Click here to listen to this material as a free MP3 recorded
2/3 of American kids try an illegal drug before they finish high school. If alcohol is included, the number is closer to 90% (alcohol is illegal for high-school kids).
1/3 of American kids try an illegal drug other than marijuana before they finish high school.
The leading cause of death at ages 15-24 is drunk driving. (This and all previous statistics from "Kids on Drugs," pp. 1,2.)
During the early 1990's, marijuana use among teens increased by nearly 50% or more at every age level - "The New Pot Culture," USA Weekend, 2/16-18/1996.
Much modern music, movies, and TV programs glorify illegal drugs, such as marijuana. "Today, marijuana is openly promoted at concerts, on CDs, even on clothes - sending teens a message of social acceptance..." Many specific examples are shown and cited - USA Weekend, 2/16-18/1996.
Young people at school are continually surrounded by drug users. I once asked a Bible class of public school junior high and high school students, how many personally knew people who used drugs. 7 out of 8 said they did.
School drug programs propose to help solve the problem. But nearly all of them teach situation ethics: it's up to each person whether or not to use drugs, moderate use may be all right if you don't get addicted, etc. They do not teach kids to avoid drugs, not even illegal drugs!
We are not considering drugs prescribed by a doctor for medical purposes (cf. 1 Tim. 5:23). (This is not to say that prescribed drugs can never become a problem, but discussing that problem is not the purpose of this study.) We are discussing mind-altering drugs used for social purposes (partying, peer pressure), or to escape reality, or just to enjoy the effect on the mind, etc. What about marijuana, cocaine, narcotics, LSD, hallucinogens, stimulants, sedatives, hypnotics, psychedelics, and heroin? Is such drug use moral or immoral? What does the word of God teach a Christian should believe?
Note: The following study was written primarily to
warn people - especially young people - about the dangers of drug abuse. For
those who already know the dangers of the problem and are looking for Bible information
to help the overcome it, we suggest you read our free articles about
to Change Yourself (Self-improvement) and
Can Serve God Successfully. See other helpful articles in the
links at the end of this article.
Please consider these facts:
Unless otherwise indicated, the information in this section is taken from a series of pamphlets from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Public Health Service, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Note that specific effects may vary from person to person, but we will discuss general common effects.
These stimulate the nervous system, including the brain. This mainly includes amphetamines ("speed," "uppers," "dexies," "bennies," etc.). Some people classify cocaine here, but others view it as a narcotic.
Blurred vision, sleeplessness, anxiety, moodiness, and a high (intoxication) with a false sense of self-confidence, power, and well-being.
Can produce hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not present), delusions (irrational thought), paranoia (thinking people are out to get you), or violent behavior. Overdoses can cause death.
Can cause ulcers, malnutrition, brain damage, lung disease, heart disease, stroke, or kidney disease.
Can produce dependence with a strong urge to continue use, even feeling it is necessary to function. Some take the drugs just to avoid the depression that comes when the effect wears off. Can lead to "tolerance," needing increasingly greater amounts to get the same effect.
Opposite to stimulants, these depress the nervous system, including the brain. Includes barbiturates ("barbs," "downers"). Heroin, other opiates, and marijuana are sometimes classified here.
Intoxication with slurred speech, staggering, and poor judgment and reflexes. Large doses can cause unconsciousness or death. User may become so confused he takes more drugs without realizing the consequences.
Addiction is common. Users think they must have the drug to function. Obtaining drugs becomes the main function of life. Tolerance requires greater amounts to get the same effect. Stopping causes extreme withdrawal effects (can be worse than heroin withdrawal): anxiety, convulsions, even death.
If pregnant mothers use sedatives, babies may have birth defects, behavioral problems, withdrawal symptoms.
These affect the brain causing one to lose touch with reality, seeing and hearing things not present (hallucinations). Includes LSD, mescaline, PCP, etc.
Effects are unpredictable. Rapid mood swings, loss of sense of reality, seeing and hearing unreal things; panic, confusion, anxiety. Bizarre, violent, and dangerous behavior can result (such as thinking one can fly, so he jumps off a tall building).
LSD can cause flashbacks in which the effects are repeated days or weeks after it was taken.
Possible brain damage, impaired memory, mental confusion. Dangerous acts while under the influence can lead to injury or death.
This includes derivatives of the opium plant: opium, morphine, codeine, and heroin. Some are used medically as pain relievers. Some authorities include cocaine in this category.
Intoxication or high, with a false sense of well-being. May alternate between drowsiness and alertness. Large doses can cause death.
Addiction is almost certain. Finding the drug becomes the main focus of life. Tolerance requires larger doses to get the same effect. Eventually the user needs the drug just to function and avoid withdrawal.
Similar in effect to several of the groups above, this is listed separately because it is the most commonly used drug, and some have denied it is dangerous. Also called "grass," "pot," "weed," "Mary Jane," etc., its most active ingredient is THC. Modern marijuana is ten times stronger than that of the early 70's.
A high (intoxication) with a false sense of well-being. Impairs memory, concentration, coordination, and judgment. Loss of interest or ability to do school work or job. It is as dangerous as alcohol in causing accidents, and the two taken together are especially dangerous.
Psychological dependence, difficult to limit use, tolerance (need more to get the same effect). Drug use may become the most important thing in life, may lead to problems on the job or in school or in relationships.
Other sources claim there is permanent damage to the brain, with permanent loss of willpower, memory, etc. Regular use by an expectant mother can kill the baby. Smoking damages the lungs like cigarettes do.
Use for social purposes, personal pleasure, to get a high, to escape reality, etc., is illegal.
Specifically, marijuana is illegal to sell, give away, or even possess. Possession of less than an ounce might lead to a year in prison, and possession of over an ounce can lead to several years in prison (per Ft. Wayne, Indiana, police department).
Romans 13:1-5 - God ordained governing authorities. To resist them is to resist God's ordinance. Those who disobey may be punished by the authorities, but they also have harmed their conscience toward God.
1 Peter 2:13,14 - Submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake. [Tit. 3:1]
This ought to settle the matter for every true believer. Drug abuse, including marijuana use, is illegal and therefore sinful.
Some people favor legalization of marijuana. But even if it is legalized, there are reasons Christians should not use it.
"Intoxication" is defined: "to affect temporarily with diminished control over the physical and mental powers, by means of alcoholic liquor, a drug, or other substance..." (Random House College Dictionary). Note that, if mental or physical powers are diminished, whether by alcohol or a drug, that is intoxication.
Our discussion of drug effects showed that all of them produce an artificial "high," a sense of "euphoria," a false sense of well-being, or similar change in brain function.
Consider some other quotes confirming this.
"One marijuana cigarette causes a 41% decrease in driving skills. Two cigarettes cause a 63% decrease" - "The Facts about Marijuana," Dr. Harold Voth (via Focus on the Family Newsletter, 9/81).
"Driving while stoned is as dangerous as driving while drunk, maybe more so. This fact has been proven many times over..." - Marijuana: Time for a Closer Look, Curtis Janeczek, pp. 88,89.
The First Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (1972) said regarding marijuana: "At low, usual 'social' doses, the intoxicated individual may experience an increased sense of well-being..." (via "Marijuana - It's Far from a Harmless High!," Plain Truth, 1/80, p. 28).
Note that marijuana causes intoxication even at "low, usual 'social' doses."
"The intake of 5 to 10 milligrams of delta-9-THC into the bloodstream is held to be sufficient to induce cannabis intoxication ... one can readily see that a single marijuana cigarette of the drug type is sufficient to induce a marijuana 'high'" - Marihuana Today, Russell, p. 6.
So even a single marijuana cigarette produces intoxication. And this is the mildest drug we are studying. All the others produce even greater degrees of intoxication.
Like our English word, the Greek word for "drunk" refers to "intoxication, drunkenness ... to get drunk, become intoxicated..." (Thayer).
Romans 13:12-14 - Cast off the works of darkness, walk properly, not in drunkenness. Make no provision to fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - People who are guilty of drunkenness, will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 5:11 - If a church member commits drunkenness and refuses to repent, he should be disciplined so we don't keep company with him.
Hence, whether caused by alcohol or by other drugs, intoxication violates God's word. But use of any drug we are studying, including just one marijuana cigarette, causes intoxication.
[Matt. 24:45-51; Luke 12:45; Eph. 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:6-8]
One of the main reasons why God condemns intoxication is that, as Christians we face many serious temptations. In order to distinguish right from wrong and then have the will power to resist evil, our minds must think clearly and control our bodies. The Bible calls this sobriety and self-control.
