17 Adar, 5761
Revelation 9:21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries (5331), nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament
5331 pharmakeia; from 5332; medication ("pharmacy"), i.e. (by extension) magic (literally or figuratively):--sorcery, witchcraft
5332 pharmakeus; from pharmakon (a drug, i.e. spell-giving potion); a druggist ("pharmacist") or poisoner, i.e. (by extension) a magician:--sorcerer.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft (5331), hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Revelation 9:21 Nor did they turn from their murdering, their misuse of drugs in connection with the occult, their sexual immorality or their stealing. (Jewish New Testament, David Stern)
Misuse of drugs in connection with the occult. Greek pharmakeia, usually translated "sorceries," "witchcraft" or "magic arts," is here rendered by this longer phrase in order to focus on the fact that using potions and drugs is an essential part of the word's meaning--as is clear from the derived English words "pharmaceuticals" and "pharmacy." The usual renderings suggest to many people a setting so removed from the fabric of their lives that the text does not speak to them. The reason I employ this lengthy expression is that the Jewish New Testament is a product of the 1980s, when the Western world has seen an explosion of drug abuse, and I want readers to understand that this subject is dealt with in the Bible.
Spiritually speaking, there are four distinct categories of drug misuse: (1) taking drugs in order to explore spiritual realms, (2) taking drugs in order to engage in "sorcery, witchcraft and magic arts" while under their influence, (3) giving drugs to other people in order to gain control over them, which is another form of "sorcery, witchcraft and magic arts," and (4) taking drugs for pleasure. The last is a misuse because the drugs in question--beside whatever temporary enjoyment they provide, and apart from their adverse medical and psychological effects--open a person to supernatural or spiritual experiences; but these experiences are almost always demonic and not from God, since the Holy One of Israel reveals himself through his Word (Rom 1:16-17, 10:8-17), not through drugs. (Jewish New Testament Commentary, David Stern)
Chapter 10: Drugs, Imagination, and the Occult
The religious use of mind-altering drugs has a long history going back to the Oracle at Delphi and beyond…These substances ushered the users into another dimension inhabited by the “spirits” that empowered and guided them. Because it has been traditionally “sacred” to them, native American Indians have had the right (under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act) to take peyote for religious purposes—unless they were on active duty with the armed forces. That restriction has now been removed provided certain guidelines are followed.
Medical science has increased the average lifespan remarkably, for which we are all grateful. It cannot, however, escape responsibility for the discovery, proliferation, and oversubscription of drugs. We are an evil and unrepentant society, and (just as the Bible foretells for the last days) a large part of that evil is due to drugs…Even young children are being caught in the drug web. If Johnny misbehaves, mother increases his Ritalin dose; and to keep herself on an even keel, she takes Prozac. A large percentage of Americans no longer know how to stand up to adversity and thereby develop strength of character. Instead of facing their problems and working through to a solution, they insist upon a wonder drug to assist them with every difficulty.
Psychiatrist Peter Breggin, a leading expert on psychoactive drugs:
The biochemical imbalance theory has replaced Freud's psychological theory as the most widely accepted explanation for emotional pain and suffering. Freud's theory in turn had replaced more religious and philosophical explanations, such as original sin, the devil, and moral degeneracy…The biochemical imbalance theory is merely the latest biopsychiatric speculation, presented to the public as a scientific truth…
The awesome implications of tempering with the brain are not generally being faced by the medical profession or told to the public. All psychiatric drugs produce their effect by causing brain dysfunction. The same drugs which American psychiatrists prescribe for treatment were used by Soviet psychiatrists for torture.
[This book is an excellent resource for all facets of the words "sorcery," and "witchcraft" in the Bible. Please see the BPR Reference Guide for more info.]
In the 1960s, the drug culture became a part of American society. But what was once the pastime of Timothy Leary's disciples and the habit of poverty-stricken junkies went mainline to the middle class. A culture that once lived in the safe world of Ozzie and Harriet awoke to the stark realization that even their son Ricky used cocaine.
The statistics are staggering. The average age of first alcohol use is 12, and the average age of first drug use is 13. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 93 percent of all teenagers have some experience with alcohol by the end of their senior year of high school, and 6 percent drink daily. Almost two-thirds of all American young people try illicit drugs before they finish high school. One out of sixteen seniors smokes marijuana daily, and 20 percent have done so for at least a month sometime in their lives. But Americans have changed their minds about drugs. A Gallup poll released on the 20th anniversary of Woodstock showed that drugs, once an integral part of the counterculture, are considered to be the number-one problem in America. Two decades before, young people tied drugs to their "search for peace, love and good times." But by 1989, Americans associated drugs with "danger, crime and despair." A similar conclusion could be found among the nation's teenagers. A Gallup poll of 500 teens found that 60 percent said concern over drug abuse was their greatest fear--outranking fear of AIDS, alcohol, unemployment, and war.
