The church should be a place where those who are broken can come to be restored. It should be a place where former addicts as well as those who are still fighting their addiction are welcomed with open arms.
Thankfully, in many churches, this holds typically true. But this kindness and sincerity to God’s Word isn’t present in all places of worship.
In the fact of the opioid epidemic in the United States, wherein scores of individuals are finding themselves hooked on prescription and non-prescription drugs, this element of the church’s mission is more important than ever.
How Addiction Begins
In many cases, a drug addiction begins innocently.: A person has a surgery or other painful procedure and is prescribed a pain killer to take home. While the person is taking the painkiller during recovery, they notice that it numbs not only their physical pain, but perhaps dulls any mental problems they are having as well.
Pretty soon, they have to take a little more of the substance to get the same effect. When the time comes the time to ditch the painkillers, the patients realize they have become dependent on them just to live each day. When they don’t take them, withdrawals begin and are anything but pleasant.
This perpetuates the cycle of addiction. Sometimes this prescription drug addiction leads users to seek even stronger drugs, which means they combine prescription medications or even branch out to illicit drugs.
Hiding The Problem
Many drug abuses have learned to blend their habits with subtlety, making it difficult for their personal friends and family to identify the problem.
Perhaps that person sits right next to you in the pew each Sunday. You likely wouldn’t know, unless they chose to share their problem with you.
Crisis By The Numbers
• Since 1999, painkiller sales have increased by 300%.
• Virtually three out of four prescription overdoses involve painkillers.
• Tens of millions of people abuse prescription medications by misusing prescription medication on an annual basis.
• Overdoses that are the result of painkillers are more common than cocaine and heroin overdoses combined.
• The number of people seeking treatment for addiction to painkillers or sedatives has doubled since 2002.
• Around 17% of the people who abuse prescription drugs were originally prescribed the medication.
• Over half those abusing prescription drugs got them from a relative or friend.
As the above statistics show, prescription drug addiction is a huge problem, and it’s getting worse. Odds are someone in your church right now is struggling with a drug addiction. What can the church do?
It’s great to pray for one another. It’s Biblical even. However, when a person is fighting an addiction, they need professional help. One way a church can help is getting them in touch with a good faith-based rehabilitation center.
Although you want to help some people in your church, you have to understand that sometimes addicts aren’t ready to fight their addiction. You can’t force them to want to get clean. You can’t want to get clean for them. Be there for them, and don’t enable their destructive habits, but understand sometimes it takes time for a person to want help.
Those facing addictions shouldn’t be treated as damaged goods. A former addict shouldn’t be looked down upon. They should be treated as a restored promise, showing real world evidence of God’s grace.
Above everything else, the church should love those struggling with addiction. Hopefully, those struggling with addiction will find a safe place in their church. That is after all, the biggest role a church plays; to minister to those who are hurting. In this way, the church becomes the hands and feet of Christ to the world.
~ 1776 Christian