Drug Addiction Is Spelled D-E-A-T-H


Drug Addiction Is Spelled D-E-A-T-H

March 28th, 1971 @ 7:30 PM

Romans 12:1-3

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Related Topics: Abuse, Drugs, Sin, Weakness, alcohol, 1971, Romans
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Abuse, Drugs, Sin, Weakness, alcohol, 1971, Romans

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Dr. W. A.  Criswell

Romans 12:1-2

3-28-71    7:30 p.m.


On the radio of the city of Dallas you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church.  This is the pastor bringing an address, not a sermon; an address entitled Drug Addiction is Spelled D-E-A-T-H, death.  I read a Scripture as a background; the familiar and meaningful one in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Romans:

I beseech you therefore, my people, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God . . .

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

[Romans 12:1-2]

As I begin the address, may I remind you that I cannot speak the language of the underworld?  I have never been introduced to it, and when I listen to it, I am shocked beyond any way that I could describe it.

For example, behind a screen and the light beyond the screen show just the shadow of those who were standing there and the reason for their shadowy appearance was, according to the commissioner of customs and smuggling and narcotics and dangerous drugs, these men were informers.  They are men who lived in the underworld.  All their lives they had lived in the underworld.  And they had turned and become informers to the government.  They are called fingers, and they tell these undercover agents all of those who are engaged in this illicit traffic.  And their language is beyond anything I ever heard.  About half of their words, I don’t even know what they mean, and the other half are dirty.  For example, heroin is called, and they used it a thousand times it seemed to me; heroin is called that four-lettered word for human offal and excretion.  That’s heroin.

It is beyond anything that I have ever seen or heard.  They have a world of their own.  It is down and down and down.  I have never been an addict.  I have never been introduced to it.  Consequently, when I talk and deliver this address, it is altogether from the viewpoint of one who has been introduced to it, and I just lay before you what has been introduced to me.

First we are going to begin with definitions.  And I need this.  I cannot understand without it, so we shall begin with definitions.  Drugs, that is any substance that has any effect upon the mind or body.  Coming back Saturday from Washington I was offered liquor a half a dozen times.  These airplanes are flying bars.  And I said to the stewardess, “Did you know that is a powerful drug you have in your hand?”

She said, “What?  This wine?  It couldn’t be.”

It’s the most powerful drug for evil that is known to humanity.  Drugs, any substance that has an effect upon the body or mind.

Habituation, habituation: the psychological desire to repeat the use of a drug because of emotional reasons such as escape from tensions, dulling of reality, euphoria, getting high, living in an ephemeral world.  Habituation refers to the psychological need for a drug.

Addiction refers to the physical dependence upon a drug.  That brings into play the word tolerance.  Tolerance refers to that reaction of the body whereby the body requires a larger and larger amount of the drug to produce the same effect.  Tolerance.  Now, addiction also includes in it withdrawal, the symptoms of withdrawal.  Withdrawal refers to when the drug is stopped.  The withdrawal period is characterized by such distressing symptoms as vomiting and convulsions.  And when you use the word addiction you are referring to a physical dependence upon a drug that the human body has more and more tolerance for and needs larger amounts of it to produce the same effect.  And when it is stopped the user, the addict, falls into vomiting and convulsions.

Marijuana.  Marijuana is an easy to grow hemp plant.  It has long, narrow, jagged edged leaves growing like poorly spaced spokes on a wheel.  It grows about five feet tall in this country, and here in America it is relatively weak growing here.  But in Old Mexico the plants are twice as strong, and in India, in the moist, warm climate of India, it is four or five times as strong.  The flowering tops have a sticky resin, which produces the marijuana effect called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.  It is classified as a hallucinogen; marijuana.  Hashish, hashish, hashish is the dark brown purified resin extract prepared from the dried flowers of the hemp plant, the marijuana plant.  It is five times stronger than marijuana.  And it is hashish that you will see that is placed in brick form and attempted to be smuggled into America.

