Monday, June 15, 2015


Five hundred people die of addictions every hour in America, at a cost of 600 billion dollars a year.  There are drug addictions such as alcohol, cocaine, morphine, etc.  There are behavioral addictions such as gambling, junk food, pornography, and video games.  

All addictions hijack the reward center of the brain.  The reward center is composed of three areas:  the nucleus accumbens, the ventral tegmental area, and the prefrontal cortex.  

The key neurotransmitter is dopamine, which when released causes extreme craving for the drug or behavior.  

Caffeine and nicotine are two of the most widely used psychoactive drugs in the world.  Billions of people throughout the world use them every day.  

Junk food is a behavioral addiction.  Two thirds of Americans are overweight and one third are obese.  Pornography is a multi-billion dollar enterprise which is approaching one third of the internet.  Video games are also very addictive.  Grand Theft Auto 5 made five billion dollars in the first three days of its release.  That is five times greater than any movie made in history.  

To make matters even worse, 100 million Americans are suffering from chronic pain.  Time Magazine in its June 15, 2015, cover announced that America is now in an epidemic of pain pill addiction that is out of control.  These particular drugs are called opioids which relieve pain and have a chemical structure very close to heroin.  Examples are Vicodin, Demerol, Opana, Oxycontin, Percocet, etc.  

Time reported that of the 9.4 million Americans taking opioids for chronic pain, 2.1 million are addicted.  An average of 46 Americans died daily from prescription overdose.  

Every state in America, except one, has a prescription monitoring program which makes it more difficult to get multiple prescriptions from many doctors.  That state is Missouri.

When you are addicted it is like the Eagles greatest album, "The Hotel California."  You can check in but you can never leave.  In order to leave you are going to have to slay the beast that lives there.  (I will take a little poetic license to illustrate my point.)  The beast is whatever the addiction you may have, and all God's children got addictions.  You have to be a Sir Lancelot or a Joan of Arc.  You have to be brave and courageous.   

In the book, "Tigers In The Dark," the author tells of various stories of courage.  In this particular story a tiger trainer is being televised walking into a large cage where he will command rows of Bengal tigers weighing up to 600 pounds with a chair and a whip.  This was years ago when TV was live and shown as it was actually happening.  Midway through his performance there was a power failure.  The audience and TV watchers gasped.  For almost half a minute the tiger trainer was completely in the dark with the tigers, and tigers can see very well in the dark.  During what seemed a long time the audience could still hear the trainer talk and crack the ship.  The lights came on and he was safe.  Afterwards, the TV host asked him how he made it out alive.  The tiger trainer said he knew that tigers can see very well in the dark, but the tigers did not know that he could not see in the dark.  The tiger trainer did not focus on his fears but rather his courage and kept cracking his whip and talking as if nothing had happened.  This is the courage we must have.  We have to focus on our courage and not our fears.  

There will be relapses but we have to pick ourselves up and keep trying.  As Michael Corleone said, "Just when I thought I was out - they keep pulling me back in."  

The Apostle Paul in the seventh chapter of Romans reveals that at times he doesn't do the things he should do and does the things that he shouldn't do.  He then wails, "Who will save me from this body of death?"  He didn't say, what will save me - such as a 12 step program (which is good) but rather - who will save me?  The answer is Jesus Christ.  The very name of Jesus means One who will save.  We have within us the power of the Holy Spirit.  That power is dunamis (we get the English word dynamite) which is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  We have the power to overcome any addiction with the help of Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 is not just one of the favorite verses in the Bible, it is also the definition of the Gospel.  It begins, "For God so loved the world."  It didn't say, "For God so loved only the good people in the world."  The church is for the lost.  When Jesus talked of watching over 100 sheep and one was missing - He went after that lost sheep.  Jesus cares about that addicted person many people would just as soon get rid of.  The Bible says that we can withstand temptation if we can rely on Him.  When our backs are to the wall, He will send us an angel and angels always appear in human form.  The definition of an angel is one sent by God.  God can use you as an angel to help the lost.  You can be an angel and change lives if you wish.  The job description of a Christian is not very long.  It is in fact very short.  Our job description is "To change lives."  

You can be a light in a sea of darkness.  You can be an angel to someone who needs you.  To let the Word go forth.  The world needs you, and the world needs you now.  

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