Every day, nearly 200 Americans die from a drug overdose. Millions more across the nation are unable to find freedom from addiction. In October 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. But Gary Blackard, president and CEO of Adult and Teen Challenge, says the opioid crisis is not a political problem; it’s a spiritual one. He believes this addiction is fueled by spiritual warfare.
“We believe Satan is directing this epidemic, using it as a way to kill people and destroy families,” Blackard says. “Every day, we see stories about parents being separated from their children, imprisoned for their drug use or imprisoned for the crimes they committed because of their addiction. This scene is at the forefront of not only the United States, but around the world, and it’s a very, very spiritual battle. If you don’t fight it spiritually, you miss that opportunity to really see Christ transforming lives.”
Though some believe addiction could never affect them or their loved ones, for many believers, it already has. In a recent online survey conducted by Charisma Media, 84% of respondents said they or someone they know has been addicted to drugs. Drug addiction affects every race, class and religion without discrimination—and it’s only growing worse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that from 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people died of a drug overdose. Of the 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017, around 68% overdosed on an opioid. That number is six times higher than in 1999.
So how can Spirit-filled believers push back and shift the atmosphere in America? Charisma spoke with multiple sources—from addicts to parents to professionals—about the spiritual side of this national crisis for the Charisma News Podcast’s “Addicted” series (available now on cpnshows.com). Their stories, presented one by one, offer definitive proof that the Holy Spirit is still in the miracle-working business.
When Angel Colon woke up from a cocaine-induced blackout, his face was covered in blood. His bedroom appeared ransacked. Furniture was tossed upside down. When he asked his roommates what happened, no one knew.
But Colon did.
“What I didn’t tell my roommates at that moment was that I had a lot of nights where I had spiritual warfare,” Colon says. “There were a lot of nights where I fought with demons. … I would wake up at night [and] I would literally hear demonic voices, and I’d fight with them, but even though I was in the world, I would rebuke them. I would pray, and they would go away.”
Colon made international headlines when he was one of 49 people wounded in the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016. Most people know his story because the Lord set him free from homosexuality. But Colon says he rarely gets to share about freedom from another addiction—hardcore drugs.
Colon first turned to drugs when his father, a pastor, had an affair.
“I thought if my dad did this and he was a man of God, then I could live the way I wanted to,” Colon says. “That’s when I turned into an alcoholic.”
From drinking, he turned to ecstasy, cocaine and poppers, a euphoria-inducing drug that leads to intense muscle relaxation.
“I would hear voices every time I went into a club or a party,” Colon says. “They would tell me I didn’t belong here. It was the Holy Spirit, and I would take a few more bumps of cocaine to drown out the voice.”
Still, he denied he had an addiction—until the night he believes he wrestled with a demon. That’s when he invoked the faith of his youth and commanded the demons to leave in the Name of Jesus. But the experience shook him to his core.
“After that moment, I realized I had a serious problem,” Colon says. “And I realized the enemy wanted to take me out.”
Colon was desperate to break the addiction, so he prayed one of the most dangerous prayers of his life.
“I told God to do whatever [He needed to do] to bring me back to Him,” Colon says.
He prayed that prayer in 2015, about a year before he was shot approximately six times by a gunman at Pulse. Incredibly, Colon says the shooting actually saved his life. Because of his blood loss, he received a transfusion that saved him from going through painful withdrawals from the cocaine.
Colon says he is now completely clean, despite the repercussions of the shooting.
“I wake up every morning and see my scars, and it just gives me a chance to say, ‘Thank you, Lord,’ because not everyone has this chance,” he says. “There are others who gave their whole lives and are not here today, so I want to give everything I have to God. He is worthy of it all—all my praise. Everything I do is for Him and nobody else.”
Colon’s powerful testimony is something to celebrate.
By the grace of God, he never experienced an overdose, but other Christian families have to hold fast to their faith when addiction steals the life of their loved ones.
Robyn Korn’s teenage son, Tim, died of a heroin overdose in 2010.
“He was one of the first [overdose deaths] before the heroin epidemic became really big,” Korn says. “He was on the beginning wave of the heroin epidemic in Shelby County, Alabama.”
By the church’s standards, Korn did everything right. She raised her two sons in church. They attended Sunday school and youth group. Tim was even baptized at a conference hosted by a Spirit-filled church. He was also actively involved in Boy Scouts. Still, the addiction took root.
Korn says she believes two main factors contributed to Tim’s addiction. First, the Korn family had relocated from overseas when Tim was in middle school. The only friends he could find were alcoholics and peers who smoked pot on a regular basis. Second, Korn’s husband left the family when Tim was just 15.
“To go from a two-family income to a single-mom income impacted Tim’s perspective,” Korn says. “He was used to being able to have many things, and we really had to cut back. Plus, he went from having an active dad in his life to somebody who was no longer around at all. I think that created a lot of pain.”
Tim went from drinking to marijuana to pills to heroin. But Korn kept fighting for her son’s life and future with the help of the church.
“I never realized how much I was on my knees before God lifting Tim up, asking for help with him,” Korn says. “Every Sunday, I was up front getting prayer, and I wasn’t ashamed to do that. I knew I needed God’s help.”
Church elders connected Tim to counseling services and even tried interventions on multiple occasions. Korn says many men in the church stepped in as father figures, taking her sons to monster truck rallies and other activities. The women of the church surrounded Korn with love, support and comfort, even on her darkest days.
“It was my 50th birthday, and Tim ended up going to juvenile detention center that night, but there was a group of women who took me out just to celebrate [my birthday] with me,” Korn says. “I knew I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t the only one trying to muddle through this.”
People from the church met Korn at the hospital when Tim overdosed but didn’t die. They also were the first people on the scene after paramedics when addiction ultimately took Tim’s life.
Korn believes that it’s this effort that allowed Tim to return to God in the months just before his death.
“He realized he needed God’s help in trying to get out of this addiction process, and he would ask people for prayer,” Korn says.
Six weeks before Tim’s death, he was arrested for drug-related charges and sent to jail. While behind bars, he wrote a letter to his mother saying he was ready to be clean.
“He had hit rock bottom for a while, but I think adult jail really opened his eyes to what he wanted to do with his life,” Korn says. “… He said the problem with addiction is that when you can stop, you don’t want to, and when you want to stop, you can’t. While Tim recognized he was an addict, he was very careful to prevent others from going down that path.”
Korn says after his death, many people told her stories of how he tried to protect others from addiction. And even in Tim’s death, Korn still saw the grace and mercy of the Lord. Two people accepted Christ after Tim’s death, including his girlfriend. She was baptized in the very church Tim was raised in.
Today Korn uses Tim’s death to minister to other families devastated by addiction.
“There is hope, and God can walk you through it,” Korn says. “The one thing I have found in Tim’s death is that I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for the grace of God. A loss like this is so devastating, but much more so if you don’t have the hope and grace of God to support you through it.”
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SOURCE: Charisma News