Overcoming `substance abuse'
AS concern over drug use has risen, the term substance abuse has appeared with some frequency in the media. I first noticed the term in a newspaper's magazine, which mentioned that a growing number of individuals advocate the addition of the letters SA (Substance Abuse) to movie ratings in order to forewarn parents that drug or alcohol use is favorably depicted in the film. Thinking about the issue, I recalled my own exposure to drugs and alcohol as a young adult a few years ago. At the time, many of my friends used mind-altering drugs on a regular basis. I attended my friends' parties regularly and had tried drugs once myself, but I somehow thought that because I was ``just'' drinking and not ``doing drugs,'' my problem was minor in comparison. I had recently learned about Christian Science, and I knew I wanted to overcome my frequent use of alcohol. I had seen through my own experience and my friends' that drugs and alcohol had held out promises they couldn't keep--they left us emptier than before. But I hadn't met the problem with total success.
Then one evening circumstances propelled me to see that I had been wrong in thinking that I wasn't a drug abuser but that my friends were. I decided to call a Christian Science practitioner for help through prayer.
The practitioner was not condemning but loving. He helped me to see that I needed to stop trying to find permanence and peace in means that by their material nature excluded those very qualities.
It began to dawn on me that the deeper need went beyond the need for healing of the alcohol difficulty. I had to understand that God is Spirit, as the Bible teaches, and that man (including me) is His image and likeness,1 therefore spiritual. That's the true nature of everyone. On this basis I reasoned that material pleasures are foreign to man--they offer him nothing. Man already has all good, since he expresses good, God, and we can begin to prove this truth in human experience. I also began to learn that each one is indispensable to God, and that all real love comes from God and can't be lost. This helped free me from the fear of losing my friends' love or of not belonging, which was part of the reason I drank.
I did have further challenges, but I soon lost all desire for alcohol. The healing has proved to be permanent--I have never had an urge to drink since. I was deeply grateful to be free of the drinking habit, but I have had even more cause to be grateful over the years because what I learned about substance in that instance has proved to be the foundation for many other healings.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, answers the question ``What is substance?'' this way: ``Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay. Truth, Life, and Love are substance, as the Scriptures use this word in Hebrews: `The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.'''2
It's really the whole concept of true substance that is abused when one turns to drug use or to any of the other means of supposedly instant pleasure that the material world offers. Real substance includes a peacefulness, dominion, permanence, joy, and vivacity unattainable through material avenues. Christ Jesus said, ``Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.''3 And he gave mankind concrete proof through his life and teachings that Spirit is substantial and all-powerful.
No matter how close or remote the subject of ``substance abuse'' may seem to us, we can't escape the need for learning more about true substance. Nor would we want to when we gain a glimpse of the practical good that even a slight understanding of real substance brings. Choosing that which is lasting, and promotive of genuine harmony, does have a tremendous healing impact in our lives. And it doesn't just bless us. Our letting go of materiality a little more each day helps our fellow beings do the same, and helps us all to be free of the traps that come with seeking fulfillment through material means.
1See Genesis 1:26. 2Science and Health, p. 468. 3John 14:27. You can find more articles about spiritual healing in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE It is the spirit the quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. John 6:63