What Does the Bible Say About Substance Abuse?
Drug abuse has been written about in many languages and by many people over the centuries. Many of these works are very useful in the treatment of addiction, but few have the same impact as the Bible. What does the Bible actually say about addiction or substance abuse? If you read through it looking for that word, you may be disappointed. That’s because the terms “addict” and “addiction” weren’t used during the time the Bible was written. However, just because addiction isn’t directly mentioned in many versions of the Bible doesn’t mean scripture can’t be used to help addicts. Quite the opposite. If you know where to look, you’ll find that the Bible actually says a lot about substance abuse.
1 Peter 5:8
The Bible has a number of warnings about the dangers of intoxication, which can be read as abuse of any substance. One such verse is 1 Peter 5:8:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Alcohol addiction dulls the mind and makes it much easier to fall into destructive behavior. Peter is warning readers that when you’re not sober, you’re more likely to make bad choices. Addicts may start stealing to get drug money and lying to cover their addiction.
There are a number of scriptures that speak about drinking in the Bible. For example, in Ephesians, Paul writes
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
In most cases, you can replace alcohol with drugs and the meaning of the line remains the same. Paul could certainly have said that addiction leads to debauchery. This scripture also points out that being drunk (or addicted) is counter to being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 20:1 is saying something similar to Ephesians.
“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
This could be taken as alcohol will make a drunk say horrible things and fight. Substance abuse certainly makes a person do things they wouldn’t usually do. Like Paul, Proverbs contrasts drinking with being wise. Abusing substances is certainly not a wise thing to do.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
These lines speak to taking care of your body. You should not harm that which was created by God in His image. Substance abuse of any kind certainly harms the body and the mind. It can also lead to self-harming and even death. Anything that damaged the body should be avoided.
1 Corinthians 10:13
This verse has to do with temptations, which can certainly include addiction. The key point that addicts and loved ones of addicts should take from this verse is the last sentence:
“But when you are tempted, He [God] will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
It tells addicts that there is always a way back to sobriety. Even when it all seems hopeless, never give up. Addicts can overcome the temptation of drugs.