Now these are the words the underworld use, the addicting world uses, for marijuana.  It is called grass, hay, jive, maryjane, pot, tea, weed.  A marijuana cigarette is called a joint, a reefer, a stick, and the stub end of it is called a roach.  And they burn it down, because of the high price of it here, to that last little stick.  You saw them do cigarette butts like that you’d think they were stupid and insane.

Hallucinogens: these drugs are capable of provoking changes of sensation.  The resulting illusions, hallucinations, and delusions may be either minimum or overwhelming, depending on the person and the dose.

LSD is the most potent of all of the hallucinogens.  It comes from a fungus that spoils rye grain.  A Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann, accidentally discovered its mind-altering properties in 1943.  The word psychedelic is a term invented to describe some of the effects of LSD.  Now, in the underworld, LSD is called acid.  And a “good trip” is someone taking LSD who has pleasant imageries and emotional feelings.  But a bad trip, “a bummer,” results in terrifying images and emotions of dread and horror—hallucinogens, the most potent of which is LSD.

All right, stimulants:  stimulants are drugs which increase alertness, reduce hunger and provide a feeling of well-being.  The amphetamines are stimulants.  They have an effect upon the central nervous system, and they are the most dangerous of the stimulants.  Benzedrine, in the dark world is called bennies, beans, and cartwheels.  Dexedrine is called dexies, and methamphetamine, Methedrine, is called speed, crystal, crank, meth.  Now, these stimulants, these amphetamines, are—down there in that underworld—called pep pills, wake ups, eye-openers, co-pilots, truck-drivers and uppers.

Now sedatives: sedatives induce sleep.  In small doses they reduce tension and anxiety.  The barbiturates constitute the largest group of sedatives.  Down there in the underworld they are called goofballs and sleepers and downers.  The tranquilizers calm and relax and diminish anxiety.  Both sedatives and tranquilizers can be physically addicting.

Marijuana is not.  Withdrawal effects occur when the drug is stopped.  The most common mode of suicide with drugs is with these barbiturates, these sleeping pills.  Depressants or barbiturates produce impaired judgment, slow reaction timing, slurring of speech, staggering, loss of balance, a quarrelsome disposition, sometimes a coma and death.

Narcotics, narcotics relieve pain and induce sleep.  They are opiates.  Narcotics originally came from the opium poppy, a bitter yellowish-brown drug resin prepared from the dried juice of unripe pods of a poppy plant.

Morphine: one of the active components in opium and heroin; heroin is morphine chemically altered to make it six times stronger.  From the opium also comes codeine and paregoric.  There are many synthetic chemicals that have morphine like effects.  Heroin, that one drug heroin, accounts for ninety percent of the narcotic addiction problem.  In the underworld, down there, it is called “H,” it is called horse, it is called junk, it is called smack.  In all of the conversation I never heard it called any of that.  I heard it called by that other name.

Now the session at the White House: we met in the East Wing of the White House after nine o’clock, and we stayed in that session until 7 o’clock in the evening.  An aide said to me, “Ninety-eight percent of all the church members in the United States are represented here in this meeting.”  There were about sixty leaders.  On my right sat Bishop Sasedsky, head of the National Polish Catholic Church.  On my left sat the famous Rabbi Kirchner of New York City.  And this good old Baptist was right in the middle.

The meeting was opened by Egil Krogh.  They all called him Bud Krogh, assistant to the president for Domestic Affairs.  In his introductory remarks he said, “The final answer is out of the reach of government.”  He introduced Attorney General John N. Mitchell.  Because of his wife, Martha, I paid particular attention to his sartorial attire.

Attorney General Mitchell is an older man, but he was nattily dressed in a blue suit, in a white shirt, in a red and blue tie and a handkerchief to match, not nearly as well dressed as I am here tonight.  Now he impressed me.  From the attorney general, the government has conducted for two years an all out drive against drug abuse.  President Nixon called together the fifty governors to discuss the problem, then the radio, TV executives, and now you.

Drugs make a user a slave to sensation.  He asked the question, “Why not?”  “This is the reason we need to confer with you, the religious leaders of the nation.”

