I was going to a Christian college when I got the question. A friend who was doing a project was talking to me while I played music on the campus radio station. She asked, “Why didn’t you try drugs when you were in high school?”
I answered truthfully, “Because I lived in a small town and I had no idea where to get them.”
She said, “That’s the wrong answer. You are supposed to say, ‘Because I am a Christian and I have Jesus in my heart and I don’t need drugs.'”
I said, “That is true, but my first answer was also true.”
I don’t think she used my response in the project she was doing.
But the truth is, in the mid-1960’s, in small town Minnesota, I knew no one who was using drugs. We had a couple of heavy drinkers in my class, and everyone knew who they were. But marijuana? No way. Anything stronger? Are you kidding?
It’s a different world now. Even in the smallest town, even in the most remote corner of the country, no matter where you live, there are opportunities to get into more trouble than most adults are aware of.
Next week, my wife, Deborah, is going to be involved in a program with the FBI on the dangers of opioids. Who ever heard of opioids fifty years ago? But the movie “Chasing the Dragon” shows how dangerous and prevalent this problem is. Our kids and grandkids have to deal with things that are much more serious than most of us ever had to deal with.
One of the answers, as my college friend said, is to have a strong spiritual foundation. If we have a close relationship with the Creator of the Universe, we will be less likely to need to experiment with mind and mood altering substances. If we can communicate with our families about our anxieties, we will be less likely to need to drown our despair with numbing chemicals. Having a support system of Christian friends from a church or youth group means you will be less likely fall into a pit of despair.
But that is only one part of the defense. Another is to be educated, to know what the dangers are. Parents and others need to know the danger signs. Friends need to be aware of changes in attitude or behavior. We all need to be each other’s support system.
That is why programs like these are important. It is important to be forewarned and forearmed. We need to take responsibility for our friends and family.
Ultimately, we cannot prevent anyone else from making a bad decision. But the more we can offer positive options, the better. Even kids who grow up in loving, supportive homes with spiritual foundations can make wrong choices. And even kids who grow up with no positive support can avoid danger. But the chances of kids growing up healthy and happy and free from problems are greater when they have loving and supportive families and friends.
It’s a different world now, and it is getting more and more dangerous and scary. It doesn’t matter where you live or what material blessings you enjoy. What makes a bigger difference is that we love and pray and support our kids and grandkids and others in our lives.
I think part of the answer to my friend’s question was also that my parents prayed for me daily. And when you can’t do anything else, you can still pray. It might just be the key that unlocks a well-balanced and mature adult.