And Drug Abuse
We are going to consider drinking and drug abuse together
because that is where they belong.
Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is in fact a drug and one most widely abused
drug in this country. Most people do not
look at drinking the same way they look at the use of illegal drugs. The truth is that they should. That which can be said about the abuse of
alcohol can also be said about the abuse of any drug.
What is abuse? This
English word is a compound of the prefix "ab-," meaning from, off, or
away, and the root word: use or utilize.
It is therefore an off-use, a misuse, a use away from what ought to
be. Webster states, "To put to a
wrong or improper use." So let's
clarify what we are and are not talking about.
Most drugs have some rightful, therapeutic use. Doctors prescribe these, or they can be
easily purchased at stores. Their
intended use is to improve the quality of life or treat ailments. Such proper use of substances is mentioned in
Luke 7:46 "You did
not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant
Luke 10:34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring
in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and
took care of him.
1 Timothy 5:23 Drink no
longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often
James 5:14 Is any sick
among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over
him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
We are not talking about the proper use of things; we are
talking about improper use. In a
different subject matter, the misuse of a thing is mentioned in scripture:
KJV 1 Corinthians 9:18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the
gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not
my power in the gospel.
So, how are substances used wrong today?
Wrong amount or dose
A doctor may prescribe or we may otherwise rightfully
purchase some drug. All drugs have a
recommended dosage for proper use. If we
use the substances for longer periods or in higher amounts, we are abusing, as
is often done when a doctor prescribes a drug to help someone with a sleeping
If we take medications that a doctor prescribed for someone
else's problem, we are abusing.
Some drugs are by-products of research. Drugs are not invented as much as they are
discovered. New compounds are formulated
and tested on animals and human subjects.
Some are found to have harmful or unpredictable effects, which a doctor
would never prescribe. Such drugs have
no known legitimate purpose. These
substances enter illegal markets for no other use than abuse. Examples are the drugs ecstasy and crack
Some substances are not drugs at all but are nevertheless
capable of producing effects similar to drugs.
They have other legitimate uses that have nothing to do with medicines
or medical research. Examples are
sniffing glue and paint.
In many cases, a substance is used simply for recreation or
personal enjoyment. We then have to
determine the legitimacy of the very use itself. As a Christian, God's word is our standard
for making this determination. For
example, skin conditioner is used for its soothing effect, and the Bible makes
no indication that this is sinful. On
the other hand, alcoholic beverages are also used for a soothing effect: the
purpose of intoxication. There's nothing
wrong with recreation or personal enjoyment, but the Bible has plenty to say
about the sinfulness of intoxication.
This also is abuse, and our study will look at this in greater detail.
Clinical View of Drug Abuse
All drugs are used to influence the mind and body in an
attempt to alter the emotions, change the senses, essentially fool the body,
and escape reality. There are three
basic classifications of drugs that are abused:
This group of drugs includes "psychedelics." Researchers do not fully understand how they
work in the nervous system, but Webster's dictionary states they are used to
"affect with visions or imaginary perceptions…perception of objects with
no reality usually arising from disorder of the nervous system." Marijuana is in this category.
This group includes drugs called
"amphetamines." They work to
increase the rate of signals transmitted in the nervous system. They thus cause a heightened awareness or
sensitivity with an increased heart rate.
Caffeine and nicotine are in this category.
This group includes drugs called "barbiturates." They work to chemically block signals between
nerve cells. They thus cause
sluggishness and sleepiness. Alcohol is
in this category.
All of these drugs have varying capabilities of addicting us
or causing bodily harm, if abused. Our
studies in morality show that to glorify God in our bodies, which are temples
of God bought by the blood of Christ, we should not intentionally do ourselves
harm. Furthermore, our studies show that
addiction is a lack of self-control, which is sin.
Out of all, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are the most
abused drugs today. Nicotine abuse in
cigarette smoking is so prevalent, harmful, and cruelly addictive that a
separate study is devoted to it. For
now, let's take closer consideration of caffeine and alcohol abuse.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring compound in plants,
especially cocoa nuts, coffee beans, and tea leaves. It therefore shows up in a broad range of our
food products. It blocks the chemical
receptors in nerves that naturally produce sleepiness. This blockage fools the body into thinking it
needs to produce more adrenaline, a hormone that naturally kicks up our energy
level when we are frightened. The effect
of caffeine on the body has considerable variation from person to person; some
are more susceptible to its effects than others.