Nationwide surveys indicate that about 90 percent of the nation's youth experiment with alcohol--currently teenagers' drug of choice. An annual survey conducted by the University of Michigan has revealed that over 65 percent of the nation's seniors currently drink, and about 40 percent reported a heavy drinking episode within the two weeks prior to the survey.
Types of Drugs
Alcohol is the most common drug used and abused. It is an intoxicant that depresses the central nervous system and can lead to a temporary loss of control over physical and mental powers. The signs of drunkenness are well known: lack of coordination, slurred speech, blurred vision, and poor judgment.
The amount of alcohol in liquor is measured by a "proof rating." For example, 45 percent pure alcohol would be 90-proof liquor. A twelve-ounce can of beer, four ounces of wine, and a one-shot glass of 100-proof liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol.
In recent years, debate has raged over whether alcoholism is a sin or a sickness. The Bible clearly labels drunkenness a sin (Deut. 21:20-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-20), but that does not mitigate against the growing physiological evidence that certain people's biochemistry makes them more prone to addiction.
The social costs of alcohol are staggering. Alcoholism is the third largest health problem (following heart disease and cancer). There are an estimated 10 million problem drinkers in the American adult population and an estimated 3.3 million teenage problem drinkers. Half of all traffic fatalities and one-third of all traffic injuries are alcohol-related. Alcohol is involved in 67 percent of all murders and 33 percent of all suicides.
Alcohol is also a prime reason for the breakdown of the family. High percentages of family violence, parental abuse and neglect, lost wages, and divorce are tied to the abuse of alcohol in this country. In one poll on alcohol done for Christianity Today by George Gallup, nearly one-fourth of all Americans cited alcohol and/or drug abuse as one of the three reasons most responsible for the high divorce rate in this country.
Marijuana is produced from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa), which grows well throughout the world. Marijuana has been considered a "gateway drug" because of its potential to lead young people to experiment with stronger drugs such as heroin and cocaine. In 1978, an alarming 10 percent of all high-school seniors smoked marijuana every day. Although that percentage has dropped significantly, officials still estimate that about one-third of all teenagers have tried marijuana.
Marijuana is an intoxicant that is usually smoked in order to induce a feeling of euphoria lasting two to four hours. Physical effects include an increase in heart rate, bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth and throat, and increased appetite.
Marijuana can impair or reduce short-term memory and comprehension. It can reduce one's ability to perform tasks requiring concentration (such as driving a car). Marijuana can also produce paranoia and psychosis.
Because most marijuana users inhale unfiltered smoke and hold it in their lungs for as long as possible, it causes damage to the lungs and pulmonary system. Marijuana smoke also has more cancer-causing agents than tobacco smoke. Marijuana also interferes with the immune system and reduces the sperm count in males.
Cocaine occurs naturally in the leaves of coca plants and was reportedly chewed by natives in Peru as early as the sixth century. It became widely used in beverages (like Coca-Cola) and medicines in the nineteenth century but was restricted in 1914 by the Harrison Narcotics Act.
Some experts estimate that more than 30 million Americans have tried cocaine. Government surveys suggest there may be as many as 6 million regular users. Every day some 5,000 neophytes sniff a line of coke for the first time.
When the popularity of cocaine grew in the 1970s, most snorted cocaine and some dissolved the drug in water and injected it intravenously. Today the government estimates more than 300,000 Americans are intravenous cocaine users.
In recent years, snorting cocaine has given way to smoking it. Snorting cocaine limits the intensity of the effect because the blood vessels in the nose are constricted. Smoking cocaine delivers a much more intense high. Smoke goes directly to the lungs and then to the heart. On the next heartbeat, it is on the way to the brain. Dr. Anna Rose Childress at the University of Pennsylvania notes that "you can become compulsively involved with snorted cocaine. We have many Hollywood movie stars without nasal septums to prove that." But when cocaine is smoked "it seems to have incredibly powerful effects that tend to set up a compulsive addictive cycle more quickly than anything that we've seen."
Cocaine is a stimulant and increases heart rate, restricts blood vessels, and stimulates mental awareness. Users say it is an ego- builder. Along with increased energy comes a feeling of personal supremacy: the illusion of being smarter, sexier, and more competent than anyone else. But while the cocaine confidence makes users feel indestructible, the crash from cocaine leaves them depressed, paranoid, and searching for more.
Until recently, people speaking of cocaine dependence never called it an addiction. Cocaine's withdrawal symptoms are not physically wrenching like those of heroin and alcohol. Yet cocaine involves compulsion, loss of control, and continued use in spite of the consequences.
