“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” —1 Corinthians 6:19
When we think of drug addicts, we tend to imagine the stereotypes. We often associate drug use with teenagers, thugs, and criminals. However, the fact of the matter is that substance abuse can take hold of anyone, regardless of the person’s age, gender, or even religious affiliation. In fact, substance abuse has been a growing problem in the Christian community.
Illicit Drug Use, Substance Abuse, and Moral Law
Although the Bible does not address drug use explicitly (see out blog Examples of Addiction in Scripture), the key Christian teaching surrounding the idea of drug use is that the physical body, being the home of the soul, is sacred. So, of course, Christians as a whole do not approve of illicit (illegal) drugs, even recreational ones like marijuana. As far as the Christian community is concerned, drugs that alter the mind and lure good people away from God and His Word are the ones to avoid. But what about drugs that are designed to help the body, like prescription medication?
The Rise of Prescription Drug Abuse
America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic— one that will likely have its own page in most future history books. What most people might not realize, however, is that opioids come in both legal and illegal forms. The former includes certain medicines that anyone can have access to with a doctor’s note. So, those who regularly use these kinds of (mostly harmless) medications are at a higher risk of developing a prescription drug abuse problem.
Prescription drug abuse has been a serious problem for over a decade. In fact, the number of recorded emergency room visits involving prescription drug abuse had almost doubled between 2004 and 2009. In 2010, 1 in every 20 people reported during a study to have misused prescription drugs that year. Today, the CDC estimates that 15,000 people die of prescription painkillers overdose every year— and the rate only seems to be increasing.
Questions to Ask Yourself about Drug Use if You Are Christian
Since prescription drugs are not illegal, but they can still lead to addiction development, where do they fall on the Christian scale of moral versus immoral? There is no easy answer. Prescription drug abuse, if left untreated, can have severe long-lasting effects on your health, which may very well impact your relationship with God and with your loved ones. But how can you know for sure whether or not you actually have a substance abuse problem?
The Bible may not specifically reference drug use or its effects on the body or soul, but it still offers appropriate insight for Christians that can aid in making biblical decisions about drug use. There are three questions you can ask yourself that will help you determine whether or not you need help.
1. Is The Substance You Are Using Legal?
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”
The Bible is clear about obeying the laws of the land. So, the use of illicit drugs of any kind is, for the most part, expressly prohibited. If the drug you use regularly is legal, and you use it responsibly, then you are not breaking the law and are therefore not violating God’s Will.
2. Is The Substance You Are Using a Benefit to Your Health?
“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
—1 Corinthians 4:5
One of the most universal signs of devotion among Christians is self-care— and the maintenance of good health. Electing to defile their bodies with harmful substances like drugs would be an affront to the Lord. But what about drugs that were designed to do good? If you use substances that aid in sleep, focus or healing, you are most likely doing it for the betterment of your physical and mental health. If this is the case, then you are not guilty of prescription drug misuse.
3. What Do You Feel When You Take (Or Don’t Take) the Substance You are Using?
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
—3 John 1:2
Prescription drugs were created to help people maintain or restore their health. When you take prescription medication at the dosage given by your doctor, you should feel healthy and content. If you rely on a substance for more than its intended purpose, this could easily be read as a warning. With this in mind, you SHOULD NOT:
- Feel overly excited about taking a prescription drug
- Feel guilty or ashamed about taking a prescription drug
- Feel the need to hide or lie about taking a prescription drug
- Feel like you cannot wait for your next dose (i.e. self-medicate)
- Feel any kind of withdrawal during a normal span of time between doses
These feelings and situations are clear signs that you may be developing a problem— one that needs to be addressed before it becomes detrimental to your health and to the body that God gave you.
Other Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
The symptoms and side effects that people experience in prescription drug addiction will vary, but there are several behavioral signs that can indicate the problem before a dependency has developed. These signs typically include:
- Loss of interest in things that are normally appealing
- Mood swings and/or changes in personality
- Changes in social circle or hang-out spots
- Frequently avoiding eye contact
- Uncharacteristic forgetfulness
- Anger or aggression
If anyone you know or care about has pointed out these or similar changes in you, it could mean that you have developed an addiction to prescription drugs— which, in the eyes of the Christian community and for all intents and purposes, is just as harmful and as immoral as illegal substance use.
The Consequences of Untreated Prescription Drug Abuse
Ongoing prescription drug abuse can lead to serious consequences, both long-term and short-term, medical or not. The consequences that most people tend to think of are the physical ones. In cases of prescription drug abuse, there are a wide variety of medical complications that can develop as a result of addiction. This, of course, depends on the type of drug being abused, but for the most part, the short-term effects typically include:
- Slowed breathing
- Increased heart rate
- High body temperatures
Long-term effects of prescription drug abuse can include:
- Memory lapses
- Muscle aches and pain
- Organ or tissue damage
- Increased blood pressure
Outside of the physical responses to prescription drug addiction, there are other consequences that you could face if you don’t receive help. Some of these could include long-term impaired judgment, trouble at home or at work, financial issues and relationship problems— especially the relationship you have with God.
Road to Freedom Can Help You Forge Your Path to Recovery
If you’ve developed an addiction to prescription drugs and are scared for both your body and soul, we’re here to help. At Road to Freedom, our faith-based programs can help you address and overcome the factors driving your addiction as you get sober and rebuild your relationship with God. Call us today at 844-402-3605 for more information.