This is true of all the drugs we have studied. Consider:
"...in a typical LSD trance ... a person's inhibitions tend to disappear. This breaks down a person's will to resist" - "Drug Addiction"/"Narcotics," D.C. Parks, p. 18.
In testimony to a U.S. Senate subcommittee, Dr. Hardin Jones said regarding marijuana users: "They are easily induced into risky, impetuous and foolish behavior, such as acceptance of heroin, LSD, and other dangerous drugs, and homosexual experience, which are later regretted" - Russell, p. 28.
"...hundreds of psychiatrists ... report these personality problems common to many chronic [marijuana] users: poor memory, loss of willpower and motivation..." - Janeczek, pp. 88,89.
Note that this refers to loss of will power, not just when one is "high" or intoxicated, but between highs. This effect becomes progressively worse with continued use.
1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 - Being sober is the opposite of being drunk and is associated with being alert and watchful.
1 Peter 1:13-17 - Be sober, gird up the loins of your mind so you can avoid lusts and be obedient and holy. This requires being alert.
1 Peter 5:8,9 - Be sober so we can be on guard for the devil, resist him, and not be devoured by him. Realizing how dangerous Satan is, we should keep our minds clear so we can recognize his deceit and resist his temptations.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 - Bring our bodies into subjection to our minds, exercising temperance (self-control) like athletes in training, so our bodies will be properly guided by our minds.
Proverbs 4:23 - Keep your heart (mind) with all diligence because it must decide the issues of life.
Struggling against evil is difficult and dangerous at best, even with the clearest of faculties. That is why God has forbidden intoxication. There are other ways to violate these principles, but drug abuse is surely one way.
[2 Tim. 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:1-7; Tit. 2:2,4,6,12; Acts 24:25; Gal. 5:23; 2 Pet. 1:6]
We should not participate, to please ourselves or other people, in activities that tempt us to sin or that endanger our service to God.
Proverbs 22:3 - A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished. Instead of walking into spiritually dangerous situations, we should hide from them.
1 Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
Matthew 6:13 - We should pray for God to deliver us from evil and temptation. How can we sincerely pray this and then knowingly do things that tempt or encourage us to do evil?
Matthew 18:8,9 - We should cut off our hand or foot or eye or anything that tempts us to sin. While this is not literal, it teaches that entering eternal life and avoiding hell are so important that we should do whatever it takes to avoid sin.
Proverbs 23:17,20,21 - Specifically this principle of avoiding temptation should be applied to people who practice intoxication (drunkenness). If we want to avoid their destiny, we should not envy them or mix with them.
[Prov. 13:20; 4:14,15; 24:1,2; 1 Cor. 5:6,7; 2 Cor. 6:14-17; Heb. 12:15. Matt. 26:41; 1 Pet. 4:3,4; James 4:4; Psalm 26:5; 119:63]
The person who uses drugs generally starts because of peer pressure - he gives in to temptation from others. The more involved he becomes, the greater the temptations become and the weaker his will to resist.
"...research shows peer pressure (wanting to be part of the crowd) is the most likely reason people start using grass" - Janeczek, p. 14.
"Virtually all who became addicted to hard drugs started with marijuana, which distorted their judgment and put them into the drug scene" - Lehmann (quoted previously).
"90% of those using hard drugs such as heroin started with marijuana" - Voth.
"An early effect of marijuana and hashish use is a progressive loss of will power, ... so that marijuana users too often fall victim to hard drug pushers, extortionists, and deviates" - Dr. Franz Winkler (quoted previously).
So alcohol and cigarettes are the first step toward marijuana use. To use them is to take drugs for pleasure, so why not move on to greater "pleasure"? Users are told marijuana is harmless, friends encourage them, so they try it. They enjoy the "high" and want it more often. Then they start having problems at school, on the job, and at home, so they use it more and more to escape reality.
Then they want a bigger high. They are already using an illegal drug that weakens their judgment and inhibition, so they have removed the barriers against stronger drugs. Soon they become another drug addict statistic.
And why did it happen? Because they were not obeying God's instructions to avoid tempting situations and tempting people.
Drug users run with other drug users. They begin because of the influence of others. They attend parties where drugs are abused. They must obtain their drugs from drug pushers or friends who use drugs.
So they become companions of people who enjoy illegal activities and who rebel against parents and authority. But this kind of people will practice other sins too. So drug users are soon tempted to all kinds of sins, including:
* Lying to cover up drug use from parents, teachers, police, and other authorities. See Rev. 21:8; 1 Tim. 1:10,11; etc.
