There is not anyone around here who doesn’t realize that there is a drug abuse epidemic in the coal fields in general and Logan County in particular. Everyone seems to have their own ideas about what to do about it. Many of the ideas are good. We have a drug task force that does a great job catching those distributing illicit drugs; we have a drug court in several of the coal field counties; there is a drug rehabilitation facility for men in downtown Logan; we have a judicial system that understands that substance addiction and abuse is the primary cause of crime and are somewhat sympathetic to the problems that come from addictive thinking. It is skewed thinking that leads to bad behavior. The jail is filled with men and women who made poor choices that seemed like a good idea at the time. They were not. Had they taken the time to think things through, and considered the likely consequences, they may have tried something else, hopefully something better. Addiction leads to bad thinking, then bad behavior.
In spite of enforcement’s best efforts and the courts attempt to get addicts the help they need, which often includes putting them in jail for a time, we are losing the battle against the drug epidemic. Colorado has passed the legalization of marijuana, which has, and is, creating its own set of problems. Legalization is not likely the solution either. The reality is that we have two issues that we don’t seem to be able — or perhaps willing — to understand: as long as people want to get high, there will be people willing to sell them what they need to get high. It’s called supply and demand. It’s true in business, and it’s true in crime/addiction. As long as too many people are making too much money selling drugs illegally, and as long as there are people willing to throw away the one life God gave them by abusing drugs, the problem will continue.
The real problem is not the drugs; they are only a symptom. The real problem is spiritual. I did not say religious; I said spiritual. Too much religion can be as big a problem as any other abuse. We have enough religious nuts in the world already! But being spiritual fills a person’s heart and mind with something that brings purpose and meaning to that individual’s life. NA and AA call it a “Higher Power.” Some might even use the word “God.” What we’ve done as a society is to relegate the divine to a religious service and kicked Him out of every other facet of our culture. He is not allowed in our schools; you can’t talk about Him at work; the universities have said He doesn’t exist, instead having us believe everything just happened over billions of years. And don’t get me started on the federal government. What we’ve done with all that is created a vacuum, and as we know, when there is a vacuum, something will always rush in and fill it. After all, if there is no God, what difference does anything make? Who is to say what is right or wrong? Your ideas are as good, or as bad, as anybody else’s, so why not just “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” The God “vacuum” has been replaced by the pursuit of pleasure (hedonism) to the point of a society that has lost its collective mind. We’re entertaining ourselves to death. Drugs are a big part of that pleasure problem. Unless and until we recognize that drugs are only a symptom of an empty life, and begin filling lives with something more substantial and fulfilling, the drug abuse problem will continue.
Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Addiction of any kind does not bring an abundant life; it brings misery and suffering for the addict, his family and society. I’m not naïve enough to believe this problem will be solved easily or swiftly. It will not! But let’s not any of us be naïve enough to think that we won’t keep getting what we’ve been getting if we only keep on doing what we’ve been doing! Law enforcement, jail time, rehabilitation and even the prospect of death will not solve the epidemic: only the addition of something (Someone) bigger than ourselves will lead us to victory!
— Tim Secrist is pastor of the Crooked Creek Church of Christ. He can be reached at 304-752-3957 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Crooked Creek Church of Christ is a member of the Logan Ministerial Association.