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Addiction – what controls our lives today? And where do we place God?

Did any of you see the program ‘Meet the Drug Lords: Inside the Real Narcos’ presented by the ex-SAS serviceman Jason Fox that was on Channel 4 recently? In it ‘Foxy’ visited the areas of production and trafficking of drugs, mainly cocaine, and saw the cartels and the police in Mexico, Colombia and Peru in action. In these countries it seems, despite all police and military efforts, the drug trade grows, thrives and enriches the ‘Drug Lords’ to billionaire status. Of course this comes with a cost—violence is rife and gruesomely brutal, and lives are blighted from a very young age.
Of course it can be argued that the countries that cultivate, manufacture and supply drugs are only meeting the demand of the USA and Europe, where of course the drug trade also reeks havoc with lives, often our young folk. But as I watched, the programme also considered the farmers who grow the coca plant from which cocaine is manufactured – where they live a ‘hand to mouth existence’. This crop, they say, gives the best chance to feed a family and pay the school fees for a child. The farmer featured saw this as the only viable crop to sustain his family for the future.
Then there are other programs on TV, where we see the end users of the drug chain, who are also often, though not always, in poverty. It seems that at both ends of the drug trade both the growers, of poppies or the coca plant, and the drug addicts find it hard to make ends meet. It is in the journey from grower to end user of the drugs that much wealth is created for a few, but brings with it the danger of violence and misery for many. Yet we as societies across the world seem unable to do anything about it. Why?
I do not in anyway profess to be an expert on the drugs trade, addiction services, understanding why people end up addicted or many of the measures put in place to reduced the effects of addiction, but I would offer that much of this is not working. In a world where people seek the gain of wealth at the expense of others, and where people find solace for their problems in drugs we will continue to have this spiralling problem.
So is there a solution that hasn’t been tried? As I have already said I am no expert, or I dare say amateur in this area, but I am rather a minister of the Christian faith and I want to consider all sides of the drug trade through the lens of my faith—because at heart both are about putting something before God.
For the producers, traffickers, smugglers and dealers it is about making money without considering the consequences of the business they are involved in. Whether is it the local farmer who ‘needs’ the crop to survive or the cartel boss or drug dealer making the larger slice of profit—it is about making money at the expense and misery of the user; For the user and addict it is about finding the next high—seeking that thrill or the need to stop the pains of withdrawal. For both suppliers and users their own needs come first—before the thought of God or others. I know I am singling out the drug trade but the same could be said for many others, who by seeking to fulfil their own desires end up putting self before the service of others or God also.
The thrust of this article is that we are called by Christ to first and foremost love God and secondly love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew v.36-39). And there is the crux of addiction and the trade that feeds it. If we suffer addiction—to whatever it may be (it is not only drugs that are addictive—think money, sex, gambling, alcohol, sport and fitness, gaming… the list goes on) we are putting our own self interest and worth first. We are loving ourselves first and are more concerned with our individuality and feeding our ego. This is an idol problem—we make an idol out of anything we worship and it can easily be ourselves. I know addiction is complex and multifaceted—but maybe at heart it is about brokenness and desire for self-satisfaction. Well I believe that we can only be truly satisfied with ourselves when we put God first. Christ died that our sins may be forgiven and when we truly know that, the outlook on our life changes.
Giving your life to Christ is truly liberating, though I am not saying all problems in life will be solved. You will however have relationship with one who truly cares, supports and nourishes your life. But it must be real, sincere. We will continue to get life wrong in some ways, but repentance before Christ will change the heart , mind and way we live.
It was startling that the ‘Drug Lords’ continued in their destructive lifestyle through to their own demise, yet seemed to have faith in God. Foxy visited the cemetery containing their huge ornate tombs with all the usual Christian imagery. In death they were boasting of power and wealth—where was the true repentance and humility? Paul writes “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7.24-25). In Him is found real life—everlasting!
Yours in Christ, Lord and Saviour
Pastor Mike

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