Cocaine users also describe its effect in sexual terms. Its intense and sensual effect makes it a stronger aphrodisiac than sex itself. Research at UCLA with apes given large amounts of cocaine showed they preferred the drug to food or sexual partners and were willing to endure severe electric shocks in exchange for large doses. The cocaine problem in this country has been made worse by the introduction of crack: ordinary coke mixed with baking soda and water into a solution and heated. This material is then dried and broken into tiny chunks that resemble rock candy. Users usually smoke these crack rocks in glass pipes.
Crack (so-called because of the cracking sound it makes when heated) has become the scourge of the war on drugs. A single hit of crack provides an intense, wrenching rush in a matter of seconds. Because crack is absorbed rapidly through the lungs and hits the brain within seconds, it is the most dangerous form of cocaine and also the most addicting.
Another major difference is not physiological but economic. According to Dr. Mark Gold, founder of the nationwide cocaine hotline, the cost to an addict using crack is one-tenth the cost he would have paid for the equivalent in cocaine powder just a decade ago. Since crack costs much less than normal cocaine, it is particularly appealing to adolescents. About one in five 12th graders has tried cocaine, and that percentage is certain to increase because of the price and availability of crack.
The drug of choice during the 1960s was LSD. People looking for the "ultimate trip" would take LSD or perhaps peyote and experience bizarre illusions and hallucinations.
In the last few decades, these hallucinogens have been replaced by PCP (Phencyclidine), often known as "angel dust" or "killer weed." First synthesized in the 1950s as an anesthetic, PCP was discontinued because of its side effects but is now manufactured illegally and sold to thousands of teenagers.
PCP is often sprayed on cigarettes or marijuana and then smoked. Users report a sense of distance and estrangement. PCP creates body-image distortion, dizziness, and double vision. The drug distorts reality in such a way that it can resemble mental illness. Because the drug blocks pain receptors, violent PCP episodes may result in self-inflicted injuries.
Chronic PCP users have persistent memory problems and speech difficulties. Mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and violent behavior, are also reported. High doses of PCP can produce a coma that can last for days or weeks.
The latest scourge in the drug business has been so-called designer drugs. These synthetic drugs, manufactured in underground laboratories, mimic the effects of commonly abused drugs. Since they were not even anticipated when our current drug laws were written, they exist in a legal limbo, and their use is increasing. One drug is MDMA, also know as "Ecstasy." It has been called the "LSD of the '80s" and gives the user a cocaine-like rush with a hallucinogen euphoria. Ecstasy was sold legally for a few years despite National Institute on Drug Abuse fears that it could cause brain damage. In 1985 the DEA outlawed MDMA, although it is still widely available.
Other drugs have been marketed as a variation of the painkillers Demerol and Fentanyl. The synthetic variation of the anesthetic Fentanyl is considered more potent than heroin and is known on the street as "synthetic heroin" and "China White."
Designer drugs may become a growth industry in the '90s. Creative drug makers in clandestine laboratories can produce these drugs for a fraction of the cost of smuggled drugs and with much less hassle from law enforcement agencies.
Some people may believe that the Bible has little to say about drugs, but this is not so. First, the Bible has a great deal to say about the most common and most abused drug--alcohol. Scripture admonishes Christians not to be drunk with wine (Eph. 5:18) and calls drunkenness a sin (Deut. 21:20-21; Amos 6:1; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-20). The Bible also warns of the dangers of drinking alcohol (Prov. 20:1; Isaiah 5:11; Hab. 2:15-16), and, by implication, the dangers of taking other kinds of drugs.
Second, drugs were an integral part of many ancient Near East societies. For example, the pagan cultures surrounding the nation of Israel used drugs as part of their religious ceremonies. Both the Old Testament and New Testament condemn sorcery and witchcraft. In those days, drug use was tied to sorcery (the word translated "sorcery" comes from the Greek word from which we get the English words pharmacy and pharmaceutical). Drugs were prepared by a witch or shaman. They were used to enter into the spiritual world by inducing an altered state of consciousness that allowed demons to take over the mind of the user. In our day, many use drugs merely for so-called recreational purposes, but we cannot discount the occult connection.
Galatians 5:19-21 says:
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft [which includes the use of drugs]; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The word witchcraft here is also translated "sorcery" and refers to the use of drugs. The Apostle Paul calls witchcraft associated with drug use a sin. The non-medical use of drugs is considered one of the acts of a sinful nature. Using drugs, whether to "get a high" or to tap into the occult, is one of the acts of a sinful nature where users demonstrate their depraved and carnal nature. The psychic effects of drugs should not be discounted. A questionnaire designed by Charles Tate and sent to users of marijuana documented some disturbing findings. In his article in Psychology Today he noted that one-fourth of the marijuana users who responded to his questionnaire reported that they were taken over and controlled by an evil person or power during their drug-induced experience. And over half of those questioned said they have experienced religious or "spiritual" sensations in which they met spiritual beings.
