Sex, Drugs, & Rock-n-Roll

  • Published
  • By Chaplain Kris Cox
  • 31st Fighter Wing Chapel Office
The song "Sex & Drugs & Rock-n-Roll" by Ian Dury became a hit single in 1977. Since then, we've had this edgy three-word phrase to play around with, and pop culture periodically revisits it. 

It's one of those tongue-in-cheek phrases, embodying a cocktail of truth, sarcasm, desire, & fear. We yearn for the carefree and irresponsible lifestyle that sex & drugs & rock-n-roll would bring. But we also know the consequences (just watch the classic movie Spinal Tap). Even so, if we include alcohol in the "drug" category, many of us have flirted with the edge. 

I hope clients who have confided in me will concur that I'm no prude. My realism results largely from my own experiences. I, too, have lived life, and it is therefore pretty difficult to throw me a curve ball. So, I am much more inclined to journey with people rather than preach at them. A priest named Henri Nouwen wrote a book titled "The Wounded Healer." This is the model to which I aspire. 

In addition to my personal life, professional experiences have also formed me. Years ago and before my military chaplain days, I spent an eye-opening year as a chaplain at an inpatient treatment center for addictions. There, I realized how close all of us are to falling off the edge, and that we all have what it takes to be wounded healers in some way. 

So, we arrive at the main thrust of this article--addiction. We can be addicted to almost anything, but alcohol, drugs, sex, and money are typical offenders. These things are wonderful when they're under control (drugs by prescription, money to charity, safe sex, etc.), but any one of them becomes problematic when it takes over our lives, and in spiritual terms, becomes our "god." 

With this said, step one of the twelve-step recovery program makes sense: "We admit we are powerless over our addiction--that our lives have become unmanageable." In other words, our life has gotten out-of-control; the alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, or (insert your addiction here) has taken over. Addicts call this "hitting rock bottom." 

At the treatment center, I participated in group sessions. The stories people shared were amazing. One woman, a professional, drove four hours to a casino, though a raging blizzard in which no sane person would ever leave their house. En route, she hit a bear that had wandered onto the highway. Her car wrecked, she rented another and continued to the casino, where she gambled for 72 hours with no food or sleep, fueled only on caffeine, nicotine, and gambling adrenaline. She returned home penniless. 

I heard crazy DUI stories, including a farmer who ran over a parked car with his tractor while driving home from the bar (he had lost his driver's license and thought he could get away with driving his tractor). One gambler stole from his employer and his children, and had squandered his retirement account. Another had tragically sold his young child's innocence to pay a poker debt. Stomach-turning, out-of-control stuff! 

An addiction's wake of destruction isn't always nuclear in size; other common things I heard included regularly drinking a six-pack after work and passing out on the couch, going to work hung-over, hiding stashes of booze in weird places, getting busted for smoking pot on school property, and broken marriages due to porn. The list is really endless; all comparatively minor, but still out-of-control--still rock bottom. Their addiction had become their god. 

I hope you will take three things away from this article: 

First, know a sure sign of addiction--that life, or a part of it, has become unmanageable.
Second, when you encounter addiction, be willing to take action--to seek help for yourself or someone you know. 

Third, know there are people (professionals and lay persons) who do not think they are better than you, and who do not desire to judge or humiliate you. Rather, they recognize their own brokenness and are willing to journey with you as wounded healers, while you work to regain control and sanity in your life.

Mental Health:
Military Family Life Consultant:
Alcoholics Anonymous (local):
Alcoholics Anonymous: