In recent years, the fashion industry popularized a style of model and advertising that glamorized a gaunt body with a drug-abused look called "heroin chic." Well, there is nothing fashionable, stylish, or lovely about heroin use. Or any drug use.
The 1960s were a time of experimentation and exploration, and drugs were a part of that scene. While soldiers my age were fighting a war in Vietnam, my friends and I were fighting to make a personal statement about our individuality. The honorable obedience of those veterans who fought that war cannot be compared to the indulgence of an immoral lifestyle. Nevertheless, that period of history produced a generation of veterans those of a war and also those of an era many of us processing the eventual homecoming into a world that could not quite comprehend what had happened in our individual jungles or in our collective battles.
When you hear about drug addiction, it's easy to overlook that every stage of sorrow and despair begins with a certain naivete or ignorance. It did for my friends. They didn't all wake up one morning and say, "Hey, wouldn't it be great to become drug addicts?" What they did was promise each other that they would be different from the rest. They would use drugs but not get addicted. They would experiment, but not enough to get hurt.
I don't like to imagine how many of them are still standing today, but I know they didn't all make it. And I know they were all changed. Look into the eyes of former drug users and see the lessons learned and how hard those lessons were won.
I can't tell you how my friends processed the pain of their experiences. But I can tell you how prayer and love pulled me through these difficult times and how grateful I am to be here to tell the tale.
The first time I ran away from home I was 14. At 16, I dropped out of high school. (Boy, was I grown up no one could tell me what to do.) I left home so often, my mother began to sew money into the facings of my clothes in case of an emergency. My mom was a Christian Scientist, and she asked someone who had known me since I was a baby to pray for me.
The Bible tells about a time when Peter was bound in chains, in between two jail guards in a prison cell (see Acts 12). An angel of the Lord appeared and woke him up, and Peter and the angel simply left the prison, unnoticed. In fact, it wasn't even until he found himself on the outskirts of town that Peter realized he was with an angel, not a person.
Drug use is another form of prison. You become captive to craving, chained to the deception that this is making you feel "better" about yourself, your life. You may have entered into this prison on your own steam, but it is doubtful that you can be freed without awaking to a spiritual reality greater than your own willpower.
Years after I was freed from this dark prison, I asked the friend who had prayed for me why her prayers were so effective, while my own were less effective. "Because I love you more than you love you," was her reply. Her prayers sent the angel that freed me from this prison.
A book that has helped me gain a deeper appreciation of true freedom is "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy. She wrote, "Truth brings the elements of liberty. On its banner is the Soul-inspired motto, 'Slavery is abolished.' The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love" (pg. 224).
I thank God every day for my homecoming.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.
Christian Science Hymnal