They call it “the good life”—the pleasures of swimming in a sea of alcohol; or drugs…. Habitual use of drugs and alcohol often results in addiction. The drinker’s inadequacies, faults, and problems become intensified, and often personality changes result. Feeling confident when under the influence of alcohol, they are often immature, insecure, and afflicted by guilt and depression.
They typically do not feel good about themself and cannot face the challenges, addiction and the problems it creates; so they deny the problem and is dishonest in covering it up and in blaming it on others, work, or the “bad breaks” of life. This deviousness and denial leads to a masquerade in life that at times assumes almost comic, though actually tragic, overtones.
Alcoholics desperately need help. Alcoholics Anonymous maintains that until alcoholics hit rock bottom, admitting their life is out of control, there is little hope of any change. Admitting that there is a problem is the first step on the road to recovery.
A drug is any substance which produces physical, mental, or psychological changes in the user. Since earliest times, people have experimented with drugs in an effort to escape reality. Today hundreds of millions of people are involved in drugs which range all the way from mildly addictive caffeine to illegal, deeply addictive drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Anyone can become physically and psychologically addicted to any drug if exposed to high dosages for a sufficient period of time.
Drug users come from all walks of life. Many of the roots of dependency are to be found in insecurity, fear, guilt, disappointments, immorality and deviant sexual behavior, frustration, stress, peer pressures, and intense competition, as exemplified in professional sports. Add to these the great spiritual vacuum which has resulted in a breakdown of moral standards, the disintegration of the home, four major wars in this century, and the staggering availability of drugs of every kind to every age group, including grade school children.
Drug dependency is a problem of the whole person—spiritual, physical, emotional, and social. Once addicted, the dependent lives in an illusory world characterized by paralyzed feelings and emotional responses, mental denials and delusions, social isolation, and spiritual limbo. For many it is a helpless state, a life of no return.
The effort to withdraw from a drug addiction can be very painful, both physically and psychologically. Unmonitored withdrawal can be dangerous. Getting free from dependency, and the subsequent rehabilitation, is usually a long-term process. A strong support system involving the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical is needed.
In order to be helped spiritually, the drug dependent must desire to be helped and must take some initial step to seek such help. We should seek his or her commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This initial step of faith should lead to a new perspective and motivation for the user, which will lead, hopefully, to rehabilitation and a life of wholeness. Even after commitment to Christ, however, there is often a need to work on the personal issues that led to the addiction, such as a poor self-image, insecurity, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, immorality, fear, or guilt.
When the fans saw Mickey Mantle—a power hitter with the speed of a sprinter—they were in awe. He was an all-American hero. Some say he was the greatest baseball player of all time. Mickey Mantle had it all—fame, fortune, and millions of fans. On the day of his high school graduation, he signed with the world renowned New York Yankees, a decision that placed Mickey on the road to stardom. Yet did the average fan see the symptoms of the alcoholism? Most did not, his family did.
Mickey’s children spoke of his increasing inattention to his family while they were young. He became more depressed, more irritable. When the Yankees lost a game or when Mickey struck out, the children knew to leave their dad alone. The entire family walked on eggshells, hoping to prevent the inevitable verbal abuse. Not only was Mickey in denial about his alcoholism, but his wife also minimized the problem.
Mantle made excuses for his absences, which often included time spent with other women. His increasing use of alcohol was a desperate attempt to boost his self-esteem. More and more, alcohol was necessary for him to function during the day, then more and more it became necessary in order for him to sleep at night. A therapist once commented, “Mickey is totally controlled by fear. He is filled with fear about everything.” Mickey himself stated, “I am embarrassed by what I did when I drank: the foul language, the rudeness, having to face people the next day whom I didn’t remember insulting the night before.” No wonder he had fear.
“Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.”
They call it “the good life”—the pleasures of swimming in a sea of booze … the fans always buying drinks for their heroes … the complimentary wine bottles in all hotel rooms.
“The Mick,” as Mickey Mantle was nicknamed, and his buddies considered it “the measure of being a man.” How well they held their liquor, drink after drink—without physical or emotional collapse—was their symbol of “manliness.”
Much later, however, Mickey recognized “the good life” wasn’t “good” at all: “Baseball didn’t turn me into a drunk. I drank because I thought we were having fun. It was part of the camaraderie, the male bonding thing.” What he called the bonding thing became more his breaking thing—the breakdown of his health and untimely death solely due to alcoholism.
Although written centuries before, the Psalms reflect the sorrow in the life of this addicted hero.…
“The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.”
For Mickey, it wasn’t just fun that drove him to drink, but also fear.
Mickey’s father died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the young age of 40 … and three other relatives succumbed to the disease before their 40th birthdays. Afraid his life also could be cut short, Mickey decided to “party hard”—his drug of choice, alcohol—because he might never see his sunset years.
A therapist commented: “Mickey is totally controlled by fear. He is filled with fear about everything.” His father’s death was precisely what pushed Mickey over the edge—the critical turning point when his playful partying turned debilitating. The “baseball great” slid into a self-made addiction—running from his fear instead of facing it.
With death all around, if Mickey had learned to yield his life to the Lord he could have faced his fear and found comfort...
“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”
“I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
1 Corinthians chapter 10