The Seventh-day Adventist Church has long worked with the issues of addiction and addictive substances. In 1848, even before the Church was formally established and named (1863), Ellen White, one of our co-founders, received instruction about the dangers of tobacco, tea, and coffee. Independently in the late 1820s, Joseph Bates, a ship’s captain, and another co-founder, had given up the use of alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, flesh foods, and grease. When asked why, he answered that he had enough of those things.
With an increasing awareness of the damaging effects of alcohol since the 1780s and the birth of Temperance societies as well as Prohibition, it is not surprising that the Seventh Day Adventist Church enthusiastically embraced the Temperance movement. The Adventist Health Message is a wholistic message that includes physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and relational well-being. This is strongly supported by Scripture and significantly amplified by the writings of Ellen G. White.
For a number of years, scientific opinion was divided following Renaud’s publication of the French Paradox in the Lancet Medical Journal (June 20, 1992), implying that alcohol, namely wine, was protective against coronary artery disease. Some decades later, careful epidemiological research and appropriate attention to confounding factors have overwhelmingly confirmed that, in fact, there is no health benefit from alcohol. The burden of alcohol-related cardiovascular disease and cancer has further emphasized that there is no safe level of alcohol intake!
We have the duty and privilege as well as the tools to share a message of hope and liberation from the shackles of addiction. Breathe Free 2.0 has assisted many to give up smoking around the world, and Adventist Recovery Ministries Global, a Christ-centered addiction recovery program, is helping people find help for all forms of addictions and unhealthy compulsions. Writing about recovery from addictions, Ellen White appealed: “This is a class that demands help. Never give them occasion to say, ‘No man cares for my soul’.” Ministry of Healing, 171.
The evidence is robust and compelling that resilience is key to the prevention of addictions and at-risk behaviors in all age groups and especially in young people. The Youth Alive program is ideally suited to foster resilience and continues to be successfully implemented in many regions. (see page 2 for more details on these resources)
There is a huge need globally. We have the tools. We must act. “If not us, who? If not now, when?” May the Holy Spirit stir and strengthen our resolve.