Front Lines: Faith-based groups have role in drug fight

When local and state officials, members of the faith community and first responders gathered this week for a panel discussion on Combating Addiction With Grace, Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens said the county has seen 271 overdoses and 17 deaths so far this year, but:

“The good thing is the deaths have not been on the rise,” he said.

Imagine, ten years ago, what we would think of being able to find a silver lining in drug overdose and death statistics like that.

Stephens is right, of course, we must build on small victories as we keep finding new ways to fight. During this week’s event, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey explained “We are trying to really enable the communities to really expand their faith-based treatment options.

” … We know that substance abuse is a terrible epidemic in our state,” he said. “We have to get to people’s heads and hearts.”

People of faith have an obligation not to turn their backs on this plague. And they are in a unique position to do something about it.

“We have a role in the fight and we have a role to play here,” said Pastor Greg Delaney of the Woodhaven Treatment Center in Dayton, Ohio. “Addiction needs a community response. We are part of the community response.”

As Delaney put it, there are four fronts in this war: biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual. Local faith-based organizations and individuals should answer the call to action.