Use of illegal drugs is common. For instance, in 2016, 3.1 million Australians reported using an illegal drug during that year alone, and over 40% of Australian’s have used drugs at some time in their life.(1)
Whilst some people use drugs occasionally without it becoming a problem or addiction, for others drug use can be life destroying. When drugs are used as a form of escape during times of crisis, the chance of addiction becomes far more likely.
“Stress is a well-known risk factor in the development of addiction and in addiction relapse vulnerability.” (2)
The loss, stress and depression that follows being abandoned and shunned by family makes Jehovah’s Witnesses particularly vulnerable to addiction after being disfellowshipped or becoming inactive. This may be because drug use is used as a form of self-medication, or because other drug users are the first people to replace lost Jehovah’s Witness friends, offering a new community.
Whilst we recommend avoiding illegal drugs, particularly during the initial and difficult period after leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses, we are in no way judgmental if you have inadvertently fallen into the grip of addiction. Your upbringing and abandonment have made you prime candidates. Do not be ashamed or afraid to admit you need help with addiction.
“There are a number of ways that you can go about getting help for your drug problem. These include:
Withdrawal programs – These programs involve detoxifying the person of the drug and can be run at a residential centre or in the community.
Self-help – Sharing experiences and providing support for each other can be a good way of finding ways of dealing with drug use. The main type of self-help treatments are mental illness support groups run through community support agencies and Narcotics or Alcoholics Anonymous.
Controlled use – This type of treatment can help you use drugs in a safer way. This is usually offered by a community support agency who can provide information, accommodation, help with finding suitable work and housing as well as training and education.
Counselling – Counselling can help rechannel damaging thoughts about taking drugs and develop different ways of coping with these thoughts.
Medication – Certain medications can help ease the cravings that can make it hard to stop using some drugs.” (3)
If you feel you may be forming a drug addiction, or recognise you have one, please reach out for help. Talk to a trusted friend, doctor or help line. You will not be looked down on for having an addiction, rather you will be respected for your bravery to admit you have a problem. Many former Jehovah’s Witnesses have overcome drug addictions, some brave enough to share their experiences on this site.
Drug Addiction Help Lines
We endeavor to compile a list of drug addiction helplines in various countries and list them below. As we are unable to maintain a comprehensive list, if you are unable to find a help line in your country, please visit Wikipedia Suicide Crisis Lines. This contains an up to date list of suicide help lines in almost 100 countries, and most will be able to direct you to local assistance.
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Druginfo on 1300 85 85 84
Helpline: 01708 765200 supportline.org.uk/problems/drugs/
1 – healthdirect.gov.au/drug-abuse 16 Oct 2019
2 – Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction Rajita Sinha ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732004 16 Oct 2019