Churches can help stem the tide of addiction

Churches can help people dealing with addiction, those within the church as well as those in the local community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes early intervention with people at highest risk of overdose and improved detection of overdose outbreaks as critical steps toward stemming the tide of overdose deaths at the local level.

Open doors

Churches can become addiction centers by opening their doors to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery groups, said Curt Williams, founder and executive director of Youth-Reach Gulf Coast, an addiction ministry for young men, in Summerdale. Addicts without a sponsor, someone to listen and offer support, are 80% more likely to relapse than those with a sponsor, he said, and believers can offer a listening ear.

Inviting addiction recovery groups or people struggling with addictions within the congregation to share their experiences can also help, said Rick Hagans, founder of Harvest Evangelism in Opelika.

“The Bible says you overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of your testimony, Revelation 12,” Hagans said. “When our men and women tell a story, they just say: ‘Listen, I could be your son. I could be your brother. …  I could be you. But God has rescued me out of my addiction and changed me.’ Give the addicts in your church a chance to share because the addiction to drugs is not a whole lot different than addiction to business or money or your religion. It’s an addiction.”

American Character Builders, a ministry of Alabama Citizens Action Program, offers drug and alcohol awareness education and materials, along with addiction resources at alcap.com/american-character-builders.

The CDC also suggests these ways to help friends and loved ones struggling with addiction:

  • Learn about the risks of opioids and other illicit drugs.
  • Help people struggling with opioid-use disorder to find the right care and treatment.
  • Learn about overdose prevention efforts in your community.

If you or someone you know is experiencing increased stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is at risk of using alcohol, opioids or other substances, resources are available to help.

Visit tabonline.org/coping-with-addiction for tips from the CDC and a list of hotlines.

Read here how the pandemic has made dealing with addictions difficult.

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