It also chemically works similarly to heroin and cocaine,
which probably gives it the ability to addict but to a very much milder
degree. This is probably why some
beverage companies intentionally add caffeine to their product to get customers
to keep buying it.
Caffeine can kill in a large dose equivalent to drinking 80
to 100 cups of coffee in rapid succession: not an easy feat. The greatest practical long-term health
problem associated with caffeine abuse is sleep deprivation, which can lead to
irritability. Once addicted, attempts to
break the addiction can lead to fatigue, depression, and headaches. Being a stimulant, caffeine does not produce
debilitating effects. No automobile
accident ever resulted from too much caffeine consumption. Homes have never been wrecked as a result of
Caffeine use is nowhere explicitly mentioned in scripture,
but then, again, neither is smoking.
However, we have seen that scripture does condemn addiction of any
kind. If we are addicted to caffeine, to
us, it is sin. Some researchers today
suggest that if a person is drinking four or more cups of coffee in a day, they
probably have a dependency problem.
Statistics help us understand the magnitude of the problems
of alcohol abuse. In the United States
today there are at least 80 million people who use alcoholic beverages and the
number seems to increase all the time.
Of that number it is conservatively estimated that 7 million are what
could be called "problem drinkers" and out of those at least 3
million are alcoholics.
You might ask "What does that have to do with young
people?" Probably most of the
problem drinkers or alcoholics that you have seen are adults. However, a recent survey among college
students helps us to see why we would talk about these sins to young
people. Of college students who drink, 4
out of 5 men and 2 out of 3 women began to drink while they were in high
school. Even if statistics didn't bear
it out, experience would teach that people generally begin to drink when they
are young – about high school age.
Dr. T. Mark Lloyd, of Gainesville, Florida, wrote,
"Alcohol is a drug which has both immediate (acute) effects and more
longer lasting (chronic) effects.
Usually it is the immediate effects that the drinker is seeking. The first organ system that shows a rapid
effect from alcohol is the brain. The
brain is quite compartmentalized and there are certain areas that perform
different functions. The frontal portion
of our brain called the frontal lobe (that part of the brain which anatomically
and neurologically separates man from other animals) controls our inhibitions
among other things. It so happens that
this is the portion of the brain quickly affected by alcohol. This is why we see a person becoming
'happier', louder and more boisterous.
He begins to do things he would not normally do. (By the way, this is not the point at which a
person is as yet defined by all criteria as being drunk.) This is also why it is so very dangerous for
the young and others who otherwise under normal conditions have proper sexual
inhibitions, but may lose these inhibitions while drinking, thus engaging in
sexual activities they would not normally do.
Now we can begin to see why people like alcohol and it's immediate
effects. Other acute effects are visual
disturbances, loss of balance, and loss of motor coordination. If questioned closely, law enforcement
officials will tell you anywhere from 50 to 90
percent of all automobile accidents are a direct or indirect result of
someone being under the influence of alcohol.
Not necessarily drunk either, but just drinking and not in total control
of all faculties or not totally aware of circumstances."
Dr. Lloyd continues, "The ill effects of alcohol also
have their longer lasting results. The
most common problem is that of cirrhosis or loss of liver function. The liver is the organ in the body that
detoxifies alcohol. If taken in
abundance and for a long period of time, the liver can and will be destroyed by
this drug. This type of individual is
not a very pretty sight to see. Usually
at this stage he also has chronic brain damage which is the direct result of
the alcohol as well. The gastrointestinal
tract is the next most common organ that is affected by alcohol. Disasters such as ulcers, stomach
inflammation, and severe bleeding from the esophagus or stomach can occur as a
result of alcoholic consumption. The
heart can most definitely become adversely involved from it's chronic use. Secondarily, the pancreas, muscles, skin, and
a number of other organs are also involved destructively."
With much drinking, brain cells are destroyed. Alcohol causes agglutination, or thickening
of the blood, and can lead to blockage of the blood flow through some of the
brain cells. Starved of oxygen for as
little as three minutes, the affected cells will die and the damage is
permanent. They will not revive
themselves or grow back.
does the Bible Say of the Effects of Alcohol Abuse?
Harmful – Physically
Woe, sorrow, contentions, wounds
Hallucinations, redness of eyes
Silly talking, impaired speech
Disorientation, confusion, and dizziness
Lack of sensibility
Harmful – In Happiness and Prosperity
Proverbs 21:17; 23:21
Poverty is his.