Many proponents of the drug culture have linked drug use to spiritual values. During the 1960s, Timothy Leary and Alan Watts referred to the "religious" and "mystical" experience gained through the use of LSD (along with other drugs) as a prime reason for taking drugs. (1993)
March 12, 2001
March 12 — As the Academy Award-nominated film Traffic has America debating the toll of substance abuse, a new report out calls it "the nation's number one health problem," with a quarter of all deaths attributable to alcohol, drugs or tobacco.
Substance abuse costs American society more than $410 billion per year, according to the report's analysis of health care and justice records, its lead author says.
There also are social costs: Roughly half of all serious crimes are committed by people under the influence, the report finds, citing prison surveys and data on arrests.
The compendium of existing studies and statistics by researchers at Brandeis University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J., is intended as a central database with which to compare future studies, and intentionally leaves the drawing of most conclusions to the reader, its authors say.
According to the study, 52 percent of eighth graders have consumed alcohol, 41 percent have smoked cigarettes and 20 percent have used marijuana. And, it says, such young users are less aware than adults to the risks of substance abuse and are more likely to have more serious problems with it later in life.
CASA REPORT: IN 1998 STATES SPENT $81.3 BILLION--13 PERCENT OF BUDGETS—TO DEAL WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Of Each $1 Spent, 96 Cents Goes To Shovel Up Wreckage of Substance Abuse; 4 Cents Goes to Prevention and Treatment
Califano Calls For A "Revolution In How States Spend Substance Abuse Funds"
Washington, DC, Jan 29 -- The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) today released its three-year study, Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets, revealing that in 1998 states spent conservatively $81.3 billion dollars on substance abuse and addiction -- 13.1 percent of the $620 billion in total state spending. Of each such dollar, 96 cents went to shovel up the wreckage of substance abuse and addiction; only four cents to prevent and treat it.
The 183-page report--the first ever to analyze the impact of all substance abuse (involving alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs) on state budgets--using the most conservative assumptions finds that in 1998 states spent:
$77.9 billion to shovel up the wreckage of substance abuse, only $3 billion to prevent and treat the problem and $433 million for alcohol and tobacco regulation and compliance. $24.9 billion to cope with the impact of substance abuse on children. States spend 113 times as much to clean up the devastation that substance abuse visits on children as they do to prevent and treat it.
"Substance abuse and addiction is the elephant in the living room of state government, creating havoc with service systems, causing illness, injury and death and consuming increasing amounts of state resources," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA President and former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. "This report is a clarion call for a revolution in the way governors and state legislators think about and confront substance abuse and addiction."
In an unprecedented effort, CASA looked at 16 areas of state spending including criminal and juvenile justice, transportation, health care, education, child welfare and welfare to detect just how many taxpayer dollars the states spend to deal with the financial burden of unprevented and untreated substance abuse. CASA found that this $77.9 billion burden was distributed as follows:
The proportion states spend on shoveling up the wreckage compared to what they spend on prevention and treatment ranges from $89.71 vs. $10.22 in North Dakota to $99.94 vs. $0.06 in Colorado.
"States that want to reduce crime, slow the rise in Medicaid spending, move more mothers and children from welfare to work and responsible and nurturing family life must shift from shoveling up the wreckage to preventing children and teens from abusing drugs, alcohol and nicotine and treating individuals who get hooked. The choice for governors and state legislators is this: either continue to tax their constituents for funds to shovel up the wreckage of alcohol, drug and nicotine abuse and addiction or recast their priorities to focus on preventing and treating such abuse and addiction," said Califano.
The report finds that the next great opportunity to reduce crime is to provide treatment and training to drug and alcohol abusing prisoners who will return to a life of criminal activity unless they leave prison substance free and, upon release, enter treatment and continuing aftercare and the biggest opportunity to cut Medicaid costs is by preventing and treating substance abuse and addiction.
"Governors who want to curb child abuse, teen pregnancy and domestic violence and further reduce welfare rolls, must face up to this reality: unless they prevent and treat alcohol and drug abuse and addiction, their other well intentioned efforts are doomed," added Califano.
Survey of Budget Offices
CASA conducted an elaborate survey of the states, examined programs designed to prevent and treat substance abuse or deal with its consequences and interviewed scores of state budget and program officials. Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico responded to the survey. CASA estimated spending for the five states that did not respond, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Texas.
This report covers only state costs. It does not cover federal matching funds that states spend (e.g., on Medicaid and welfare); federal government costs; the spending of local governments (which bear most of the law enforcement burden), the costs to parochial and private schools and other private sector costs (such as employee health care, lost productivity and facility security), which are the subject of ongoing CASA analyses.
The CASA report contains detailed recommendations on targeting treatment and prevention efforts, using state powers of legislation, regulation and taxation, and improving program management and service delivery.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE