Can drug use cause demonic possession?

by Matt Slick

The Bible does not talk about drugs in the sense of our modern understanding with antibiotics, pain killers, and hallucinogenics, so we cannot definitively say that drugs cause demonic possession. But drugs, or more specifically the abuse of drugs where a person is enslaved to them and/or where they induce an altered state of consciousness, can affect a person sufficiently to contribute to demonic oppression and/or possession. We know this because of Scripture.

  • Galatians 5:19-20, "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery [Gk. pharmakeia], enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions..."
  • Revelation 18:23, "and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery [Gk. pharmakeia]."

In each of the verses above, the word for "sorcery" in Greek is φαρμακεία pharmakeía. We get the English word pharmacy from this Greek word and it is tied to sorcery. Let's take a quick look at what some of the Greek dictionaries say about the word.

  • φαρμακεία (pharmakeia), "sorcery, witchcraft, black magic (Gal 5:20; Rev 18:23+; Rev 9:21 v.r. NA26)"1
  • φαρμακεία pharmakeía, "a drug, which in the Gr. writers is used both for a curative or medicinal drug, and also as a poisonous one. Pharmakeía means the occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magical incantation with drugs (Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21; 18:23; Sept.: Ex. 7:22; Is. 47:9, 12)."2
  • φαρμακεία, pharmakeía, "the use of magic, often involving drugs and the casting of spells upon people—‘to practice magic, to cast spells upon, to engage in sorcery, magic, sorcery.’"3


Sorcery is the practice of using unbiblical means to foretell the future, summon spirits, cast spells, etc. It is associated with demonic activity in the Bible, is not permitted by God (Deuteronomy 18:10), and was punishable by death (Exodus 22:18). The reason it was so seriously rejected is that sorcery puts the person in contact with evil forces.

Therefore, drug abuse, which is associated with sorcery in the Bible, can open a person up to demonic oppression that could ultimately lead to demonic possession. It doesn't necessitate it, but it should be avoided.

  • 1. Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.
  • 2. Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000.
  • 3. Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.