Social Issues (Part 6): Drug Abuse

Social Issues

Drug abuse is a broad topic. It includes illicit drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.), legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco), and even prescription drugs. This lesson is not about the medicinal use of drugs but the recreational use of such substances.

Those who argue in favor of recreational drug use (including “social drinking”) will often argue that as long as they remain in control and do not use these substances in excess or to the point of harming themselves or others, it is perfectly fine. As a way to justify their behavior, it is common for those who want to defend drug and alcohol use to liken it to eating unhealthy foods.

Facts & Statistics

In 2014, approximately 27 million Americans – 10.2% of the population over age 12 – used illicit drugs.

In 2014, almost 140 million Americans over age 12 were currently using alcohol with 16.3 million reporting heavy alcohol use in the prior month.

In 2014, about 6.5 million Americans over age 12 reported current, non-medical use of prescription drugs (painkillers, sedatives, stimulants, and tranquilizers).

In 2013, 22.7 million Americans needed treatment for a substance use disorder (almost 9% of the population over age 12); but only about 2.5 million received such treatment at a specialty facility.

NOTE: The above statistics include people who are over the age of 12. That means this problem is not just for adults, it also affects teenagers.

Basic Bible Principles Relating to This

Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit – Paul told the brethren in Corinth: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Regardless of one’s conclusion about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (direct or indirect), the point here is that we are to serve God and honor Him with our bodies.

God expects us to take care of our bodies – Because we serve and honor God with our bodies, we are to treat our bodies in such a way that we can continue to use them in our service to God. In discussing how husbands were to care for their wives, Paul said, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church” (Ephesians 5:29). The only way this command makes any sense is if we have the inherent desire to take care of ourselves.

Using certain substances medicinally is acceptable to an extent – In addressing some recurrent ailment that was afflicting Timothy, Paul told him, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23). This verse is not about the casual use of alcohol (i.e. social drinking); rather, this is about the medicinal use of such a substance. This type of usage is authorized when done so carefully.

Drug abuse is a form of poor stewardship – Throughout the Bible, the principle of stewardship is emphasized. We are to be good stewards of the things with which God has blessed us. Drug abuse shows poor stewardship of our bodies because it is destructive and hinders our ability to use our bodies properly to fulfill our responsibilities (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 5:29; 1 Timothy 4:8), and of our money because we need this in order to fulfill various obligations (cf. Ecclesiastes 10:19; Proverbs 3:9; Luke 15:13).

We are to be sober-minded – Part of being of sober spirit (1 Peter 4:7) is avoiding alcohol (1 Peter 4:3-4) because it alters the functioning of our minds. Paul contrasted being “drunk with wine” with being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) since both affect the way we think. Drugs and alcohol cause us to lose control of our minds. This is why the wise man called wine a “mocker” (Proverbs 20:1) and explained how alcohol is debilitating, injurious, and addictive (Proverbs 20:29-35).

We are not to be addicted to anything – Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). When we are addicted to something, it is a master over us. Even if drugs were otherwise harmless, since they are addictive, they are to be avoided. (Note: Not all drug users are addicted, but drug use leads to drug addiction.)

Bottom Line

We are to use our bodies in a way that honors God and reflects good stewardship. Drug abuse is inconsistent with this.

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