Dear Billy Graham: I tried cocaine

I don’t know about you, but I’ve missed Billy Graham. I’ve been reading his mail for years. I fell off while I wasn’t blogging, but now that I’m back in the swing of things, I thought I should look up the old guy and see what advice Billy Graham’s ministry is giving away these days. I’ve gotten this from his answers website:

I don’t know how it happened, but I’ve gotten hooked on cocaine. My wife is threatening to leave me if I don’t stop, but I don’t know where to turn. You’ll probably tell me to turn to God, but what good will that do?

A blogger friend of mine once noted the likelihood that these questions are posited by Graham’s staff rather than actual people is very likely, but let’s pretend this is an actual guy in this situation.

“I don’t know how it happened..”

Well, I expect you must have tried some and liked the feeling you got because of it. Same goes for me and Doctor Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Pick your addiction.

Graham’s “advice” in this case:

I’m thankful you know you need help; one of the tragic side effects of some drugs (including cocaine, I’m told) is that they deceive a person into thinking drugs make them better. But it’s simply not true — as countless broken lives can attest.

First, let’s clarify. Cocaine used to be legal. It was an ingredient in Coca-Cola for flip’s sake, hence the name of the product., a valuable resource, has details from its creation in 1885 and the growing concern about the cocaine elements at the time.

Candler and Robinson were anxious to continue promoting the supposed benefits of the coca leaf, but there was no reason to risk putting more than a tiny bit of coca extract in their syrup. They cut the amount to a mere trace.

That being “as little as 1/400 of a grain of cocaine per ounce of syrup” Snopes notes, as the contents allowed by 1902, but:

back in 1885 it was far from uncommon to use cocaine in patent medicines (which is what Coca-Cola was originally marketed as) and other medical potions. When it first became general knowledge that cocaine could be harmful, the backroom chemists who comprised Coca-Cola at the time (long before it became the huge company we now know) did everything they could with the technology they had available at the time to remove every trace of cocaine from the beverage. What was left behind (until the technology improved enough for it all to be removed) wasn’t enough to give a fly a buzz.

In terms of cocaine’s legality these days, it really depends on where you live. Mexico and the Czech Republic allow small doses (whatever that amounts to gram-wise) and the UK is reported as allowing it as medical pain relief in certain cases. Same goes in some German states. Anywhere else, check before trying…

In terms of broken lives, again, it depends where you live. Take Portugal as an example. For at least 12 years they’ve pulled the focus away from users as criminals and more toward users in need of assistance.

Warnings, reminders and invitations to rehab — it seems Portugal’s war on drugs is a gentle one. “Humanistic and pragmatic” is how João Goulão describes the new program. It is based on decriminalization, which should not be confused with legalization. Portugal considered that path too, but ultimately decided not to take things quite that far.

When Portugal’s parliament was debating the proposed Law 30/2000, representatives of right-wing parties declared that planes would start arriving in the country daily, full of people looking for an easy opportunity to pump themselves full of drugs. Our entire country will become a drug-ridden slum, these parties said. The left-wing parties in parliament held a majority, though.

Goulão sits in his office and pages through charts, tables and graphs that are just some of the great quantity of data his team has collected over the years.

Amount of drug use has risen a bit but use by teens has fallen. More addicts have agreed to rehab, and HIV exposure has dropped enough to be newsworthy. Three cheers for Portugal, frankly. They still have work to do with this, but they seem to be sensible with their plans here.

What does Billy suggest?

Yes, I will urge you to turn to God because I’m convinced He will make a difference in your life. He knows all about your situation, and He loves you and wants to help you. And He can help you, because He can give you the strength and wisdom you need to find answers to your problem. Admit your helplessness and failures to Him, and by faith invite Christ to come into your life. Even now He is praying for you.

The bold is there so I can ask a very pertinent question:

Who would God pray to if there is supposed to be only one god?

Billy Graham doesn’t say. Perhaps no Christian would have a satisfactory answer to my question. Jesus may be the son of God but is also considered God, is he not? (Pick your verse in terms of yes or no here.)

Let’s just ignore that conundrum for now.

“Admit your failures and invite Christ” — okay, well, this is assuming the guy isn’t already Christian. I am technically Christian if this is all that’s required to be Christian. Many years ago I went with friends on a Youth retreat to a bible college and got a free bible if I agreed to let Jesus be my personal saviour and prayed every day. I cried a lot, I followed the instructions, and felt really good.. for a while..

And then I got bored.

And forgetful.

This method only works as a means of keeping people faithful and biblical when people are surrounded by people 24/7 who promote that mindset and are intent on living it every day of their lives. My family wasn’t, therefore I wasn’t. I spent many more hours around my secular family than I may have spent around religious friends – and I had a full complement of those.

How will Christ help you? First, He will give you a new purpose in life — a desire to live for God and for others, and not just for yourself. He’ll also give you inner strength to face your problems and turn your back on things that could destroy you. Jesus’ promise is for you: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

And when this doesn’t work, it won’t be the fault of Jesus, will it? No. It will be your fault, you sinner.

In addition, God wants to guide you to obtain practical help to fight this problem. Look for a church which seeks to follow Christ; its pastor should know what treatment programs are available in your area. You also may find new friends there, who not only can encourage you spiritually but have faced similar problems themselves. May God bless you.

No, no, no. Don’t just try the church. You don’t need people praying in your direction right now. You need strategies to overcome the pull of the cocaine so you don’t fall deeper into use and really impair your chances of getting back to a “normal” life – however you may be defining it. Strategies and proper help are available through so many groups. If you want a church-based group, go ahead, but there are other options for treatment.

In Canada, start here:
The Anti-Drug Strategy

(Edit July 15 2014, 11:09 — have taken out scientology crap and am adding The Drug and Alcohol Helpline which is probably a better place to be getting some real help.)

Prayers to Jesus may sooth you, but in order to achieve any positive results, you need to put some effort into quitting. And remember: you don’t have to do this alone.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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2 Responses to Dear Billy Graham: I tried cocaine

  1. Laurance says:

    NARCONON?? NARCONON?? Narconon is a Scientology Front Group. Good gawd!

    No no no!

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    Oh crap.. really? I’ll look for a better link and fix that. Clearly wasn’t doing a proper job there.. thanks for the quick correction.

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