* Disobedience to parents - Most people start drug abuse while still subject to their parents' authority, knowing that their parents object. See Eph. 6:1-3; Rom. 1:30; etc. [2 Tim. 3:2]
* Failure to do ones job or schoolwork - Drug users lose interest or ability to do work or schoolwork. They become negligent, are often absent, make careless mistakes, etc. See Ecc. 9:10; Eph. 6:5-8; etc. [Tit. 2:9,10; 2 Thess. 3:10; 1 Thess. 4:11,12; Col. 3:22-24; 1 Pet. 2:18].
* Stealing - Many drug users steal to pay for their habit, especially when they cannot get a good job because they have neglected their schoolwork or their job, etc. See 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Rom. 13:8-10; etc. [Matt. 15:19,20]
* Neglect of Bible study, prayer, worship, church work, etc. People involved in drug abuse lose interest in spiritual things because they feel guilty and because they are more interested in getting high. See 1 Cor. 15:58; Matt. 6:33; etc. [Rom. 12:1,2; Heb. 10:25; Acts 17:11; Psa. 1; 1 Thess. 5:17; Matt. 16:24]
Our point is that drug abuse is wrong even before people actually begin to practice these sins, because from the beginning it tempts people toward these things. Drug abuse is a failure to avoid temptation.
This is where marijuana use can lead. And the end result follows because people fail to heed God's warning to avoid temptation and evil influence.
Proverbs 6:27,28 - Can a man take fire to his bosom and not be burned? The sensible person, who wants to please God, will avoid playing with fire.
This is true for all drugs we have discussed, when used for "recreational and social purposes." We earlier cited specific diseases, infections, and even permanent damage to the brain, heart, lungs, etc. Drugs often lead to accidents or other dangerous or even violent behavior. Many people die or are seriously injured due to overdoses. And many suffer torment from withdrawal.
Consider some further evidence, especially about marijuana:
"Marijuana smoke clearly can damage the lungs. The most recent information indicates it is more harmful than tobacco smoke ... Daily [use] ... increases a woman's risk of losing her child before birth" - Janeczek, pp. 88,89.
"...CELLS DON'T LIKE POT! Period! This is probably the best known scientific fact known about the stuff ... Marijuana is poison to cells! ... That goes for lung cells, blood cells, sperm cells, brain cells..." - Janeczek, p. 23.
"Five marijuana cigarettes a week have the same cancer causing capacity as 112 conventional cigarettes" - Voth.
Yet the people who protest nuclear energy, even for peaceful uses, are often the same people who use marijuana and want it to be legalized!
Finally, if a person moves on to the stronger drugs and becomes dependent, notice this description of withdrawal, by Henry L. Giordano, Commissioner of the Bureau of Narcotics:
It is wrong - simply to please self or others - to do things that can reasonably be expected to harm our health and lives.
Romans 12:1,2; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20 - Your body and life belong to God and are entrusted to you to use to accomplish His will. This is a stewardship. We are responsible to care for property that belongs to someone else but has been entrusted to us for a purpose. We must use that property for the purpose of the owner, not destroy it for selfish purposes. We will give account to the owner for how we used his property - Luke 12:42ff; 1 Peter 4:10; 1 Cor. 4:2.
3 John 2 - We pray for good health. Is it fair to ask God to protect our health and cure us of diseases, then turn around and selfishly practice things we know harm our health? [James 5:13; 2 Kings 20:1-7; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; 2 Sam. 12:13-23]
Matthew 25:35,36,43 - Christians should have compassion on the sick and care for them. People who knowingly harm their health for self-pleasure, are working contrary to Christian goals. Should we knowingly harm our health and then expect other Christians to have compassion on us when our habits destroy our health?
When simply for the sake of pleasing himself or his friends, a Christian participates in activities that are known to harm his health, that person has abused his stewardship and misused his God-given health. Yet this is exactly what happens when people abuse drugs.
1 Timothy 4:12 - Even in our youth, our manner of life, purity, etc., should be a good example to others.
Matthew 18:6,7 - Woe to people whose example leads other people to sin.
Matthew 5:13-16 - Our lives should be such that they lead others to give glory to God.
Ephesians 5:11 - Don't fellowship the works of darkness, but reprove them.
