“Spring Season” of Addiction
“Teen Alcohol Use Linked to Boredom: A survey by the charity Drinkaware has found that many British teens turn to alcohol to overcome boredom...” (Alcohol & Drug Abuse News, Wednesday, August 05, 2009, MED: India).
A surprising number of individuals and organizations believe the most effective way to teach abstinence from drugs, alcohol, pornography or other “sinful” behavior is by teaching the negative consequences. Emphasis is placed on birth defects, brain damage, jail time, divorce, or mental hospitals. At times the unexpected result of using such strategies is the promotion of a “lie.” For example, once I was speaking on addiction at a fireside attended by youth and parents. I asked, “What happens if you were to drink one teaspoon of Budweiser?” A boy about 10 years old, with all sincerity responded, “You’ll die!” He really believed he would die if he drank one teaspoon of Budweiser!
This child’s false belief will likely: first, lead him to question the credibility of those who taught him (parents and church leaders), and second, increase his “curiosity” about what the truth might be. Paradoxically, both are more like “risk factors” – likely influence him to use the substance, than “protective factors” – influence him not to use the substance.
Unfortunately, the first season of addiction is rarely accompanied by negative consequences.
One of my first assignments as a licensed mental health professional was to provide therapy for teens who had received a legal offense related to possession or use of alcohol or marijuana. My initial impression, “A piece of cake….Certainly once kids learned about the negative consequences of substance use they would quit.”
Scare tactics just didn’t work. These youth had never been locked-up, hospitalized or even had a hang over! As far as I could tell they never experienced any significant negative consequence for using the substance! Sure, their parents had yelled at them and their bishop had talked to them, and that was about it. I also noticed these youth typically did okay in school, usually had both parents in the home, weren’t victims of abuse, went to Church on Sunday, and often had leadership roles in their school and Church organizations.
Alcohol, marijuana, and pornography use is prevalent. Take for example alcohol. In 2008, 72% – almost ¾ – of all U.S. high school seniors reported having ever used alcohol and 55% – over half – having been drunk! (Monitoring the Future. A continuing study of American Youth). There is some truth to the saying “Everyone is doing it,” - including student body officers, athletes, and members of seminary council.
Although effects of alcohol, drugs and pornography vary widely from person to person the initial experience of joy or pleasure seems universal.
Youth know: I remember asking one LDS girl what happens when she smokes pot. She replied, “I laughso hard my side hurts.” Other common side effects reported included: “I act silly. It makes me feel good. I have fun ,” and sometimes I would hear, “Nothing, I fall asleep.”
Science knows: Small amounts of alcohol causes, among other symptoms, the following: “vivaciousness, feeling of warmth, and inappropriate laughter.” (eMedicineHealth.com) The following are some typical responses to marijuana: “euphoria, relaxation, subjective feelings of well-being or grandiosity, perceptual changes (including visual distortions), and increased appetite (the munchies).” (eMedicine.Medscape.com)
Church leaders know: Boyd K. Packer said “… They turn to drugs and find for a moment the escape they seek. At last their spirits soar. They reach beyond themselves, erase all limitations and taste for a moment, as they suppose, that which they have been seeking …” (The Other Side of the Ship, Conference Report, October 1969, Afternoon Meeting, pg. 36.) Spencer W. Kimball wrote “Whoever said that sin was not fun? Whoever claimed that Lucifer was not handsome, persuasive, easy, friendly? Sin is attractive and desirable.“(Faith Precedes the Miracle, Deseret Book, 1972, pg. 229.)
Scriptures know: We learn about the passing “pleasures” associated with sin like alcohol, drug and pornography use “…to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” (Hebrews 11: 25) Also 3 Nephi 27:11 teaches if your life “is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season. . .” (See Mormon 2:13)
Alcohol, drugs and pornography are effective and dependable. They literally change the way one feels. When ingested each causes a chemical/hormonal reaction in the physical body.
One sip of Budweiser does not make you an alcoholic and leave you penniless and homeless, but it is disobedience to God’s commandment. Viewing one nude scene in an R-rated movie may not make you a rapist and leave you divorced and in prison, but it is enough to distance you from the Spirit.
PRINCIPLE: The “spring season” of addiction (sin) usually results in joy or pleasure. The “seed” of disobedience is planted and the Spirit withdraws.
dr rick~ A Voice for Virtue
Links for additional information:
James R. Goodrich, “Alcohol Addiction: Hope for Understanding and Recovery,” Ensign, Jul 1981. Make sure you review the subheading: “People Drink For A Reason: 1) A person discovers the short-term pleasure of alcohol use.”
An Important Lesson: Helping Students Avoid Drug Abuse. Published by: Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Make sure you review the subheading: “Why do kids abuse prescription drugs? They are seeking psychological or physical pleasure.”