Krogh introduced John Ingersoll, the director of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.  He started his speech off with a joke.  He said that a visiting preacher passed the hat, and when the hat came back, he looked in it and there wasn’t a thing anybody had put inside.  He bowed his head for the prayer and said, “Dear Lord, I thank you that I got my hat back from this congregation.”  That is dedicated to Mr. Ramsour

John Ingersoll, the director of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, said, as you could know, I just take a few sentences out of the addresses they made, “The drug problem is as old as civilization.  Back in 5000 BC there was a drug problem.  There existed then as there is today a chemical religion with false prophets everywhere presenting its ephemeral bliss.”

And were you here the Sunday before?  Did you hear me talk about the ancient government of Babylon and the ancient civilization of that far-famed city?  And do you remember I said a part of that religion that goes back to Babylon is translated in the Bible, “sorcery” [Revelation 18:23].  The word is pharmakeia, pharmacy drugs, black magic.  Always there has been a culture, a religion, of drugs as far back as mankind can search in archaeological records.

Krogh then introduced Miles J. Ambrose, the commissioner of the Bureau of Customs.  And he spoke on smuggling.  I could not believe my eyes!  They had a display there half as long as this church is wide; from there to there.  And I was horrified!  A large percentage of that display was religious, Christian objects.  They would take a cross and stuff it with heroin.  Take a crucifix, a big one and in the back of it, solid heroin.  Take a bronze plaque of the Lord’s Supper and back of it, solid heroin.  Take candles they burn in cathedrals, the inside of them, solid heroin.  I couldn’t believe as I looked at it.  I held in my hands solid hashish.  It was in the form of ancient pottery.  Solid hashish; you’d never have guessed it in the earth.  And the only reason the custom official became suspicious of it was because it looked like cheap pottery, like you would dig up, but they had an enormous insurance on it!  Becoming suspicious they found it was solid hashish.

“The problem is compounded,” said Miles Ambrose, “because there are two hundred fifty million people who come into this country every year.”  Our citizens go and come, go and come, and others come.  And there are sixty-seven million parcels that are mailed into this country every year.

There is no heroin in America; all of it has to be imported.  It has to be smuggled in.  Nor, Dr. Laird, is there any medical use for heroin, none at all.  It is solely a drug addictive smuggling operation.  And yet that drug problem cost America, and that is us, that is we, it costs us 8 billion dollars a year!

There was a hush.  Everything stopped and somebody whispered to me, “The president is coming.”  He walked in.  We all stood and applauded.  He is personally one of the finest men you could ever meet.  He is warm hearted, very open and very dedicated.

I quote from the president, I may not be supposed to, but I wrote these things down as he spoke.  He said he was surprised that addiction starts at such an early age, even at twelve years of age.  “We cannot approach the problem,” he said, “with anger but with sorrow.  We can be angry at the pusher, at the junkie, but not at the addict.  We must seek after rehabilitation rather than punishment.  Why does a young person,” he said, “give up on the democratic system to turn to something he thinks leads to a way out but it doesn’t?  He has a spiritual need,” that young person, the president said.  “He has a spiritual need that must be filled.  If there is an answer, you gentlemen have it,” he said.  “That young person must have something to believe in, to turn to.  The worst thing that can happen to a young person is to have no faith and no belief in anything.  The heart of the problem is a spiritual vacuum.”  That’s the assize of the president of the United States.

John Broger introduced Chaplain Rowe, who had just come back from Vietnam.  And as I listened to that chaplain speak, my heart was filled with indescribable sorrow.  The men that are sent over there to fight for us in Vietnam are immediately introduced to the whole world of heroin and drug addiction.  Now, the tragedy of the situation in Vietnam is this.  For a salary of $200 a month, a soldier in Vietnam can buy the purest heroin uncut and live on it every day—on a salary of $200 a month.  When the soldier comes back to the United States, it takes a minimum of $1000 a day to keep up the addictive habit he acquired in Vietnam.  What happens to the soldier?  He disintegrates.  And the chaplain said that only in religious faith is there a hope for the return of that soldier to society.  “Religious faith,” he says, “is the cornerstone of rehabilitation.”

