Between 2001 and 2016 there was a 345% increase in opioid-related deaths in the United States. In New Hampshire, opioid deaths exceeded highway deaths. We cannot overstate the magnitude of the opioid crisis in the United States. Why is this happening, and what can we do about it?
Not everyone starts using opioids for the same reason. Doctors prescribe the drugs for many people due to pain from an accident or surgery. Some never manage to get off the drugs, adding more and more to achieve a level of comfort they feel necessary. Many get opioids by raiding someone’s medicine cabinet or buying them on the street or from a friend or associate who is selling the drugs.
The bottom line in all of this is what a person believes to be necessary to achieve a state of comfort or well being. Education and psychological help seem to be the greatest need for younger people to avoid the opioid crisis. Dr. Joseph Lee who is the medical director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Youth Continuum points out that genetic predisposition can be an issue. For that reason, teens need to know if other family members struggle with addiction. Dr. Lee also says that teaching children how to relate to the people and the world around them is critical.
Having a strong faith in God is not a guarantee that a person won’t have an opioid addiction problem. However, churches do have a unique opportunity to provide education about opioid addiction to a broad cross-section of society. People with strong religious faith also can be agents to help others get out of addiction.
Christians Against Substance Abuse (CASA) offers courses and a nationwide list of halfway houses. They also provide a directory of Faith-Based Substance Abuse Recovery and Support Groups in the United States. They have an extensive prison ministry that we work with in our own apologetics prison courses. You can see more on their website at kingscrossingprisonministries.org.
Another good source on the opioid crisis is a special issue of Citizen magazine in August of 2018, available from Focus on the Family 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920, phone 800-232-6459. You can also find information online HERE.
–John N. Clayton © 2018