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Addressing the root cause of drug use

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Our Catholic community needs to think very seriously about the issue of drug use through programs in our schools and parishes, says Archbishop Philip Wilson in his podcast this month.

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There have been a number of reports recently about the level of drug use in South Australia and the alarming number of people relying on amphetamines and other drugs to enhance their lives.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, from Ghana, who Pope Francis appointed as the first prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, has issued a statement about the difficulties associated with the use of drugs around the world. Here is an excerpt:

Clearly there is no single cause of drug addiction. Rather, there are many factors that contribute to it, among which are the absence of a family, social pressures, the propaganda of drug dealers, and the desire for new experiences. Every drug addict has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified. We cannot stoop to the injustice of categorising drug addicts as if they were mere objects or broken machines; each person must be valued and appreciated in his or her dignity in order to enable them to be healed. Cardinal Turkson, June 2017

I think it is really important that we reflect upon the facts and on the challenges that Cardinal Turkson offers us.

We know that when people talk about the issue of drugs they often talk about it as if it is a matter of discipline. If people would say no, or step aside from it, then there would not be a problem.

But when we think about the way people use drugs and why they use them, it leads to another set of issues. If as a community we are going to be involved in trying to help people avoid getting caught in the grip of drugs, then we have to look at the reasons why people do it.

Why do people think that they have to take drugs to enhance themselves and to cope with life and enjoy the things that surround them in the world. There is a need in people’s lives – in their spirts and in their hearts – that must be dealt with.

As with everything else, our answer has to be something that springs from our faith and our relationship with Jesus.

Our Catholic community needs to think very seriously about the issue of drug use through programs in our schools and parishes. We have to try to help people to realise that they have a terrific powerful life that comes to them from Jesus.

We have to provide them with the means of giving them the chance to develop their relationship with Jesus so that they are enhanced by that relationship in order to get the greatest enjoyment out of the lives they experience.

This is a challenge that I am laying before all of the administrators and leaders in our Church community today – I think we need to focus on this and we need to do something positive about it.

There’s no use just decrying it, saying it’s a terrible thing and hanging our heads in shame. We have to see what we can do, armed by what we believe, and change people’s lives by leading them into a closer relationship with Jesus which will give them the path to true happiness and joy in their lives.

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