I read in a book that there are practically no men who ever become addicted to heroin, who ever come back into society and take their place as once they were.  The loss of human life in this drug traffic is sorrowful to make an angel weep.

Krogh introduced Dr.  Bertram S.  Brown of Harvard who is director of the National Institute of Mental Health.  Quoting President Nixon from an early address, Dr.  Brown said, “The problem has grown from one of vocal concern to one that threatens the future and well-being of America.”  Then still quoting the president, he said, “College is too late to face the problem.  High school is largely too late.  We must meet the problem in junior high and in elementary grades!  Fear and scare are not enough.  They must be told and taught the reasons for refusal to indulgence.”

At the lunch hour George Romney, three times governor of Michigan and candidate for the GOP nomination for president of the United States, George Romney spoke.  He is minister of Housing and Urban Development.  He preached a regular sermon.  That fellow is fervent.  One of the things that he said, and I thought I ought to share it with you, his appraisal of the present situation in which we live.  He said that “The Nixon administration inherited a greater crises than either Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt.” He said that their crisis were capable of explicit definition.  In the days of Lincoln it was slavery or freedom.  In the days of Franklin Roosevelt it was hunger or jobs.  But he said, “Today a crisis is of the spirit and defies definition.”  And he said, “We must have an answer that is spiritual!  And the drug problem is an illustration of this spiritual vacuum that has swept over America.”

Now, my words: drug addiction is spelled D-E-A-T-H.  I have a UPI story, out of the daily newspaper.  Datelined; Tacoma, Washington.  And I read from the UPI news story:

A railroad employee found the well-dressed body of a young man in a corner of an empty boxcar behind the Union Pacific depot.  In the jacket pockets were empty pillboxes and a billfold that identified the youth as—

and then it goes on to tell about the boy—

When the body was moved, a suicide note was found. It said, “Dear Dad,

Dope ruined my life and took away my happiness forever.  I thought I was experiencing life.  I found it was death!  I hope to God people taking dope find what I found in it sooner than I did.  Goodbye, Dad, your son.

Love, Ricky.”

You spell dope addiction D-E-A-T-H!  I went to Haight-Ashbury.  I was out there two or three times just looking at it.  When Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco began, it caught the attention of the world because of the idealistic flower-children who converged there.  And it looked as though there was appearing on the horizon of American life a new phenomenon.  Young people would travel all over the country to see it.  They had vaguely heard about the drug overtone involved.  But they had no introduction to it.  What did Haight-Ashbury develop into?

A knowledgeable writer spent many weeks with the youngsters on the streets, on the pads, and on their own.  Now I am going to quote from him.  This is the end of the flower children, the hippie movement.  I quote from him, talking about them:

They would share their food, most of which had been panhandled on the streets.  They would talk readily about free love but very little about the alarming rise of venereal disease brought on by such practices.  They even wore buttons saying, “Syphilis can be fun.”  Gradually the idealism of the streets gave way to con artists, thugs, exploiters and hardcore pushers, junkies, who made the whole community their victims.  Peace and love are gone from the streets of the district today.  All that remains is crime and violence and death!

Drug addiction is spelled D-E-A-T-H!  Why the drug problem?  And I have it summarized here so I can briefly present it.  Before I do, you are not going to like it, but I am bounden and responsible to declare the truth.  Why the drug problem?

Two reasons: one is found in our adult world, and the other is found in our young people’s world.  First, the adult world.  Why the drug problem?  It is because of our modern drug culture among adults.  For a growing number of adults, drugs are a way of life.  They take pep pills to get up, tranquilizers to get down, a cocktail to start the evening.  They can’t talk without it, can’t even carry on a conversation unless they are stimulated by some kind of a drug, like a cocktail to start the evening and a barbiturate to go to sleep.  There is an estimated ten billion capsules and dangerous tablets that are produced every year in this country, no small part of which finds its way down into the underworld.  The message of American advertising is cure your pains by chemicals.  Adults set a powerful example—the necessary cigarette.

