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Alcohol and Drug Abuse


Alcohol and Drug Abuse


By Archpriest Joseph Purpura




When teens were asked in the Orthodox Teen Survey, conducted this past year, “In the past twelve months how many times did you go out drinking with your friends” this is what they said:

Never: 56.71%

1-2 Times: 13.04%

3-6 times: 1.77%

More than 6 Times: 2.03%

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)



The Church’s rational for being opposed to alcohol and drug abuse is found in
St. Paul
’s letter to the Corinthians 6:19-20. In both cases one who over indulges puts the body and mind at risk and in some cases harms and even destroys the body. It is a well-known fact that excessive alcohol consumption kills brain cells and affects the liver. Other drugs such as cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and the like all affect the body and eventually harm and destroy various organs and can even lead to death. Aside from the physical harm caused by alcohol and other drugs, one’s emotional and spiritual lives are directly affected. While certain forms of alcohol, such as wine, drunk in moderation, particularly with a meal, can in fact be healthy, overindulgence to the point that judgment becomes impaired can lead to loss of self-control and one’s entering into sins one might not otherwise enter into. For example, in the Orthodox Teen Survey there was a direct link between alcohol consumption and those who were sexually active. Most likely this connection has to do with the effects of alcohol lowering ones ability to effectively control what is happening to oneself and ones sense of judgment. Unfortunately, our society’s seemly casual view that alcohol consumption is normal amongst teens, has led many teens into situations that have caused them much harm. While a total prohibition of alcohol is not recommended since even the scriptures say that a little wine is good, the causal attitude in society about becoming intoxicated needs to be changed and responsible alcohol consumption be taught to teens and practiced by the adults whom they are emulating.



Other drugs, from cigarettes to marijuana, to heroin all fall into the category of having virtually no benefit and only harm to the body, mind and spirit, aside perhaps from some controlled medical uses. Here the user again puts him or her at great risk of harm. Not only is there often loss of control and judgment, but also from the start the body is harmed. Such abuses of the body can be classified as a form of indirect suicide, in which the continued use of such substances over time will lead to the deterioration of the body and eventual death. If we take seriously the fact that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, where God dwells, then it becomes incumbent upon us to keep the body pure, healthy and sound. The Church puts the emphasis on the sacredness of the body and is why we are called to care for it, nurture it and protect it from all forms of defilement and harm. In caring for the body, keeping the body sound and pure we also provide for our spiritual wellness and wholeness. The Church has always spoken of the person as a whole human being; the Church has always emphasized the sacredness of both body and soul. In fact, the Resurrection accounts of Christ in the Scripture, emphasize Jesus was raised both in Body and Spirit. By caring for one’s body and keeping it pure, healthy and strong, a person also helps keep their spiritual life in order, as by disciplining the body one allows their spiritual life to guide them, rather than the cravings of the body.