[1 Pet. 2:15,16; 3:16; 1 Tim. 5:22; Tit. 2:7,8; Rom. 1:32; Prov. 28:10]
Consider the drug user's influence and fellowship with the following people:
All people realize that dealing drugs is evil. It is definitely illegal. It promotes and encourages sin, causing harm and grief to many people. When you buy drugs, you share in the dealers' sin and you support him financially when you should be rebuking them. You are having direct fellowship in his sin. Note 2 John 9-11.
People almost never begin using drugs alone. They begin because they want to go along with the crowd, please others, be a part of the group, etc. Several earlier quotations establish this.
If your example encourages others to begin or to continue using drugs, you are violating the passages about influence. You are having fellowship with sin, not reproving it. You encourage people to enter sin and stay in sin, when you should be urging them to leave it.
Specifically, reformed drug addicts must completely abstain from drugs. Their first use of drugs will addict them again. If your example encourages them to return to drugs, you share in the guilt.
Christians should help sinners learn the gospel, leave their sins, and serve Christ. We should never do anything to hinder their salvation.
But a drug abuser generally doesn't care about the salvation of the lost. If he did try to teach others, his own example would turn people off so they would not listen. And if he claims to be a Christian, his example would hinder the efforts of other Christians to save lost sinners.
Instead of fulfilling God's command to be a good example and save souls, the drug abuser is a barrier to the salvation of the lost.
Many examples could be given. Consider these examples:
A 23-year-old young woman was found dead in a car in Reidesville, NC.
Her death was ruled a suicide. With her in the car was a written note saying:
"Jail didn't cure me. Nor did hospitalization help me for long. The doctor told my family it would have been better, and indeed kinder, if the person who got me hooked on dope had taken a gun and blown my brains out. And I wish to God he had. My God, how I wish it!" [I will assume this is a prayer, not a profanity.]
Also found with her was the following perverted form of Psalm 23:
"King Heroin is my shepherd. I shall always want. He
maketh me to lie down in the gutters.
"He leadeth me beside the troubled waters. He destroyeth my soul.
"He leadeth me in the paths of wickedness.
"Yea, I shall walk through the valley of poverty and will fear no evil, for thou, Heroin, are with me.
"Thy Needle and Capsule comfort me. Thou strippest the table of groceries in the presence of my family. Thou robbest my head of reason.
"My cup of sorrow runneth over. Surely heroin addiction shall stalk me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Damned forever." - "Dear Abby," Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel, 5/80.
Suicide tape of a young man on drugs:
Here is the suicide message tape recorded by a young man before he took his life.
From beginning to tragic ending, drug abuse is a tragedy and a shame. People with good judgment and devotion to God will avoid it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - God provides the means to handle any temptation or problem in life. You do not need to escape reality by means of drugs. You can avoid drugs and find your needs met in Jesus.
Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
2 Peter 1:3 - Jesus provides all things that pertain to life and godliness.
A life of drugs is a life of despair, hopelessness, guilt, sorrow, and eventual death physically and eternally. Jesus is the real answer. His way is a way of life, hope, salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.
[Psa. 138:3; Rom. 8:31-39; James 1:17; Eph. 3:20,21; 5:18]
You can be free from the chains and guilt of drug abuse. You must trust Jesus and let Him change your life.
John 8:32 - You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - The church in Corinth contained drunkards who had been washed, cleansed, and justified from their sins by Jesus.
Hebrews 5:9; 7:25 - Jesus is the author of eternal salvation, able to save to the uttermost those who turn to Him in obedience.
Matthew 11:28-30 - Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Copyright 1986, 1992, 2002, David E. Pratte
Local churches and individuals may, within limits, distribute this Bible study guide for free, but not for sale. Web sites may link to this page but not reproduce it. For details click here for our copyright guidelines.
Principles of Moral Conduct
Drinking Alcoholic Beverages
How to Change Yourself (Self-improvement)
You Can Serve God Successfully
The Importance of Bible Instruction
God Helps Your Troubles & Problems
How Can You Be Sure of Forgiveness?
Why Do We Need Forgiveness of Sins?
Anger, Controlling Your Temper
Importance of Repentance
Lying and deceitfulness
Evidences for God, Jesus, & the Bible
Photo crtedit: Christine Dela Cerna distributed under Creative Commons license, via Wikimedia Commons
Go to the Bible Study Online Library (the Gospel Way)
Free audio Bible