The Substance Abuse Dialogue
With Emphasis on the Church
THE DIAGNOSIS: The Solutions
CHILDREN ARE MORE LIKELY TO DEVELOP A PATTERN OF USING DRUGS WHEN SUBSTANCE ABUSE IS PRESENT IN THE HOME. Role models are developed earlier in a child’s life when there is neglect or abuse in the home. Teachers can easily become role models and idols. A teacher who becomes frustrated when a child acts out learned behaviors, misses the opportunity to steer the child out of danger. Schools should be designed to identify the patterns of physical and substance abuse in a child’s home, and offer an outlet of patience and knowledge, providing a safe space at the earliest stage of learning.
EVERY SUBSTANCE ABUSE USER HAS BEEN EMOTIONALLY DAMAGED IN CHILDHOOD. Emotionally damaged means, scarred by the impact of pain from those who should protect. Pain is stored in the subconscious, but can be overturned by loving actions, and where life becomes a search for truth and right.
LACK OF COPING MECHANISMS AND THE INABILITY TO DEFEND AGAINST ABUSE, CRIPPLES WILLPOWER. Coping mechanisms are learned behaviors. A great example is of a father who dives into the pool with his daughter, changing a deathly experience into fun. Constantly diving into crippling circumstances alone, with no mode of defense, impairs rational judgement, and creates a victim whose view of life becomes a brick wall. Fathers are the best examples of navigating harsh experiences because of their un-emotional perspective and ability to solve problems with quick judgement.
THE DURATION OF CHILDHOOD ABUSE (PHYSICAL, SEXUAL, EMOTIONAL, FINANCIAL) DETERMINES THE DEPTH OF EMOTIONAL WEAKNESS. Childhood abuse is the quicksand of emotional weakness. Time and exploitation of values in the mire enhances its strength. Community events that generate family interests provide an escape to a home which is full of trauma. The Church with its family activities become an escape haven, not only to children, but to families.
THE CHOICE OF COPING SKILL DEVELOPED AS INDEPENDENCE IS ACHIEVED, DEPENDS ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND ITS OFFERINGS. Substance abuse, because of its euphoria, can quickly become the primary choice for coping. A community with parks, pools, theatres, beaches and other types of recreation, provide a temporary escape from the darkness of a traumatic home. However, the Church in the neighborhood, provides intellectual and spiritual guidance, which changes the mental processes of handling and solving problems. The Church is a secure place in the community to reset the thought processes of coping skills.
HUMAN BONDING IS THE GREATEST DEFENSE AGAINST SUBSTANCE AND PHYSICAL ABUSE, WHILE LACK OF BONDING BECOMES THE GREATEST DECIDING FACTOR OF CHOOSING ABUSIVE SUBSTANCE TO NULLIFY PHYSICAL ABUSE. The first line of defense against substance and physical abuse is knowing who to turn to. Human bonding brings healing to the wounds of physical abuse. Not having someone to lean on or to trust, leaves the door open for other choices. Socially, medically, and on the streets, society portray drugs as answers to pain.
THE CRY FOR ATTENTION IS A DRUG THAT LEADS TO SUBSTANCE ABUSE. A cry that is not heard can quickly become destructive. The constant release of negative hormones themselves become toxic to the body.
THOSE WHO SUPPLY ATTENTION CAN EASILY BECOME PUSHERS OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE. Those who find themselves in the position of answering another human’s need, understand the power that is handed over. Untamed power is most destructive.
UNWANTED ATTENTION LEADS TO THE CONFUSION OF WRONG CHOICES. Similar to untamed power, unwanted attention introduces the confusion of choices which end in bitterness.
NOT HAVING A SAFE OUTLET TO UNDERSTAND LIFE AND RECEIVE HEALING, LEAVES THE DOOR OPEN TO POOR CHOICES. Home should be the safest environment for creative expressions and the harnessing of creativity that is socially unacceptable. If the home is chaotic with lack of rules, the child lives an unbridled life. Effectively handling problems becomes a series of trial and error. The community becomes the chalk board of expression, and will either enforce morals or reinforce chaos. Every community needs a great Church.
