The Church’s Response to the Opioid Crisis: Practical Tool Kit for Faith-Based Leaders

A new resource from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

This past fall, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. This came in response to a commission report that stated the country was “enduring a death toll equal to September 11th, every three weeks.”

Overdosing on drugs, especially opioids and including heroin, is now the most common cause of death for Americans under 50.

In 2015, opioid overdoses stole the lives of over 33,000 Americans. To put this number in perspective, opioid-related deaths outnumber car crashes and gun-related deaths in the United States.

According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, they believe opioid-related fatalities have been underreported by 24 percent, raising the death toll to more than 41,000 in 2015.

The abuse of opioid and other related drugs like heroin has become such an epidemic that in August of 2016 the U.S. Surgeon General sent a letter to every doctor in America asking them to help “combat this public health crisis.”

National Crisis, Losing a Generation of People

We also now know that this is not just an urban or suburban crisis. The rate of drug overdose deaths in rural areas has surpassed rates in urban areas. Reports have shown that from 1999 to 2015, opioid-related deaths in rural areas have quadrupled among those 18-25 years old.

Donnie Griggs, pastor of One Harbor Church, a growing multisite church reaching rural communities in North Carolina, said, “We are drowning in this; everywhere I go, small towns are being eaten up with this stuff.”

This crisis hit close to the heart of Donnie as one family member became addicted through prescribed medication for pain, and yet another began with marijuana and gradually amped up. Donnie is not afraid to speak against ...

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