America’s drug crisis: Christians in music, ministry share how drug abuse affected their lives

Victim of drug abuse
Victim of drug abuse

Drugs have destroyed the lives of countless Americans. Many are struggling daily with debilitating addictions while others endure the heartache that follows the loss of a loved one who died from an overdose. 

More than 70,200 Americans died in 2017 from using illegal or prescription drugs. Of that number over 47,600 died from an opioid overdose, a twofold increase in just one decade, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Data from the CDC show the opioid death rate reached 14.9 per 100,000 people in 2017, which is up from 2.9 in 1999. 

The Trump administration has declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency and last year awarded over $1 billion in opioid-specific grants to help combat the crisis ravaging the country. 

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Popular Christian rehabilitation program Adult & Teen Challenge defines drug addiction as a “one-time use of a chemical substance which results in a full dependency. This dependency can create strains in relationships and careers and can lead to a debilitating feeling of hopelessness.”

Pastor David Wilkerson started Teen Challenge in 1958 and it's now internationally recognized for its success in helping addicts get clean, beating out all secular programs. The program was founded on the basics of the Word of God, prayer, belief in Christ, and an utter dependence on the Holy Spirit’s power.

There are three main groups of addictive substances: depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens. 

Depressants slow down the messages going to and from the brain which affect one's concentration and coordination. Hallucinogens distort a sense of reality. Some of the side effects include hearing things, panic, paranoia, and a feeling of euphoria. Stimulants speed up messaging to and from the brain, causing an increased heart rate, blood pressure and sleeplessness, among other things.

Many Christian artists and ministry leaders have spoken openly about their experiences with drugs — either as an addict or the spouse or child of an addict.

The following is a list of six prominent Christians who've candidly shared their personal experiences in interviews with The Christian Post. Each details how they managed to break free from their addiction and offers advice to churches and family members on how they can help their loved ones overcome their addictions one day at a time. 

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