OPPORTUNITIES WITH RULES AND REGULATIONS ARE ABUSED WHEN THE DEEP ISSUE OF THE USER IS THE NEED TO BE HEARD. A child who has experienced repeated rejection and has been tortured by fear, finds it difficult to take hold of opportunities for betterment, when at the core, their need has not been resolved. The Church explores the human sub-emotional need and exposes it with the gentleness of worth and belonging.
THE ABUSED TYPICALLY ISOLATE THEMSELVES, OR BOND WITH PEERS WHO FEEL THE NEED TO BE ALONE. Substance abuse, because of its addictive nature, denotes shame. Shame demands isolation, which often results in cases of drug overdose. It is natural for a user to hide away from society: it pacifies the shame, becomes a silent cry for help, and lessens accountability. The root of substance misuse is abandonment and rejection. Finding a peer means, finding common ground of expression. Most substance abusers, once they have immersed themselves in the Church, find a consolation they never walk away from.
THERE IS NO DRIVE TO ACCOMPLISH A TASK. At some point in a victim’s walk, they face the question of why am I here. The past holds no chord strong enough to restrain its victim from demise, if the answer is known. The foundational teachings of the Church answer this question more than any other entity in the world.
THE WORLD HAS BETRAYED THEM. Betrayal that impacts lives is believed when morals are low, rejection is high, and routine tasks become burdensome. This is a great time to draw on coping skills, a lesson plan that cannot be overstated.
GRIEF IS A NATURAL EMOTION. Grief can start the process of drug misuse in what society would label, a previously stable life. Various strategies for grief counseling must be implemented to prevent what could end with the same consequences as drug misuse.
THE DANGERS OF POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS. Post-traumatic stress is the mind’s protective mechanism of activating past trauma, when the instinct to overcome is stifled, or the impulse to fight is suffocated. The mind compounds the horrors of the past and the imagined horrors of the present, to lessen the present effect on the body and mind. Post- traumatic stress results from dealing with trauma in isolation. Incorporate the individual into a value-laden, loving, caring environment with wisdom and lack of judgement, and the stress is minimized or alleviated. Drug use of any kind provides a temporary bandage, but can result in dependency and misuse.
GETTING HIGH IS NOT ONLY PHYSICAL, IT IS SPIRITUAL. On a typical high, there is a plethora of knowledge that gives the user a state of euphoria and a sense of worth. This spiritual experience often becomes the drive to continually seeking the high. Life must hold greater good, and greater values that the illusion.
WORTH COMES FROM BEING IN CHARGE. Power is synonymous with self-worth. The high of substance abuse is typically an excuse to get away with violence or physical abuse, as blame can be passed to the substance, while the villain is empowered, in the moment, to excerpt control or be in charge. Lack of self-worth can be corrected by drawing on the individual’s natural gifts and talents.
HEAVY USERS DEVELOP IRRESPONSIBLE ETHICS. Users generally feel a lack of worth especially when failure is present, because the momentum to rise above has been lost. A sense of laziness is developed, and becomes an easy place to hide when life does not answer. The deeper the dive, the less responsible the mind becomes. In the late stages, the substance of choice replaces natural food and natural desires. Depression and the call to responsible action heightens the need to get high. Solutions which are typical to non-users, become monumental to heavy users, because mentally, failure is the outcome of trying.
IMPLEMENTING PREVENTION STRATEGIES
MENTAL COACH: A mental coach is one who has studied and is familiar with the disorder brought on by substance abuse: lower cognitive abilities, a lack of will power to move to the next level, and the sense of obligation that life be handed on a platter without the need to try. The mental coach uses a step by step approach in a timely manner, while never slacking the pace.
SPIRITUAL COACH: The spiritual coach re-writes the codes of childhood in an easy to simulate manner, while gently erasing sub-conscious beliefs. Along with the community of Church believers, structure and talent are implemented to walk away from the triggers of the past.
HEALTH AND NUTRITION SUPPLEMENTS AND COACHING: Substance abuse wastes the body and the brain. Diet, nutrition and exercise will help to regenerate new cells to keep pace with the spiritual and mental steps.
SKILL TRAINING: Even if the user had adequate life skills training, it is necessary to retrain, to re- enter the work force and compete successfully.
DISCIPLESHIP: A friend who has permission to check in at any time, give sound advice, and partner together on various activities. Role models have always been the single best source of a hand to pull a user out of the darkness of substance abuse.
Prepared by: Jacqueline Johnson, Pastor, The Rock Ministries