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Why turn to drugs?

What is it that encourages people to begin taking addictive drugs?

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From: Drug rehabilitation – Footsteps 23

How to support people with addictions and raise awareness of drug abuse

by David Partington.

What is it that encourages people to begin taking addictive drugs? We all have things in our lives which bring special pleasure, things that we want to experience over and over again, things that we would struggle to give up. We all lean on something – the only difference is that drugs and solvents (glue) are very harmful, both physically and mentally.

All of us look for fulfilment, contentment and satisfaction. An addict looks for, and finds, contentment in using drugs – but in the end it always fails, and often results in death. In our troubled world there are growing numbers of people who turn to the brief though overwhelming pleasures found through addiction to ‘hard’ drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The first steps into the spiral of drug addiction are very hard to move back from. For the families of drug addicts there is the misery of watching someone destroying their health, whilst at the same time usually destroying the wellbeing of their families.


Addicts need a complete change of life. They need someone to help them change, because they do not have the resources within to change themselves. The things that addicts build around themselves to bring security, belief and feelings are based on lies and unreality and must be knocked away. In their place must come a lifestyle that will help them work through conflict and difficulty, growing towards maturity.

We live in an age where people are often made to feel worthless and rejected by what they see around them. Most hard drug users are intelligent and sensitive people. The main thing they have in common is feeling rejected, though other things – such as lack of satisfaction with life, rebellion and feeling worthless – come into it as well. Perhaps one of the hardest things for an addict to come to terms with, is their guilt. Not just guilt about what they have done to themselves, but guilt about what they have done to others.

Basic disciplines

Many addicts develop self-centred lifestyles at an early age. They do not want to take responsibility for their actions. They fail to learn some very basic disciplines. These disciplines (which many other people learn quite naturally and take for granted) include: living an ordered life, perseverance, the value of honest work, the wise use of money, respecting and obeying authority, consideration for others. Ignoring these disciplines causes people to become continually irresponsible. Drugs can quite naturally become an added option. When life demands too much or gives too little, the invitation to ‘turn off’ and ‘turn on’ becomes too strong to resist.

Distorted outlook

Eventually they develop a philosophy of life which justifies their way of life – in their own minds at least. This will include some of the following ideas:

  • The world owes us a living.
  • Getting something for nothing is success.
  • It’s more blessed to receive than to give.
  • The end justifies the means.
  • What’s yours is mine.
  • What’s mine is my own.
  • Don’t trust anyone aged over 30.

They become so convinced of their beliefs that they see the law, order and authority as their number one enemy. Most of these young people long for happiness and peace, but they usually recognise too late that their ‘freedom’ has ‘made them slaves’ and their rebellion has ruined them. They need to learn what to do instead of taking drugs.

To learn a new way of life – or not to learn? It’s a life and death matter. Thankfully, I have seen God transform enough lives to know that a new life is a very real option.

David Partington has worked for many years in drug rehabilitation and is based at Yeldall Christian Centre, Hare Hatch, Reading, RG10 9XR, UK.

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