPTION #12: The government and medical professionals are best equipped to handle the drug problem.
THE TRUTH: Both of these have failed miserably at providing an adequate solution to the drug tragedy. Their only answers seem to be the expenditure of vast sums of money, most of it tax dollars from the public, and an overwhelming emphasis on the illegal drug problem while underestimating the terrifying legal substance abuse problems. Action or inaction often is motivated more by economic or political factors than by a determination to overcome this national disgrace.
The Christian church, which has preached that Jesus is the ultimate answer to every dark problem on this earth, should assume the leadership role in finding a permanent solution to this dilemma. We must first remove the logs from our own eyes so that we can see clearly to help remove the splinters from our brothers’ eyes. We should become heroes for those around us by practicing total abstinence from behavior-altering substances that are harmful to us and to society in general. There is someone who trusts in each of us, and we must be always true to that trust by setting good examples.
Sadly, we are trapped in a quagmire of our own making. There is a road that leads out of this misconceived agenda, but this newfound path of hope will require a high degree of courage and wisdom. We must first realize that many in current leadership roles do not wish to see an alternative that could yield a successful conclusion to our drug abuse tragedy, for the continuation of the status quo means more money and power to those directly involved, no matter which side of the issue they represent.
We must be careful that our dismay with the present failed programs does not lead us to throw up our hands in disgust and surrender to those who would place stamps of public approval on the sale and distribution of all illegal drugs. The better way will require that we embrace the truth, no matter how painful. We must sacrificially commit our time and effort to the final solution of “our problem.”
Ted G. Stone & Philip D. Barber are well-known speakers and writers on the subject of drug abuse.