I can’t get it in my mind.  When I came down here to look at this Institute on Basic Youth Conference, they had an intermission and all around this church house were women, women, women, girls, girls, girls out there smoking their cigarettes.  They can’t last through an evening without nicotine—a drug.  Necessary?  The necessary cigarette, the liquor before dinner, the diet pill, the sleeping pill, the tranquilizing pills, then when these same parents see their teenagers use drugs they call them thieves and criminals and degenerates!  The young people merely are following in their parents and society’s footsteps.  If there ever lived a hypocritical culture and a hypocritical generation, it is the present culture and the present generation of American citizens.

There is not a doctor in the land but that would stand up here and say to you, and we are going to get into that in this moment now, marijuana, marijuana is no more intoxicating and no more addictive and no more with overtones of tragedy than alcohol!  Let’s look at this attitude toward liquor, which is liquid pot!  Never, never; I was there, for example, all day long, and I have listened to people discuss this I don’t know how and for how long.  Never, never is it proposed to attack it or oppose it as they do other drugs!

Somewhat we are getting to the place where we are willing to face nicotine and the serious, serious effects of tobacco.  We are beginning to say to the advertising media, “You can’t bring that stuff into our living room and parade it there before our children, for it has death in the package, as emphysema and lung cancer.  You can’t do that!”  We are facing up to the truth of tobacco, but there are no proposals to face and to outlaw liquor and alcohol!  Rather, the turn of our society is in the other direction.  Texas is now in the process, legally, to establish what they said they would never establish again in the history of civilization; saloons on every corner, open saloons!  Texas is getting ready.  For example, look at this quote.  Now we are talking about marijuana and alcohol, both of them drugs.  One of them liquid, the other dry.  Now look at this quote.  I read from Dr. Donald B. Lowry, his book entitled Drug Scene.  Now listen to him:

The proponents for the legalization of marijuana point out that alcohol is a dangerous drug, which is perfectly legal in our society.

That’s right, isn’t it?  The proponents for the legalization of marijuana point out that alcohol, a dangerous drug, is perfectly legal in our society.  They say that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol is, and that’s right!  There’s not a doctor in the land that would stand up here and deny that.  That’s what the doctor is writing.  The proponents for the legalization of marijuana say that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol is.

Now, it seems to me that what men who are red-blooded, what they ought to do is stand up and say, “Then that means as we oppose marijuana we should also oppose alcohol!”  That’s what you would think they would say.  They don’t ever say it!  What do they say?  “All right.  Alcohol is a dangerous drug.  The question is simply whether we are to add to our alcohol burden another intoxicant.  In the United States there is currently a death from automobile accidents every eleven minutes and an injury every eighteen seconds.  Shall we add another intoxicant, such as marijuana, and increase the number of inebriated drivers and pedestrians and attain a death rate of one every five minutes and an injury every eight seconds?”

Never is it supposed to propose that we oppose all of these drugs that have deleterious effects upon the mind.  But liquor is a sacred cow.  We dare not speak of it.  We dare not touch it.  But the proposal is made; let us fight marijuana to the death because we already have one intoxicant drug that is decimating our people, slaughtering them on the highways, breaking up our homes and families.  “We already have one of them.  American society and American national life cannot stand another one.  Therefore, we oppose the entrance of marijuana.”  That is the reasoning of the educational and political and economic leadership of present day America.

We must hasten.  I said there were two reasons for the drug problem.  One is the hypocritical, indefensible example of these adults.  As I ride these airplanes, I cannot remember when anybody else on the plane refused liquor except me.  I cannot remember it.  No woman, no youth, no man, no anybody!  The whole world of America is sots, it drinks.  It is the exception that does not.  Then we turn around and look at that teenager.  All right.  There is an example in the adults; that’s why the drug problem.

Second: in the young people there is a lack of deep spiritual dedication on the part of youth.  Three things about them that lead them into drinking: one is curiosity and experimentation.  The other is peer pressure.  And I run across that word all the time.  Peer pressure.  That is, wherever the little boy is he will have a friend his own age that pushes him into it.  If there is a teenager she will have a friend her age that pushes her into it.  If it’s a young adult, he has a friend push him into it.  Peer pressure.  It means a lot to a youngster, to be in, to belong.  And third, why does a young person take drugs?  Curiosity.  Second: peer pressure.  Third, hedonistic pleasure, to have a good time in it.  As Dr. Nolan Estes said to me this morning, they are taught to believe, persuaded to believe, that happiness is just a pill away.  They are bored.  There is nothing else to do.  They will lose all of their worries, they say, and some of them are failures and this is the way out, to forget it.

