Why do people take drugs? Users range from executives with a $500,000-a-year income to your son or daughter. What's the motivating factor?
IT'S TIME for some straight talk. We are in the midst of a social revolution that is virtually out of control. A recently released survey by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) now discloses an "astounding" rise in the consumption of marijuana by young adults. The survey uncovered the fact that two out of three Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 have smoked the drug and fully one third of that figure have tried hallucinogens, cocaine or heroin. We are not talking about tens or hundreds. This survey shows that multiple millions of young adults, the people that used to be referred to as "the leaders of tomorrow," have extensively sampled substances classified by the U.S. government as narcotic — dangerous material. According to secretary Patricia Harris of Health and Human Services (HHS), concern and fear over the tremendous rise in illegal (and dangerous) drug use are "well-founded." Grotesquely, officials in the NIDA say "the survey probably underestimates drug use to some extent." Chances are, even though you may not have realized it, you probably are somewhat familiar with drug users. Ever watch professional basketball? Recent investigative action has shown that cocaine is a mainstay in the hotel rooms and homes of several professional basketball players. The players assert they "need" the substance to relax from high-paced schedules. To some, this is no big matter. The basketball players are simply joining a long list of historic cocaine users that includes Sigmund Freud, Pope Leo XIII, President William McKinley and Thomas Edison. Not to mention executives of large corporations, movie and music celebrities and others of material wealth adequate to afford the white flaky substance.
The "It Doesn't Affect Me" Syndrome
If you're one of the increasingly diminishing uninitiated insofar as drugs are concerned, this may seem distant and unrelated to your life. But if you think about it, drugs probably strike closer to you than you realize. You're driving home on the freeway. As you casually glance at the small sports car passing you, your gaze is suddenly frozen at the sight of a well-dressed woman "toking" on a short, colorful hash pipe. Ever walk through a park and see a group of teenage kids with blaring radios making a general, but seemingly harmless, nuisance of themselves. That smell of burning leaves wafting through the air is probably the remnant of charred weed expelled through teenage lungs. Yes, the drug culture, once generally thought to be confined to a small group of people labeled "hippies," has now grown to massive proportions in our society. The movement toward drug abuse has grown to the point where recently a judge and lawyer husband-wife team were implicated for growing marijuana on their property, and an adviser to the President of the United States had to step down from his official capacity for prescribing a powerful tranquilizer in an illegal fashion. As this all serves to illustrate, we are a society nearly gone mad. However, if you are one that embraces the illicit use of drugs, current trends may be rather pleasing. Richard Ashley, the author of a highly respected book on cocaine, urges that "illicit drugs should be legalized and controlled in the way alcohol is regulated." Officials of the U.S. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) echo these sentiments: "[The NIDA] survey is just another in a long line that shows marijuana is here to stay in our society... sales [of marijuana] could be regulated just like liquor and tobacco." Despite appeals and stepped-up government programs against abuse, increasing numbers of people are turning to drugs. There is a reason! In spite of the unknown — of high risks, financial rip-offs and a whole host of other unpleasantries — we continue to see drug abuse rise. We ask, why the need for drugs?
An extremely wise man who lived almost 3,000 years ago experienced some of the things that encourage people to use drugs. Performing a classic experiment where he toyed and experimented with every pleasure known to man, Solomon — the king of Israel — found himself up against a pitiless, impassable brick wall. "Nothing," he wrote in conclusion of his experiment, "in this world is worthwhile" (Ecclesiastes 2:11-12, Moffatt translation). Probably one of the richest men on earth at the time, Solomon spared no expense in testing all the material items of this world : he built incredible mansions, developed farms and orchards that exceed the imagination; he surrounded himself with playthings, beautiful women, and slaves for every purpose; he put together large orchestras to play at his command; he continued on saying: "Nothing I coveted did I deny myself" (Ecclesiastes 2:10, Moffatt). The conclusion? "But when I turned to look at all I had achieved and at my toil and trouble, then it was all vain and futile" (Ecclesiastes 2:11). The result? "So I hated life; for all that goes on under the sun seemed evil to me, all of it vain and futile" (Ecclesiastes 2:17-18). An incredible statement by a man God says was the wisest who ever lived! Unfortunately, many of us never learn this lesson : artificial props like materialism, illicit drug use and efforts turned inward produce emptiness, frustration and unhappiness. If you go back through the cases of drug abuse you will see in many instances seemingly normal people who, for some reason or another, tried to fill a vacuum in their lives artificially. The fact is that drugs do succeed somewhat in numbing the pain of emptiness! If you have no goal, no purpose — or worse yet, your goals and purposes have been frustrated — the natural emotional reaction is to become depressed or anxious. Psychiatrists like Dr. Victor Frankel recognize the desire and hunger for meaning in life as man's basic motivation. When this desire is frustrated or crushed, the person finds himself in a crisis. He comes up against the same wall of uncompromising truth that Solomon did. Now this void of emptiness may not of itself push the individual over into his first joint of marijuana. But it creates a fertile bed that is very accommodating when tempted by peer pressure or other elements of society.
