According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, the sales of prescription opioids in the United States almost quadrupled from 1999 to 2014.
Prescription opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, and fentanyl are often prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Synthetic opioids including methadone and fentanyl are also manufactured illegally. They’re often used to intensify the effects of other drugs. Heroin, another illegally made opioid, is one of the substances commonly abused in conjunction with methadone or fentanyl.
The CDC reports opioid overdoses have increased fourfold since 1999. In 2015 alone, opioids were a factor in an astounding 33,091 deaths. Prescription opioids are continuously to blame for more overdose deaths than any other type of drug. As news outlets regularly report instances of people dying from opioid abuse, politicians and law enforcement professionals alike scramble to develop viable solutions to the opioid epidemic.
One idea pervading both Christian and mainstream circles is to fight this crisis with faith.
Using faith to overcome addiction certainly isn’t a new concept. In 1935, William Griffith Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith founded Alcoholics Anonymous. Mr. Wilson came up with the idea for this popular organization while he spent time in a hospital for abusing alcohol in 1934.
During his time in the hospital, Mr. Wilson had a spiritual encounter. The experience removed his desperate desire to drink alcohol, which in turn inspired him to try to persuade other alcoholics to utilize his method to overcome their addictions. His first convert, Dr. Smith, helped him develop the book Alcoholics Anonymous. The book outlines a twelve-step, spiritually based program of recovery from alcoholism. Variations of this program have been used to treat people battling different types of compulsions, addictions, and dependencies such as nicotine, cocaine, gambling, and compulsive eating.
Sabine’s testimonial is a wonderful example of how faith can help someone overcome an opioid addiction. At the young age of 13, she began smoking cigarettes, and soon after started consuming alcohol. When she was 17, Sabine tried heroin for the first time. While she continued to drink heavily and experiment with other narcotics, heroin quickly became Sabine’s drug of choice. She began injecting it daily.
After her relationship to a significant other ended due to her drug usage, Sabine discovered she was pregnant. Although she used drugs during her pregnancy, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. After the birth of her daughter, Sabine stayed clean for a whopping three months. Like many other addicts, she relapsed. Over the next several years, she bravely tried to quit abusing drugs numerous times. On five occasions, she attempted to end her love affair with drugs under professional medical supervision at hospitals. When one physician informed Sabine her case was hopeless, she assumed she would die a drug addict as many of her friends had already done.
Fortunately for Sabine, she met a new friend who invited her to a church service. She was drawn to the positive atmosphere and recounts of the miracles of God. Sabine’s new friend gave her a Bible. As she read her Bible and prayed, Sabine made the decision to become a Christian. Her desire for alcohol and cigarettes quickly vanished. Over the next several months, Sabine conquered her 20-year addiction to opioids through prayer and the unwavering support of her new Christian friends. She also credited Christian music for helping her overcome her desire for drugs.
Like many addicts, Sabine experienced relapses in the past due to a feeling of abject emptiness. After becoming a Christian, Sabine’s empty heart was filled with the love for Jesus Christ. People who use faith to overcome opioid addictions no longer feel they have to fight their battles alone. They can depend on a higher power to provide them with the strength and willpower they need.
Faith also fosters community. Many opioid abuses spend much of their time alone or in the presence of other addicts. Once addicts begin attending church or enter a faith-based recovery program, they instantly become surrounded by others who want to help them succeed.
Besides leaning on someone stronger than them and fostering community, faith-based recovery programs focus on forgiveness. Addicts often blame themselves or others for their drug problems. Finding faith helps addicts finally forgive themselves, family members, and friends. Forgiveness is freeing and helps to clear the murky path to recovery. For those addicted to opioids, faith based programs can restore their hope of brighter tomorrows.
~ 1776 Christian