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  A Christian Faith Magazine July 2004, Volume 9, Issue 12  
Rev. Mark Connolly
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During the past six months, I have worked with more people involved in drug problems than during my past 30 years in the priesthood. I say this not to shock anyone, but to remind you that this problem is more serious than most adults think about. Those who are pushing drugs to the young people in this area am concerned are criminals. The young people get tired hearing about the drug problem, but the pushers never tire in searching for victims. This is a fact. Parents who are indifferent, who have their heads in the sand, the parents who feel that this is more a problem for the ghetto than any community, who justify their apathy and indifference, are, in my book accessories to the crimes that are increasing because of drugs.


Every parent can say I really don't know what to believe about drugs. Time magazine once showed how methadone clinics work and in the same article it had other medical testimony indicating it was going to create a different form of drug problem for the people on methadone. Any parent can say I don't know whether marijuana should be legalized or not, there are so many conflicting answers to the same discussion. Any parent can say I don't know whether heroin users should be treated as they are in London or treated as they are in this country.

I would like to do this is to take a few moments to forget the phrase drug culture. I would like to talk on one word associated with the problem. The word is: ADDICTION.

Just so that we know where we are going let's set the record clear. There are two kinds of addicts. The first is the compulsive, psychologically, dependent person (in alcoholic practices or drug practices) who convinced himself that he must have drugs to live, even if it means that he steals, hurts himself or hurts others to pay for this habit.

The second type is the non-compulsive, the non-pathological personality who has, through a badly formed conscience, developed the attitude that in situations of stress and strain, that in moments of panic and chaos, that in moments of depression or loneliness, that drugs are not really that bad, that they get one through the crisis, that they are the lesser of two evils.


When you talk about an individual who has become an addict, you are talking about one who has a particular bent of mind to do something of his own choosing. Freud called it the pleasure principle versus reason. If he is an alcoholic, he has done his own thing by liquor. If he is a drug personality, he has chosen his thing by way of narcotics. No matter who he is, or how you look at him, he is basically a person who has indulged himself. He is one who has set his personality pleasure above all other considerations. Often such people when you come right down to it, are chronically selfish, self-centered and self-indulgent, no matter what the cost might be to others.

To the young people who are reading this, I would like to offer these suggestions, three in all, to you. What can you do for yourself to avoid becoming an addict? You have to keep in mind that any addiction is often the result of a person who has not properly formed his conscience, who has preferred to be undisciplined than structured. He has developed a Putty-like conscience. To offset this you must get a sense of dignity of your own worth in the eyes of God, and in your own eyes. Any person who has succumbed to drugs can look back years from now and say, I took drugs because I couldn't stand my parents, because I didn't want to stay in the rat race, you can blame the over population problem, the pollution problem, the ecology problem and you can justify this form of thinking. But long before an addict has copped out on society, he has copped out on his conscience. When you start to peal away from your conscience all the excuses that we find to justify our misconduct, it comes down to the plain fact that the addict indulged himself in something that was too powerful for his personality. There comes a time in the life of every addict when he had to admit that he was too weak to form a right conscience. If you have a parent in your family who has a chronic problem with alcohol, you might hear him blame his family, his job, his state in life-and you don't believe it either when he gives off these excuses. When you run out of things to blame, you have to look to yourself. You still have freedom to chose and free will to act.

A second thought that I would like to pass on to any young person is that any addiction creates more problems than it solves. It doesn't become the panacea, the utopia, the remedy, the nirvana that you thought it would be. When you read the incidents of D. Bonhoeffer in the concentration camps in Germany, he marveled at the prisoners who were just one degree away from death. The German soldiers would come along and offer them drugs to help them forget their hardships and the prisoners refused. They worked on the principle that their lives, even though in great difficulty, had meaning and value. To take drugs would be a form of suicide.

The third point I would like to stress is that any addiction makes you less a person in control of yourself. God has given to everyone five, two, or one talents. The talent to keep yourself in control of yourself. If God has given you only one talent and that talent is to walk away from friends and peers who are boasting about their joints, the pot they smoke, the fixes they have, the variety of uppers and downers, if that is the talent that God has given you to spot these people and avoid what they are doing, then you who walk away are giving honor and glory to God. The stronger their boast, the less their control of themselves. You are in the sight of God, a son in a million. Most addicts feel that they don't have to account to anyone for what they do or the way they live. When God gave the commandment that tells us, thou shall not kill--he was saying to the addict, you have no right to take the life that I have given you. Every teenager must remind himself, God brought you to this earth. You alone are responsible for the life God has given you. He didn't give you this gift of life so that you could abuse it.


To any person who is an addict either by way of liquor or drugs, I appeal to you to remember that your life and the lives of other is sacred in the sight of God. In the form of human life he has given us the pearl of great price. I ask you to remember that at the heart of the drug culture problem is the one word, addiction. At the present it is the cancer of any community. I ask you to pray for every person, especially the young, that one day God will be able to say of them, Well done good and faithful servants, you are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.

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