Author Topic: The Church and Drug Addiction  (Read 780 times)

MEKoch

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ***
  • Posts: 204
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
The Church and Drug Addiction
« on: September 27, 2016, 11:51:03 AM »
I just did my second funeral in six weeks for a young man who overdosed on drugs.  Last weekend in Cleveland, OH, eight people died from overdosing.  It is heroin mixed with fentanyl which kills quickly.  Police come with Narcan to attempt reversing the effects of the drug.

"We confess we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves."    I confess at age 70 I am at a loss about the drug culture.  I see a need for the Church to respond, but another "program" sounds hollow.  We already have A.A. and N.A. six days per week in our church. 

A church in Columbus, OH recently sponsored a seminar on this topic, but I could not attend.  How do proclaim the light of Jesus Christ in a dark world? 

Martin Marty in his weekly e-news "Sightings" had a response from some clergy calling for an end to the Drug War.  And they cited Seattle and some Canadian cities where drugs are dispensed by an agency, with medical clinic attached. 

Your wisdom and theologizing can further our mutual conversation,

Michael Koch

Eileen Smith

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2140
    • View Profile
Re: The Church and Drug Addiction
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2016, 12:10:24 PM »
Thank you so much for sharing the news of these tragic deaths. Awful as it is, it creates awareness.  I work with substance abuse prevention and it breaks my heart to see the number of young people succumb to the disease of addiction. There are far too many funerals and far too much mis-information on addiction.  Just last week I heard a woman say that she doesn't travel into Manhattan because there are drugs there.  I informed her that there are drugs on our side of the rive was well.  'Oh yes" she responded, "they travel from Paterson to West Milford on Rt. 23 with drugs."  Wrong:  they are right here in our community. 

I don't know where you live, but perhaps you can find out through the schools if there are drug prevention programs offered.  Many (most) counties across the country have an Alliance that works with prevention of substance abuse.  Some are active, some not.  Perhaps your Alliance is healthy and working.  Programs designed for kids begin at second grade with B.A.B.E.S. (Beginning Awareness Basic Education Students). There are programs designed for all grade levels through high school.  We've brought them into our church and encourage our parents to attend a yearly drug forum that the mayor hosts as well as other programs designed to educate parents.  Do your schools have School Resource Officers?  We've invited our SRO's to talk to our kids, parents, and grandparents.   Many of these programs can be done in a church setting, especially confirmation class.

 A problem with Narcan is that there is no help once it has been administered and the person survives - no prevention program, no detox, nothing.  So, they go out again, get high again, overdose again, get Narcan again. 

Parents are the key players and they need to be convinced that their child is susceptible to drugs and alcohol addiction.  They need to hug their child and sniff.  Children have no right to privacy - go through drawers and rooms.  The school has a role.  The church should have a role as well.  Again, there are programs designed to help kids make good decisions and I know these can be done in church.  A congregation could design one's own program or its members can get involved in substance abuse programs offered by the town which would, at the least, help create awareness.

I'm sorry that this has been such a difficult time.  May God richly bless your ministry. 

exegete77

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ***
  • Posts: 209
    • View Profile
    • Believe, teach, and confess
Re: The Church and Drug Addiction
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2016, 01:53:20 PM »
Thank you for your ministry and your requests for help. As a pastor, I have found we have had people battle that in each of the congregations I have served. It is the "quiet" problem that many pastors and congregations either ignore or dismiss, or often struggle to minister with people and families. Many years ago I conducted a funeral for a women who had been in the drug scene for 15+ years. She finally came to a home Bible study I was leading, and she was clinging to any promise of God about forgiveness, reconciliation, and new life. Unfortunately six months later her ex-boyfriend drug kingpin had her murdered.

When I move to a new congregation I try to locate community services that will help. Unfortunately we currently live in an area in which the closest help is at least 50 miles away. The average age of meth addicts in our communities? Between 40-60.

As a parent of one who has been battling drug addiction for 31 years, I have a little experience in living in that reality as well. For 18 years we had heard nothing from him, but expected every phone call to be "the one." It was a lonely journey during these 31 years, but we were blessed by a few lay people who prayed with and for us no matter the circumstances. They were a true blessing in the darkest days.

So perhaps the request for help can be extended so that their will be pastoral/congregational care for family members as well. Just a thought.

Blessings on your ministry, Michael.
Rich Shields (TAALC)

Blessed to be a blessing; forgiven to be forgiving
believe, teach, and confess

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 19820
    • View Profile
Re: The Church and Drug Addiction
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2016, 03:05:42 PM »
I always go back to the writing of Wachet Auf (Wake, Awake for Night is Flying) which was composed by Phillip Nicolai as he was burying literally hundreds of parishioners who were dying in droves from the plague.

We can only minister to people living in the human condition. Warfare, poverty, addiction, cancer, natural disasters, car accidents, you name it-- in all these things we can help, comfort, teach, warn and do whatever loving, compassionate people would do for people they love, but ultimately the church exists to point dying sinners to Christ and not in any other way to solve the problem of their being dying sinners. 

Eileen Smith

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2140
    • View Profile
Re: The Church and Drug Addiction
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2016, 05:27:16 PM »
Pastor Koch, is this service in your area?  If so, it may be a place to start to see how to become involved in prevention.  http://www.ashlandmhrb.org/resources/alcohol-and-drug-abuse

I met today with two LCSWs on this topic and the church.  We hope to involve our youth group have this topic for one of their lock-ins.  The thought is to have them do some research, in an engaging manner, and present it to the congregation (primarily parents), perhaps between services on a Sunday morning.

I attended a presentation on palliative care for ministers - ordained and consecrated.  The focus was to create awareness of the decisions one faces when considering end of life care.  The speaker told us that the legal profession has a piece of the decision as does the medical profession.  But much of what one deals with when making these decisions and especially when nearing end of life, is spiritual; the church needs to be the third prong in this process.  It is the same with addiction.  It is epidemic.  Parents are one component, schools are another, again the medical and legal professions become involved -- and the church certainly has a role. 

J. Thomas Shelley

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4340
    • View Profile
Re: The Church and Drug Addiction
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2016, 03:09:50 PM »
My county saw a spike in heroin and opiate OD deaths a couple of years ago.  Our newly elected Coroner made the reduction of these deaths her personal crusade, advocating for "good Samaritan" legislation and pushing for the making Narcan available in every patrol car.

Those efforts have somewhat tamed the OD death; "somewhat" because as of April this semirural county was third in the state for Narcan saves.

Yes, the issue truly becomes, "saved through Narcan--now what"?  OD deaths are being prevented, but are they only being delayed?

I'm inclined to the latter, in no small part because the majority of opiate OD deaths/Narcan "saves" are not of "typcial junkies" but of otherwise responsible people who have been dealing with chronic pain, often from a traumatic injury or a less than perfect orthopedic surgery. 

Combine the pain with skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices (thanks, in part, to the so-called "Affordable Care Act") and one might be able to grasp the desparation of those who, seeking to escape the pain, decide that 16 five-dollar hits are a better value than a single $80.00 Oxycodin tablet.

WE are entangled with big pharma in our mutual funds/retirement fund portfolios.  WE are entangled with the medical-political complex.  WE are in bondage to sin, and cannot free ourselves.

« Last Edit: September 29, 2016, 10:14:28 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
Greek Orthodox Deacon -Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13572
    • View Profile
Re: The Church and Drug Addiction
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2016, 12:56:00 AM »
A lifeguard at the beach goes out and saves a child that had drifted too far from shore and could not swim.  Why bother, the problem that the child cannot swim remains and is careless about where she wades.  Why not just let her drown, she might well again another day because rescuing her from her immediate predicament does not solve the underlying problems, lack of water skills, carelessness and a possibly careless parent.  Sound good?

Narcan does not solve addiction but it may buy time to work on the underlying problems.  A dose a Narcan does not solve the problem of addiction, but then the addict dead from OD isn't going to be helped to overcome addiction either. 

To refuse to use Narcan because it doesn't cure addiction would be like refusing to apply pressure to a wound because that doesn't close the wound, only stitches would do that so let the person bleed out waiting for a doctor to stitch up the wound.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS