Euphoria — A strong feeling of great well-being or elation. An excited state of joy, intensely pleasurable. A feeling or activity characterized by its extreme intensity. Elevated mood. Euphoria is a desirable and natural occurrence when it results from happy or exciting events. An excessive degree of euphoria that is not linked to socially acceptable behavior is characteristic of an abnormal mental state. It can be associated with mood swings sometimes caused by intense religious experience, sexual pleasure, or drugs, etc, in which somebody is so dominated by an emotion that self-control and sometimes consciousness is lost.
Some of your earliest impressions as a child never leave you. Never...
Our next-door neighbor, Mr. Stephens, just about broke our door down when he came screaming into our house telling us that he had found his daughter dead on the living room floor. In between the garbled communication and scurry I kept hearing the word, "overdose." Nothing could console the man. He was beside himself in hysteria. My mother ran to the phone. Shortly afterwards the ambulance came, and I was surprised to see that Mr. Stephens was also taken. I kept looking at my mother and watching her reactions, "What's an overdose, Mom? Why are they taking Mr. Stephens away? What are they going to do with him?" A sharp "Shhh..." was all I heard, and quickly I was scuttled away to another room to sit with my older sister, who kept telling me, "Stop asking so many questions."
Later that evening I got out of bed and went down the stairs. Stopping halfway down, I overheard my parents talking privately in the kitchen below. I couldn't get everything they said as they were whispering very quietly, but then my father said something I never forgot: "She wasn't hooked on dope, Emily, she was hooked on the feelings of euphoria it gave her." That seemed so strange to me as a nine-year-old child. I dared not come into the kitchen to ask anything at that point. (I found out later from my sister what euphoria meant.) I had known Mr. Stephens' pretty eighteen-year-old daughter, and she had always been very kind to me. How could Stephanie's feelings kill her, I wondered? I couldn't understand. She hadn't looked sick to me.
Everyone in my family was very quiet for the following week. There was a cloud of something heavy, almost foreboding, that seemed to creep inside our own house, but I couldn't figure out what it was. Eventually, life went on, and I heard Mr. Stephens was living somewhere else now. He didn't want to come back to his house.
You would never think that "feelin' good" would create such a nightmare. But it did, and it does. For Mr. Stephens' daughter, Stephanie, the role these emotions played in her life led first to addiction, then overdose, and ultimately death.
In many cases these intense, emotional sensations of euphoria can influence very positive experiences. But more often than you would think, it results in very damaging, immoral, or even deadly consequences. Depending on the stimulus, once something is introduced to the emotions, the personality and character of a person can radically change -- for the rest of his life. This is especially true if it pertains to an acquired perversion. A lot of children have such experiences with "the new kid in the neigborhood" -- experiences that can take a lifetime to heal.
For some people, even drinking a Coca-Cola, a cup of coffee, a beer, or a glass of wine can stimulate a sense of euphoria. They get a "buzz" from such stimulants. The caffeine or alcohol content within the bloodstream, interacting with the brain's nervous system, triggers the release of chemicals to produce that feeling of euphoria. But the dark "magic" behind this induced euphoria is that it can over-stimulate a person's emotional responses, triggering desires that take him far beyond his normal inclinations.
Thoughts and experiences, or an association to someone or something, can also generate these intense feelings of pleasure, as well as such things as fine clothing, chocolate, exotic food, sports, drugs, antiques, expensive cars, sexual images, money, and comforts of every sort. Movies can trigger emotional responses vicariously, stimulating the brain to release chemicals that produce an overwhelming urge or passion to have or do something. Yet whatever the stimulus, we are not helpless in the face of our desires. We are equipped with a will by which we can choose what to give ourselves to.
From our earliest impressions as babies to old age, the appeasing of these feelings of euphoria often guide our path in life. They potentially mold and shape our character and our future. Very strong emotions tend to dominate or preoccupy our attention and time. The gratifying of desires becomes the underpinning for many decisions we make in life, including our occupations, relationships, sexuality, pursuits, and ambitions.