He shall be a poor man; he shall not be rich.
Harmful – Mentally
Proverbs 31:4, 5
Adversely affects judgment
What Can Be Lost?
Noah lost his decency (Genesis 9:20-29).
Lot's daughters lost their virginity (Genesis
David lost his integrity in the case of Uriah (2 Samuel 11:13).
Belshazzar lost his kingdom (Daniel 5).
Ahasuerus lost his wife and his self-respect.
We can lose our influence (Titus 2:7, 8).
If we engage in this kind of activity, we will
lose our souls (1 Corinthians 6:10).
Bible Condemns Drinking
Consider carefully these two passages:
NKJ Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which
are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery,
hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions,
dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and
the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past,
that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
NKJ 1 Peter 4:3 For we have
spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles --
when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking
parties, and abominable idolatries.
Lets take a look at the words underlined above in the
original Greek text:
Sorcery [PHARMAKEIA] (from whence the English
word "pharmacy" is derived) –
J. H. Thayer defines this as (1) the use or the administering of drugs
(2) poisoning (3) sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with
idolatry and fostered by it, and (4) metaphorically, the deceptions and
seductions of idolatry.
Drunkenness (Galatians 5) [METHE] (from whence,
the English "methanol," a type of alcohol) – This is defined as drunkenness, habitual
intoxication, deep drinking, drunken bouts.
Drunkenness (1 Peter 4) [OINOPHLUGIA] – Thayer simply defines it as drunkenness. The King James Version accurately renders it
"excess of wine," indicating habitual intoxication. It marks a step in advance of the drunkenness
(METHE) mentioned in Galatians 5.
Revelries [KOMOS] – J. H. Thayer defines this as "(1) a
revel, carousal (1a) a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome
fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in
honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male
and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that
are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry."
Drinking parties [POTOS] – The NKJ Version
renders this as "banquetings."
Be careful not to read this as "drunken parties;" that would
be KOMOS. Literally, POTOS is a
"drinking" without reference to amount. The verb form is POTIZO, "to give to
drink" without regard to amount.
R.C. Trench says, "not of necessity excessive." He further explains that POTOS is related to
words of excess in that it gives "opportunity for excess". This is cocktail party drinking, sipping of
wine, and social drinking. This includes
consumption of such a small amount that no alteration in behavior or senses
could be detected.
There is a progressiveness evident in these words. They describe every aspect of drinking today
from just casually tasting wine, to drinking for the purpose of merrymaking, to
getting the beer-buzz, to being completely drunk, and to being passed out in
your own vomit. Scripture condemns them all.
The Bible is full of references to drunkenness too numerous
to begin to mention. We will suffice to
say that it is never cast in a favorable light by the inspired writers and is
often associated with harlotry, idolatry, indecency, shamefulness, sorrow, and
Any substance that would behave like alcohol to similarly
lower inhibitions, dull the senses, alter our perceptions, harm the body, or
addict us is also condemned in scripture on a matter of principle.
We shouldn't need to mention that underage drinking and the
use of illegal substances is sin because it also violates civil law, to which a
Christian is to be in subjection.
God does not make any meaningless or arbitrary prohibitions;
all are for the good of His creation.
Why do Young People Drink or Abuse Drugs?
A lot of young folks drink and abuse drugs because they want
to see what it is like.
To be Accepted
This is peer pressure.
Maybe the greatest number of young people drink or use drugs because
they want to be accepted. Everybody
wants to be liked. It is rare to find a
young person who first drinks or first takes drugs alone. Generally speaking, these are things that
are, at least initially, done with others.
Concerning peer pressure, we all need to realize that young
people are under a lot of pressure.
Adults may easily think a teenager has nothing to feel pressure
about. They don't have to pay the bills
or go to work everyday or be responsible for the needs of their families. The truth is, young people do feel
pressure. They are in a period of
physical and emotional change with worries about their appearance, doubts about
their future, concerns about school work, uncertainties in the church, or
confusion about expectations, and they don't have the experience or maturity to
always deal with them properly. Young
people need to know that others understand and are here to help. Drugs abuse is certainly not the answer.
Maybe you just don't like the way things are. You don't like it at home – mom and dad just
don't understand. You don't like it at
school, maybe you don't see the point of it.
You don't like it at church, maybe you feel like you don't have any real
friends. Some young people are deceived
into thinking that drinking or drugs can ease that unhappiness for a little
Influences of Society
We shouldn't jump to blame our environment, but it is a
contributing factor. Think about what
television and advertisements teach us.