Now if the youth is experimenting, he needs to be given the facts medically, socially and legally!  Drugs kill!  You spell them, D-E-A-T-H!  Drugs kill!  And these boys and girls that are experimenting with them need to be taught those awesome and terrible facts.  It kills body and soul, and you face a social problem.  You face a medical problem, and you also face a legal problem.

Second: if it is peer pressure, that youngster needs the strength of the Christian community.  His peers are Christians.  Here is a group; belong to them.  And that is why years ago, long before I ever faced any problem like this, long years ago before I ever thought of a problem like this, that is why I brought to this church and said, “By God’s help, we need a program down here to call these young people out of the dens and dives and the joints and bring them here where they can have a Christian fellowship and a Christian community.”

When you are out there, I don’t think a young person can finally say no.  They press and they push and they suggest, then finally mock and they ridicule, and most any young people will succumb!  We need a Christian community where the young person can belong to it, and they are not pushers, and they are not junkies, and they are not addicts, and they are not habituates, but they love God, and they are down here where they can support one another and love one another.  They can build their homes down here.  They can fall in love down here.  They can marry down here.  They can look forward to ever triumph in every future in unfolding years.

All right: if it is hedonistic pleasure, if the reason the youngster uses drugs is because of the kick he gets out of it and the excitement in him, we are dealing there with a moral and a spiritual vacuum.  The boy’s life, the girl’s life is empty, and he needs to reassess the meaning and purpose of life in Christ Jesus.  As one boy said, and that was one of the most moving things I ever read in my life, as one boy said, “I was helpless, I was hooked,” as they use the word.  “I was hooked, but I found a Savior in the Lord, and He saved me, and He delivered me, and He sees me through.”  That is the road, let’s walk in it.  This is the way, let’s follow it: the Jesus way, the glory road, the highway to heaven.

Are you a youngster?  Make your friends down here.  And when you are enticed out there, “No, no.”  Are you a teenager?  Make your friends down here.  And when it is suggested out there, “No, no.”  If you are an adult, put your life down here in the community of Christ.  When you are invited to deny the Lord, ”No.”  You spell drug addiction D-E-A-T-H!  You spell Jesus Christ L-I-F-E!

He said, “I am come that they might have L-I-F-E, and have it more abundantly, aboundingly, overflowing” [John 10:10].  Ah, my people, our children you, our teenagers and young people you, and our adults and parents you, let’s walk in the way of the Lord [Isaiah 30:21], and let God give us those rich benedictory, heavenly blessings that only the riches of God could afford.  In His gracious hands, how many precious gifts to bestow; and they are ours for the asking, for the having, for the taking, for the receiving.

Thank you for listening.  You’ve been listening almost an hour.  God in heaven, bless to our souls and our lives, all of who are older are examples, the message of the truth of this evening.

We are going to sing our hymn of appeal.  I am asking no commitment, not concerning this.  Just as God would press its truth and its message to your heart, answer faithfully and as unto the Lord.  I make no appeal, no invitation.  I ask no commitment.  Just as God shall speak to your heart, I do ask a commitment to Jesus, to take Him as your Savior.  Would you come down here and kneel with me?  “I want to give my heart to God, and I am coming tonight.”  Maybe to put your life in the sweet fellowship of this dear church.  Would you come?  A family you, a husband and wife you, just you, on the first note of that first stanza, come.  Make it now.  Do it tonight.  Where you are seated in the balcony, on the lower floor, make the decision in your heart now.  When we stand up in a moment to sing, stand up coming.  Down one of these stairways, into the aisle and to kneel here with the pastor at the front, “I am coming tonight, pastor, here I am.”  And may God see you through and may the angels of heaven go before [you].  “I am coming.  I am coming.”  Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.