Extra Resources: E 134 The Use and Abuse of Drugs

Questions for group discussion

  1. Identify and list what drugs you consume
  2. Identify some ways in which you use drugs (whether ampliative or therapeutic) to control and manipulate your body.
  3. Identify and discuss how drugs can help us be more personally present to each other. And identify and discuss how drugs militate or stop us being more personally present/enjoying greater communion with each other.
  4. Assess whether abstinence is the most faithful path of Christian witness in relation to the drugs you use? If you think it is, discuss why you think Christians should abstain from these kinds of drugs?
  5. What is the difference between Christian communion at the Eucharist and the drug induced communion experienced at a Rave or nightclub?



  • Leslie Iversen, Drugs: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).


  • David T. Courtwright, Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2001). Sets the modern use of psychoactive substances within a wider political and economic historical context.
  • Richard Davenport-Himes, The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Social History of Drugs (London: Phoenix Press, 2001). A book full of sweeping asides, some very strange comments and many unsubstantiated claims, but overall, it does set out the facts of what happened and when.
  • Drugs and Narcotics in History, eds. Roy Porter and Mikulá_ Teich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). A very good academic collection of essays on the history of drugs.

Pastoral care:

  • Kenneth Leech, Drugs and Pastoral Care (London: Darton Longman and Todd, 1998). One of the very few other Christian responses to drugs. Leech was the founder of the Soho Drugs Group in 1967 and also Centrepoint in 1969, an all-night shelter for homeless young people and has been commenting on the Christian response to the drugs scene since the 1960¹s. Leech has also written a report for the Board of Social Responsibility of the Church of England entitled ŒDrugs and the Church¹ For a summary see: www.cofe.anglican.org/view/intro.html (listed under ŒSocial Policy¹)

Medical ethics & drugs

  • Carl Elliott, Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2003). A lucid, engaging read that provides a very good and important critique on the whole area of enhancement technologies.
  • On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives in Medical Ethics, eds. Stephen Lammers and Allen Verhey (Michigan, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), see especially chapters 2 & 6-9. The basic resource book on medical ethics.

Web sites

All the organisations listed below focus specifically on the use of illegal drugs and substance abuse.

  • DrugScope is the leading independent centre of expertise on drugs. Its aim is to provide quality drug information, promote effective responses to drug taking, undertake research at local, national and international levels, advise on policy-making, encourage informed debate and speak for our member organisations working on the ground. It has extensive material available on its website.
  • ELISAD is the European internet gateway to information on the internet about alcohol, drugs and addictions. It provides descriptions of and links to over 500 evaluated European websites and other Internet resources, from 33 countries, on the use and misuse of drugs and other psychoactive substances.
  • Oasis Youth Action has a number of initiatives related to educating young people about drugs.
  • Hope UK is a drugs education charity founded on Christian principles. It focuses on primary prevention so as to prevent drug related harm at source ­ seeking to encourage children and young people to consider drug-free options for their lives. Education resources for churches are available from its web site.

Other resource organisations

  • ECOD (Evangelical Coalition on Drugs) - Tel: 0207 582 0228. Evangelical Alliance, Whitefield House, 186 Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 4BT
  • Narcotics Anonymous - Tel 0207 251 4007; 24 hr helpline: 0207 730 0009 202. City Road, London, EC1V 2PH
  • National Drugs Helpline - Tel 24 hr: 0800 776600

Author: Dr Luke Bretherton

Luke is Lecturer in Theology and Ministry at King's College, London. Previously, he has worked for the South East Institute for Theological Education, the St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, and CARE. In addition, he was an organiser of Abundant, a collective of Christians who put on arts, dance and worship events that provided a creative alternative to the drug based dance scene in London.

Books by Dr Luke Bretherton

View all books by Dr Luke Bretherton