The Heroin Epidemic, A Christian Response

The Heroin Epidemic“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Years ago, heroin addicts were portrayed as bums lying in a gutter shooting up, barely alive. Heroin was a scary drug and I couldn’t imagine myself or any of my friends ever using it. All that has changed!

In case you haven’t been listening, we have a heroin epidemic in America. And, the people most affected are members of your own family, average middle-class kids and young adults.

They are from good families, have caring and loving parents. They are the young man or woman next door.

This week, our jail ministry team talked to 27 men and women during our services at the local county jail. Most were between 18-34 and all but 2 were addicted to heroin. They looked nothing like the images from the past. They looked like anyone you would see at the local shopping mall or grocery store.

Talking with them, we saw the direct correlation between heroin use and the use and abuse of prescription drugs. Forty-five percent of heroin use began with pain killers like Percocet and OxyContin, according to the Center for Disease Control. And most used others drugs like cocaine, marijuana and alcohol too.

A 35 year-old construction worker hurts his back in a job related accident. His doctor prescribes Oxycodone. It provides relief and he can continue to do his job and support his family. But, when his prescription runs out, the back pain returns. The pain prevents him from going to work. Oxy is expensive on the street. Heroin isn’t. A few weeks later he is snorting heroin and working again. Later, he begins injecting it.

A freshman basketball player is offered a prescription pain killer by a senior on the team. He said, “Try this and you will play better.” Three years later, in his senior year, he begins shooting heroin. Two years later, he is in jail.

Another young man’s addiction was so strong that he stole money from his mother’s purse on Mother’s day and sold his 2 year-old sons Christmas presents to buy the drug. His best friend had died from an overdose just a few weeks ago, and another friend had just been arrested.

The women we talked to share their stories, as well, of prescription drug use leading to heroin.

“We can’t arrest our way out of a (heroin) crisis.” Maura Healy, AG Massachusetts

Arresting and imprisoning addicts isn’t addressing the crisis, we need prevention, treatment, and reduce overdoses with the help of naloxone.

So, what should our response be to the heroin epidemic? What should we, as Catholics and Christians, be doing to help? We can no longer bury our heads in the sand and rationalize that this is someone else’s problem. It is a problem we all share! If you have a family member or friend who is addicted to heroin, here are some things that you can do;

  1. Let them know, that they are loved by God. Often addicts allow their additions to define their identity. That’s not who they are! They are sons and daughters of the most-high God. Asking God for His help through prayer is a powerful way to aid the healing process.
  2. Let them know, that they are not the first and not alone. Others have been lured into drug use just as they have and have sought and found recovery, and they can too!
  3. Let them know, that overcoming addictions are difficult and painful, and calling on a higher power helps. The 12 step programs of Alcoholics and Narcotics anonymous do work and I have observed that overcoming heroin addictions alone is near impossible. Calling on a higher power, God as we Christians would describe Him, is the path with the greatest success. Pray with them!
  4. Let them know, that you are here to help them. Even if it is just someone to talk to, someone to encourage their journey to successful recovery, someone to drive them to a meeting, recovery group or to pray with them, you can be a blessing.
  5. Let them know, that you are not judging them by their addiction. Yes, they have made a mistake and drug abuse is sinful. But, we must love the sinner and hate the sin. Extend to them love and forgiveness and keep them in your prayers.
  6. Let them know, that you will support the efforts to find a solution to this epidemic. The more we know about the heroin epidemic and the more we get involved with our votes and our financial support for rehabilitation facilities and programs, the quicker we can stem the tide of overdose deaths from this horrible drug.

As Christians, let’s try to be part of the solution. Our own families, friends and neighbors lives are in the balance.

If you enjoyed this reflection, you can have them emailed to you every Monday morning, and not miss a single one.  Subscribe by clicking here. You will be sent an e-mail to verify your subscription.  Just click on the link and you’re all set.

Did you know that there is a Finding God’s Grace podcast too?  A new episode is posted every Wednesday.  They are less than three minutes long and a great way to start your day.   If you would like to subscribe to Tony’s podcast, delivered every Thursday morning at 7AM to your e-mail, simply click here.

I love it when you share my stories with your family and friends.  Below are links to share on your social media sites. Thanks for sharing!

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Tony Agnesi