People get "hooked" on certain things because of the pleasurable feelings of euphoria. Normal pleasures no longer satisfy in comparison to the "high" that comes from their over-stimulated brain.
Although you may never have thought of it in this way, anything that pushes you past the objections of your conscience is idolatry in the eyes of God. Ultimately, it leads to the destruction of the characters and lives of everyone involved.
The ability to experience euphoria is part of the human makeup, but it was only meant to come from one source — fulfilling your created purpose. Substances, occupations, worship, and human relationships that are approved by our Creator fulfill both body and soul and foster healthy and happy families and societies. All other stimulation is idolatry.
It isn't the alcohol itself, but it's the dependence upon the feelings induced by the alcohol that characterizes idolatry. You are overcome emotionally and become obsessive in behavior. This is what led Stephanie to her untimely death with drugs. Anything that arouses your mind, emotions, and will to a spiritual, emotional, or physical state of devotion is idolatry — unless the stimulant is love for your spouse and/or your Creator.
"By what a person is overcome, by this he is also enslaved."1
When you nurture unrighteous desires, your personality and character can be completely transformed. You go from a state of natural righteousness to degrees of unrighteousness and depravity. The more you reject your conscience, the more you will be tempted with other fallen desires. Thus, you derive pleasure from doing what is evil.2 Your ability to analyze situations objectively becomes more and more impaired. It is overpowered by your passions and desires.
Generally, the more you yield to the lower inclinations of your nature, which are never fully satisfied, the more enslaved you become to your fallen appetites and desires. Like a ship whose rudder is no longer fully functional and which will soon shipwreck, someone who no longer functions according to the natural law in his conscience (doing what is right) will lose his ability to judge matters objectively and will go way off course. He is no longer responsive to the instinctive law within him and is therefore given over to doing what is unnatural.3 A person in this state has corrupted his own soul, which is made up of the intellect, emotions, and will. He lifts up his soul in worship to another god. He will pay in his own personality the due penalty for the error of his ways.4 Idolatry stimulates this kind of emotional response that glorifies another god.
Such a person tends to lean more and more compulsively towards an addictive state of being, in which he is controlled by his base appetites. His god is his "belly" (appetites, physical or otherwise) which always demands to be filled. That which is empty always seeks to be filled.
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
"Do not be deceived; bad company corrupts good morals."5
Sometimes, people are introduced to certain practices or exposed to certain perversions by means of induction.6 A perversion results from deviating from a natural point of reference, which is replaced by one that is abnormal. This process of spiritual or moral induction usually comes through the influence of another person, often by either physical touching or other sexual advance. Usually, it is something that captivates or stimulates your emotions.
You are opened up to or made aware of something you had never known or experienced before. From that point on, begin to feed that newly acquired compulsion. Through the induction process, an aberration7 or perversion begins to form within your emotional and mental make-up, causing you to deviate from the truth. Normal, healthy emotional or sexual behavior now fails to trigger those feelings of euphoria. In its place is an aberration — now only evil desires or perversions lead to euphoria.
When selfishness prevails, relationships begin to break down. If it reaches the point that you are no longer willing to bear the personal cost of loving your friend or wife or husband, the basis for true relationship is gone. If this is the case in a marriage relationship, you will become vulnerable to other morally corrupting influences, leading to jealousy, adultery, and divorce. Such emotionally based choices in disregard of conscience reveal the fundamental principle of idolatry at work.8 Whatever is emotionally satisfying becomes an object of worship.
There is an inherent, natural desire in every person to be dedicated and devoted to something. This desire was meant to be satisfied by God alone. We are not truly whole apart from devotion to our Creator. As human beings we bear the image of our Creator, but when we are not devoted to the one true Source of our life, that image becomes distorted, deformed, warped, and twisted out of shape. If we continue in this way, we eventually forfeit our very humanity. How vital it is that our souls come under the authority of our supreme Creator! Otherwise, idolatry is inescapable.
You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not bow down to them nor worship them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:3-6)
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalms 24:4-5)