In a household survey in 1988 the question was asked, “Have you used drugs or alcohol within the past 30 days?” Among the 12- to 17-year olds who answered the survey five million admitted to using alcohol. 1.2 million said they had smoked marijuana and 400,000 said they had inhaled substances such as glue and cleaning fluid. Nearly a quarter of a million said they had used cocaine or the more deadly drug of “crack.” The survey showed that nearly two million young people are regular users of illegal drugs. The source of this information is Better Homes and Gardens, February 1990. The article also notes that many of the youthful drug users are unable to control their intake of alcohol.
Do children of members of the church fall into this statistic? Are you sure? Drug using youths are from just about every walk of life. Paul Krantz, the author of the article, “Is Your Child Hooked on Drugs or Alcohol?” wrote, “No region of the country is immune, nor are suburban and rural kids left out.” In your own area, where your work, where your children play and attend school some vulturous individual is just waiting to get your children hooked on drugs.
There is also a problem at the university level. Illegal drugs and legal alcohol are freely circulated among a large section of the university students. University students make a rather lucrative business selling “Look alike” drugs to university freshmen. These drugs are purchased from a quack pharmaceutical company and palmed off on unsuspecting thrill seekers. Freshmen university students are duped into thinking they were getting the “real thing.” The “look alikes” are just about as dangerous as the real thing. Both produce a psychological dependency.
The problem is real. Our young people are not immune. More of them than we would like to think may be more deeply involved in drugs and alcohol than we imagine. How do you know your children are not involved in some sort of illegal drug abuse? According to Krantz there are tell tale signs. Here are some “danger signs” to look for:
1. Degeneration of relationships. Your child begins ignoring or being abusive to other members of the family. Old friends are forsaken.
2. Grades go down. If your child becomes negligent in doing homework, begins cutting classes at school, and drops out of various social activities he/she may be having a problem with drugs.
3. Personal appearance is neglected. You can begin to be concerned when your child shows no interest at all in his or her personal appearance.
4. Increased secrecy. Your child may keep you out of his or her plans; never tell you who their friends are or where they spend their time when away from home and school.
5. Altered behavior. The child may not sleep as well or as long, or on the other hand, sleep longer, eat less and have less energy. 6. Finally — “Tell tale” eyes. The pupils of the eyes may be wide open or pinpoint in size and the whites of the eyes become bloodshot. Also, a youth engaged in drug usage will develop a dull, glazed stare.
Remember, our children are in school, at play, at work, and in various other activities with the average youth of the community. The statistics show that some of our young people will be affected.
What Not To Do:
Don’t think, “My child could not possibly be involved in anything like that.” Or, if you do determine that your child has been dabbling in drugs or alcohol, above all, don’t accept your child’s word that he or she won’t ever do it again. Psychologist Michael Peck, Ph.D. from Los Angeles noted that when parents just “let it go by” they gravely err. “That’s a big mistake,” he said, “Kids will say anything to put off their parents: ‘I’ve only done it a couple of times with my friends,’ or ‘I’ll never do it again’ are common forms of denial’.” It is hard to think that our own flesh and blood would deliberately lie to us, but we must not allow filial affection to overrule true love for our offspring.
Don’t try to be too understanding. Listen to what Cheryl Rugg, director of child and adolescent services at De Paul Hospital in Milwaukee said. “Be angry. Get upset. Make it a memorable occasion.” She argued that “Too many parents of drug and alcohol users try to accept and understand.” Rugg urges stiff punishments as the best of all remedies. She is an expert in this field. From removal of privileges to very stiff, even harsh penalties, Rugg says a parent who is truly concerned about effectively extricating their child from drug abuse must be very strong.
What To Do
If you determine your child has been involved in drug use there are several things you can do. First, you can ask God for the help you will need and the wisdom to see your role as parent completely through (James 1:5-8). Consult the word of God for instruction as to how to rebuke your child for such sinful conduct (2 Tim. 4:1-4). Make the child aware that there is more at stake than wrecking his or her physical body (Luke 12:4-8). There is the loss of the soul that is far more serious. Drunkenness is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). “Sorcery,” is a work of the flesh. Sorcery comes from a Greek term that sounds very much like pharmacy. It “primarily signified the use of medicine, drugs, spells; then poisoning; then, sorcery… In sorcery, the use of drugs, whether simple or potent was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers, with the provision of various charms, amulets, etc., professedly designed to keep the applicant or patient from the attention and power of demons, but acutely to impress the applicant with mysterious resources and powers of the sorcerer.” (W.E. Vine). The use of drugs for any other than medicinal purposes is a sin that will bar one from heaven.
Ask for help from qualified brothers and sisters in the church. Possibly there is someone who has experience in counseling others relative to substance abuse. The most available help is offered by Alcoholics Anonymous and similar organizations. Here are some of the sources of help listed in the article.
Alcohol and Drug Helpline for referrals. (800-821-4357. Open 24 hours a day.)
National Drug Information and Referral Line. (800-662-4357. Open 9 am to 3 am EST Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 3 am. Referrals to local treatment and support groups, counseling via telephone.)
National Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education. (800 241-7946. Open 8:30 am to 5 pm EST Monday to Friday. A computer answers at all other times, offering information via touch-tone phones. Information and referrals.)
Parents must be good observers of their children’s conduct and companions. Krantz noted, “Parents must also be aware of factors that predispose kids to experiment: depression, a family history of alcohol or drug abuse, a home wracked by conflict, poor school performance, or a child who feels like a social outcast.” Furthermore, the signs listed earlier can and should be learned well. They could save a multitude of problems later. Finally, the best thing is prevention. Krantz concluded, “Prevention, obviously, is the ideal solution to drug and alcohol abuse. But by never assuming that your child is abuse-proof, you’ll remain on guard and ready to act should the worst happen in your family.” Christians should key in on the important word — family.
There is no better procedure than keeping in close touch as a family. A close, caring, family will serve as support to each other. Art Linkletter, who experienced great personal tragedy in his family, wrote: “No matter how much time you have been spending with your kids, try to spend more. Do more things together. Talk to them more — around the dinner table, when you’re driving somewhere, whenever they seem receptive. This is not easy. You can’t suddenly announce, ‘Now we’re going to talk about drug abuse!’ and expect to get anywhere. Start slowly. Express interest in an aspect of the child’s life, and then listen.” Reader’s Digest, February 1970.
Open and frank discussions within the family of the dangers and evils associated with the use of alcohol or narcotics will pay huge dividends. Love for our own demands a demonstration of positive correction. Correction means more than just stopping the sin involved. It means bearing the loads that come as a result of your child’s having sinned (I Peter 4:8). It takes work, faith, love and perseverance, but our children’s futures both in this life and that which is to come are at stake. It is fitting to remember more of Art Linkletter’s words.
“The hour is late, but it is not too late. I think we can still win the battle. God help us if we can’t.”