How I Became a Sunday Drug Abuser

Steve Hoppe | October 10, 2017

Three Xanax. Three Propranolol. Three Zoloft.

This was the prescription-pill combination I took before my first sermon as a pastor in New York City.

Xanax—an anti-anxiety medication—calmed my nerves in a way similar to alcohol, minus the motor-skill impairment. Propranolol—a beta-blocker—slowed my heart rate so I wouldn’t get flushed or sweat profusely. Zoloft—an antidepressant—was a medication I’d been taking for 10 years to keep my unpredictable anxiety in check.

After meeting with my psychiatrist earlier that week and sharing my fear of a panic attack in the pulpit, she gave me the Xanax and Propranolol prescriptions in addition to my normal Zoloft refill. She said I could take one of each before the big sermon. One Xanax. One Propranolol. One Zoloft. Three pills. That’s it.

Instead I took nine.

Why? Why did I triple my dosage that day?

Simple: Idolatry.

The idol? My congregation. I worshiped the people in the pews. The seats were packed with high-profile investment bankers, Broadway actresses, university professors, runway models—you name it.

To me, everybody in the sanctuary was impressive. And I needed to impress them. I needed their approval, affirmation, and acceptance. I needed them to love me. And I mean love me. I needed to floor them with a…

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