When does an intoxicant become a medicine? It happens when the medicinal properties of the intoxicant benefit the human being. When does medicine become an intoxicant? When it no longer benefits the human being and the intoxicant has becomes an addiction.
“O, you who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; you shall avoid them that you may succeed.” (5:90)
And from the fruits of the palms and the grapes you obtain from them intoxication and goodly provision; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who understand. (16:67)
“They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say, 'In them there is a gross sin and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit.’” (2:219)
‘Khamr’ comes from the Arabic root word ‘Khamara’ which means ‘to cover’. So anything that ‘covers/khamr’ or obstructs the mind is prohibited. Intoxication is prohibited.
Painkillers are an example of something that benefits becoming a gross sin. If you take codeine for example to relieve pain then that is of benefit to the body, but if you take codeine for the high that it gives rather than the pain relief, then it becomes prohibited.
Heroin, codeine and morphine are all derivatives of the opium poppy. They are used to treat acute pain, chronic pain and terminal illness. Morphine is the most abundant alkaloid found in opium and it is an analgesic and an anaesthetic. Codeine is methylmorphine and is the second most abundant alkaloid in opium. Codeine is also a cough suppressant and has anti-diarrhoeal action so it has many beneficial medicinal properties.
By taking these chemicals over a long period of time the body becomes tolerant to it and more has to be taken to be effective. With prolonged use the body may become dysfunctional without it and dependency has occurred. This is when a medicine has become an intoxicant.
Cocaine was the first documented local anaesthetic used by a German chemist, but today cocaine addiction is a major problem in the world. All of the above mentioned drugs are used professionally to treat illness. They are of benefit to the human race. When the benefit no longer applies and abuse of the drug takes over this is when it becomes prohibited.
Alcohol has its place in medicine but when it is abused and drunk in place of all the other drinks available it is then prohibited. Alcoholism and drug abuse are widespread throughout the world. Not one race of people is unaffected by this dilemma. Drug and alcohol abuse affects unborn babies, wrecks marriages and lives and often ends in death.
What we put into our body is supposed to nourish or heal it. We are not supposed to destroy the vessel in which our souls are harboured. Intoxicants serve a medicinal purpose in our lives that is supposed to benefit us, not to destroy humanity.