You've reached the shared blog of Michael Mckay and Todd Frederick. Two friends who have worked together in ministry and labored in similar educational endeavors. Please join us as we consider the interaction of Christianity with modern culture...

Monday, June 11, 2012

The day I learned to hate drugs.

I appreciate the many nuanced discussions for and against the legalization of this and that. I’m all for a limited government and individual rights. Recent events in my life have caused me to reflect on why I absolutely hate drugs. My hatred is not an abstract opinion, but a visceral reaction that I can feel in my bones and my flesh. My hands ball themselves into fists at the thought of someone I love using drugs. My reaction revolves around what drugs have taken from me: my oldest brother was a drug addict. 

Jeff was thirteen years older than I am, so as he encountered the independence of his teen years, I showed up. Probably a little inconvenient and irrelevant, so I don’t have a lot of memories where we lived under the same roof. I do remember visiting him in prison, but I was too young to enter the facility. My little brother and I waited in the car while mom visited and then as we left, she pointed out his arm, waving from the confines of his cell. He was incarcerated for drugs. 

Later I would visit him at his home in Newport News. He had cleaned up, married and had a beautiful wife and daughter. The specter of addiction haunted him, and he would return to drugs again and again until finally, he was incarcerated again. Along the way his wife was unable to continue in the marriage and no one should fault her. Drugs changed my brother. He would lie and steal to get the one thing in life that he really wanted… more drugs. 

While he was in jail, he had cleaned up and my wife and I would visit frequently. As he was being released from his final jail sentence, I offered to let him come live with me and I found him a job. I was young and newly married with a little daughter of my own. Enwrapped in the struggles of a young couple it was doubly difficult to discover that soon after moving in with us Jeff had returned to drugs. He was no longer a welcome guest in our home and moved to a resident drug treatment ministry, but refused treatment. Within a short time, we learned that he had died. I don’t know all the details surrounding his death, but I remember very clearly going to the funeral home with my mom and arranging for his funeral. On the day of his funeral, I was so sick with grief that I couldn’t get out of bed, though I tried. This is the day I hated, and learned to hate with absolute, unqualified anger the use of drugs to get high. 

The greatest illusion that drugs create is that of control. The user believes that he or she can control the substance and use it to get high. Over time, the substance controls the user. You might point out exceptions to this by saying that so-and-so used (or uses) this or that and they’re fine. Goody for them. Every day of my life there’s someone missing because he thought controlled the drug which manipulated him, destroyed his relationships and left him dead at 37.