The Real Reason
So the basic underlying cause of drug abuse can be seen — society itself creates the situation. Our society does not teach people how to cope positively with crisis. It does provide the means by which anybody can obtain short term relief from the emotions and feelings that accompany futility. Do you enjoy a glass of wine or a couple of bottles of beer? Moreover — be honest — do you enjoy the feeling of lightheadedness that a few ounces of alcohol bring? Or how about the relaxing feeling brought about by a couple of cigarettes? Chances are — you would enjoy taking certain drugs. The truth is, freed from inhibitions, you would probably like the warm, euphoric sensations resulting from a couple of "tokes" on some marijuana. Plus, you might enjoy the "pleasure" of performing an illegal act. Striking back at "big brother" who says you can't have your fun — you can take authority to yourself — propping up a sagging ego. Author Richard Ashley claims that instead of curtailing the use of illicit drugs, statutes against use actually "actively promote it." What a tragedy! Further, trying to "scare" teenagers and young adults into abstaining from drugs is not proving fruitful. As a result of the NIDA's findings, Secretary Harris has ordered government programs against drugs to increase their intensity. Most teenagers know the line of educators, "Drugs will kill you!" Unfortunately, drug abuse is so widespread that sooner or later, the teenager (or young adult) will come under peer pressure to sample marijuana. You may know the feeling — the uneasy knot of fear as you succumb to taunts and inhale smoke from your first joint — hoping against hope that the educators are wrong and you won't be harmed. After a few puffs you are amazed that your heart is still pumping, you still have control over your body — but better yet, you now have this great feeling of drug-induced happiness. And the credibility of the educators drops to zero. Next time, you hear the same educators speaking about the dangers of PCP, a drug that has caused documented cases of permanent psychosis. You compare notes with your friends and dismiss the warnings as more propaganda — possibly with fatal consequences to you. And this scenario is repeated hundreds of times every day! Clearly then, man can't treat drug abuse by passing stricter laws or paying educators to preach about its evils. That's treating the effect — not the cause. The fact is that several people who preach against drugs actually use them! One consultant in a state educational agency told me about widespread use — to the point where roughly 25 percent of the paid professional staff smoked pot regularly! "How can you cope without drugs?" she asked seriously. "Nobody cares — who can offer me anything better?" And there you have it. Always looking promising, drugs are a classic temptress. But in the end come the feelings of loneliness, cheapness, terrible emptiness, depression. Artificial props, drugs are the milestones of a society collapsing on itself. Instead of new programs, what's really needed is a change in the society itself! We need an order that gives people the tools to positively deal with crises. A society that offers a life so fulfilling and exciting as to make drug abuse a weak, unwanted alternative. As you have seen, our present societies foster and promote the use of illicit drugs. To bring about a solution to the problem of drug abuse, — the elements that cause it must be eradicated!
Man will not bring about the environment that eclipses depression and loneliness — but God will! The Bible is literally full of the prediction of a new society, a new government that will offer an alternative to drugs. Even hardcore addicts will find this society a healing one! Listen to God's solution! After God sets up His society, this is what you'll see: "... the ransomed [released from bondage] of the Lord shall return... with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isaiah 35:10). Can you imagine it? These people — you and I — will rejoice because the source of despondency — the root of depression — will be removed! The new society will be one that teaches people to be fruitful and happy. People will practice a "give" way of life that will make drugs unnecessary and unwanted. The "get" way that makes man turn inward, toward a selfish means, will be completely replaced, through the Spirit of God, by the "give" way. Would you like to know more about man's potential and the new society? Read our free booklets Why Were You Born? and The Wonderful World Tomorrow. They will show you what lies just ahead for man!