I recently watched an excellent documentary done by Louis Theroux on the epidemic of Crystal Meth. I embedded the 56 minute video at the bottom of this blog. It is well worth the time to watch it. We have a pandemic in this nation, and drug and alcohol use is only a symptom of the actual problem. Watch this video, or talk to drug abusers and you’ll quickly find out that the pandemic is mostly one of absent fathers. Men who physically, emotionally, and sexually abuse women and children–or who walk away from the home–cause abusers to begin the process of self-medication. We all go through pain in our lives, but when we don’t have a stable home with a father we can share our problems with, we must deal with the pain through some other avenue.
In 2005, the U.S. spent $500 billion on the aftermath of substance abuse. Of $374 billion spent by U.S. and state governments, less than 2% was spent on prevention. This CNN report includes figures that should make us shudder. As a society that claims to be so advanced, we are less than wise with how we handle our nation’s drug problem. Spending that kind of money on the aftermath of drug abuse while not addressing prevention is insane. Literally.
But drug use is not a story about money. It’s a story about brokenness. Watch the video and look at the pain in all of the addicts’ lives. Look at the generational cycles of abuse. Look at the absence of fathers. Listen to the stories of sexual abuse. We can boil drug and alcohol prevention down to this plea: “Fathers, you are needed.”
Men, don’t get women pregnant and run off. Give children stability by giving them a home where they can see a mother and father who love each other enough to get married and where children don’t have to live in constant anxiety of wondering if they will see their dad again. Listen to your children. Protect them. Teach them right from wrong. Get over yourselves and don’t yell and scream in front of your children. Don’t talk about how nice that lady’s a$# looks in front of your children (yes, I’ve heard men say things like this in front of their kids and saw a man walk into the “adult” section of our local movie store with his 5 or 6 year old daughter in tow).
If fathers were present in their kids’ lives, and I mean really present, the need for people to self-medicate would be greatly reduced. According to the CDC, rates of ADHD increased at a rate of 3% per year from 1997-2006, and increased at a rate of 5.5% per year from 2003-20071. What’s our answer? That’s right, it’s not prevention. . . it’s medication! In 2007, 2.7 million kids ages 4-17 were on medication specifically for ADHD. Before we jump the gun here, I’m not saying that all cases of ADHD are not valid diagnoses. What I am saying is that it should be troubling to us that, as we see high rates of broken families, failed marriages, unemployment, drug use among parents, children born out of wedlock, and high rates of child sexual abuse, perhaps studies should be done to see if there is a correlation between home life and child anxiety. I’m no genius, but I’m guessing the results wouldn’t really surprise us. Children should be carefree and safe. They should have a mom and dad who are committed in marriage and who spend time nurturing their children.
I am fully convinced that, if we are going to reverse the pandemic on drug abuse, child molestation, porn addictions, and the like, fathers are going to have to step up. We fathers need to set an example in our kids’ lives. We need to provide emotional stability. I love this proverb, and I live by it:
“Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you'” (Proverbs 4:1-6 ESV).