Young people don't always understood that TV commercials are designed by
people who will say just about anything to get you to buy their product. Consequently, what do we hear? If you are fat, take a pill; if you can't
sleep, take a pill; if your stomach is upset, take a pill; if you're constipated,
take a pill; if you want stronger fingernails, take a pill; if you have a
headache, take a pill, and on and on. We
are taught that if anything at all is bothering you – take a pill.
The music we choose to listen to has an influence on
us. In the 1960's, the drug culture
began, and to deny that is was influenced by music is to be like the ostrich
with it's head in the sand. Lots of
music today still promotes drug abuse and escaping from reality.
You can probably come up with a hundred other reasons why
young people turn to alcohol or other drugs.
Please understand, it just makes sense not to drink or to abuse
drugs. It will take away your health,
your happiness, your mind, and most importantly, your soul.
Excuses to Justify Recreational Drinking and
"The Bible only condemns drunkenness."
This is always stated by a person who hasn't actually
studied the matter. We've shown this to
"Titus 3:18 actually says deacons can have
a little wine."
"Not addicted to much wine" does not imply that a
little is okay. You cannot be addicted
to a little, anyway.
"Jesus made wine (John 2:1-11)."
The New Testament Greek word for "wine" [OINOS] is
used both for grape juice that does contain alcohol and juice that does
not. You have to determine from the
context whether or not it is alcoholic.
There is nothing in this context that would remotely suggest that Jesus
must have made intoxicating wine at this feast.
In English, we use the word "drunk" to mean both
the past tense of drink and intoxicated.
However, in the Greek, there are different words. The word PINO means simply to consume liquid;
the word METHUO means to be intoxicated.
John 2 does not state that the wedding guests became drunk (METHUO) on
the wine Jesus produced.
"Paul told Timothy to drink wine (1 Tim
Modern clinical studies show that regulated, daily
consumption of a small amount of wine containing alcohol can have some health
benefits. However, studies also show
that pure grape juice also contains chemicals that benefit the body. Therefore, we need to recognize that Paul
only may or may not be recommending alcoholic wine, specifically. However, it seems strange that Paul would
feel the need to encourage taking grape juice, and only a little, if grape
juice is already commonly used and is harmless in larger quantities. Therefore, if Timothy is thinking that
alcohol ought not be taken even medicinally by a Christian, Paul could be
clarifying that alcoholic wine, like many other drugs, has a proper use, yet it
is not to be abused, as by large quantities.
So even if intoxicating wine is the subject, we have established from
the start that drug abuse, not legitimate use, is what the Bible condemns.
We stated earlier that drinking even in small quantities is
sinful, but we observe now that a small quantity is lawful. The difference lies in the purpose. The legitimate use is for medicinal purposes;
the abuse is for the mere purpose of being sociable. The mature Christian must be very careful
about his influence. Paul warns us about
misusing our liberties (1 Cor 8:8-13). A
social gathering is not the time or place for a Christian to "take his
medicine." Others who see him
drinking might assume he is simply taking part in the merry-making. Even if his consumption is the slightest sip,
they could by his actions be tempted into excessiveness, and he would thereby
take a part in their guilt. Paul's
instruction to Timothy in no way condones social, recreational, or celebratory
"Marijuana is not addictive."
This may be true, but marijuana obviously impairs
sensibility. Clinical studies also clearly
show that continued use can cause bodily harm.
These reasons alone violate scriptural principles.
"Marijuana does not actually 'lead to doing
other drugs;' that is a myth."
The point is not that marijuana itself leads to other things
but the general interest in using drugs of any kind. If I have associated myself with someone who
will illegally sell me marijuana or smoke it with me, I am in the wrong
crowd. They will not have a good
influence on me.
And Questions For Discussion
it takes four beers to "get drunk," how drunk are you if only one
beer is consumed?
any of the word studies in this lesson deal with being only partially drunk?
drunkenness is engaged only in the privacy of my own home, how might that have
a bad effect on others not in my household?
you see any danger in drinking non-alcoholic beer out with your friends?
can drunkenness adversely effect a marriage relationship?
you think of ways television and movies have glamorized drinking?
there certain situations where drinking just a little alcohol would be okay?
is missing in the popular "drink responsibly" promotion heard today?
older young adults, when someone asks you why you're not drinking, what do you