Don't drugs "broaden your horizons"?

Dear Paul,

My friend is using drugs with the excuse that he's "broadening his horizons". I don't agree with him, but I'm not exactly sure why. Can you help me understand why it's not a good idea for me to start and give him some reasons to consider quitting?



Dear Friend,

Your question is a great one, so thanks for asking. As you may know, if you have heard my story on retreats, I used to do drugs. Some people use the excuse that they want to broaden their horizons, as your friend is doing. Some people do drugs for recreational fun reasons, and some do drugs to escape their problems. There are probably other reasons, too.

I am of the conviction that since drugs are, by definition, used to escape from reality and numb out pain, that most people who use drugs are doing so to escape from something. Perhaps your friend does not like his life or has family or other relational problems. Perhaps he is having trouble in some other area of his life, which may remain hidden - even from him. Sometimes the problems that people try to escape from are more subtle in nature - they are struggling with self-esteem, or they do not think that their personalities are good enough, or they feel as if they need to enhance themselves with drugs since they feel inadequate as they are.

It is sad that so many people do drugs. The time in my life when I was using is the darkest and most disappointing time of life. Not only did I hurt myself and many other people, but also I stunted my emotional development and personal growth. I was not being the person that God created me to be, and my talents and abilities were unable to be fully developed and utilized.

Now, I am all for ‘broadening your horizons'; but I think that putting artificial chemicals into your body to do so is ridiculous. Especially when those chemicals and substances are dangerous in so many physical, emotional, and relational ways! If your friend wants to really broaden his horizons in healthy and productive ways, I would encourage him to develop his relationship with God, who is His creator and can show him who he really is. I would also recommend his reaching out to others in some forms of community service, since this will help him to realize what might be undiscovered gifts and talents. Incidentally, few people who use drugs are about serving others - most seem to be pretty self-absorbed, living with the ‘what's in it for me' and ‘life is a party' attitudes.

I hope that maybe some of these thoughts will be helpful to your friend. I would encourage you to keep praying for him, since anyone who is doing drugs needs prayers. And keep on letting him know how much you care. Love can change things. So can God.

Peace,

 

Paul