Our call is to hear the cries of those whose lives are impacted by the current opioid epidemic…
This crisis affects every congregation. Yet this disease is often a difficult topic to discuss. Hopefully these resources and materials will help your congregation work to help those affected by addiction. If you need more than this webpage can provide, please contact a member of the taskforce.
There is no doubt that once those in church leadership come forth to address this epidemic with Christ like love in worship, in educational setting, more and more will feel safe telling their stories and helping others who need assistance.
The mission of the PSEC Addiction & Recovery Task Force is to share God’s love with people suffering from the destructive disease of addiction and their affected family members and friends.
Our goal is to decrease stigma surrounding addiction by broadening individual knowledge, awareness, and understanding while providing support, resources, and other vital information about this disease to ministers and congregations.
Harm Reduction Resolution
A Resolution of Witness, titled “Faithful Advocacy for Intersectional and Transformational Healing in Harm Reduction” was approved by the delegates at a plenary of the Thirty-Fourth General Synod of the United Church of Christ, held in Indianapolis June 30-July 4, 2023.
The PSEC Addiction and Recovery Taskforce urges you to read this vital resolution and study the practices encouraged for consideration within your churches and organizations.
Link to Resolution PDF: Harm Reduction Resolution Final
Walking the 12 Steps with Gratitude
An Introduction to the 12 Steps: The 12 Steps found within recovery programs are positive tools that make recovery possible for those with substance use disorder. Through surrender and humility, participants learn about spiritual principles found within these 12 Steps.
With direction and guidance from a mentor (referred to as a sponsor), steps are studied and those addicted write about how each step applies to their lives, both past and present. Recovery experiences are shared at 12 Step meetings and the message of hope is carried.
In the following series, we will explore each of these steps from the viewpoint of two individuals in long-term recovery from drug abuse.
Disclaimer: For the purposes of this series, persons with substance use disorder may be referred to as addicts.
Resources & Links
Resources at the Addiction Policy Forum website include a handbook for families — Navigating Treatment and Addiction: A Guide for Families — as well as other resources. We invite you to view these videos and share them with your congregation.
12 Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Addiction from the Addiction Policy Forum
The Opioid Crisis Practical Toolkit from The Partnership Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives
Narcotics Anonymous: https://na.org
Alcoholics Anonymous: https://aa.org
Essays and Stories
Here are five essays which are intended to assist you in focusing your pastoral care and to give you hints as to ways you might bring perspective when various addiction issues arise:
- General Information for a local congregation: Addiction and Theology
- Parents and family members of one who is sick: Wits end
- People who are themselves caught in addiction: To My Struggling Friend
- Parents who have lost a child due to an addiction related death: PIETA
- An addict’s own story, by Cheryl R.: Work in Progress
- Ad addict’s own story, by Trish R.: I Will Never Be Like Him
Xylazine: What you need to know!
This article includes information on Xylazine (known as “Tranq”). According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 107,735 Americans died between August 2021 and August 2022 from drug poisonings, with 66 percent of those deaths involving synthetic opioids. Learn about overdoses and how we can help. Click here to read more.
Video of the November 10, 2022, program ‘Harm Reduction and Healing Centered Engagement to End Overdose.’ Featuring Rev. Erica Poellet, UCC Minister of Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention Ministries, Mr. Terrell Jones, OnPoint (NYC), Ms. Annie Brogan, Philadelphia Dept of Public Health Client Engagement Coordinator, and members of the PSEC Addiction and Recovery Task force, this community education event brought us together online and at St. Paul’s (Fort Washington) to discuss best practices and theological grounding of Harm Reduction.
Resurrecting Hope PP
Video from John Adams DA for the June 2021, Annual Meeting: https://youtu.be/SBnEnNcuDY0
The Addiction Policy Forum has provided 4 short videos that clearly explain basic, important issues relating to addiction: how addiction works, the risk of addiction, understanding severity and not waiting for rock bottom. All 4 can be found at: https://www.addictionpolicy.org/videos.
- ‘Episode One – The Hijacker: How Addiction Works’
Description: Learn how substance use disorders affect the brain.
- ‘Episode Two – Whirlpools of Risk’
Description: Not everyone who uses alcohol or drugs develops a substance use disorder (SUD) – why is that?
- ‘Episode Three – Understanding Severity’
Description: Like other chronic illnesses, substance use disorders (SUDs) get worse over time. Learn the different levels of severity.
- ‘Episode Four – Don’t Wait for “Rock Bottom”‘
Description: Understanding the concept of ‘Rock Bottom’
- ‘Episode One – The Hijacker: How Addiction Works’
Do’s and Don’ts for Churches
Attached below is a power point presentation and a shortened version of the Congregational Do’s & Don’ts that appear in the power point.
Many people have no knowledge of what Narcan (naloxone) is, how it is used and how it saves lives. People will often dismiss it as giving a drug addict another drug. If you want to know more, a wonderful resource is the training tape by Dr. Rachel Levine, former director of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and now is the assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services . On this tape she explains what Narcan is, how it is used and walks you step by step to through the process. It is a short training that could teach you how to save a life. Please take the time to view the training if you have Narcan, are considering getting Narcan and especially if you have no idea what Narcan is.
The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs states:
“Members of the community, family members, friends, and bystanders may be prescribed naloxone and can lawfully administer the drug to someone who is experiencing an overdose. Pennsylvania’s Physician General has written standing orders for the general public to be able to obtain naloxone without a prescription from their doctor. Although not necessary in order to obtain the medication it is recommended that individuals receive training to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose and to learn how to properly administer naloxone.”
You can watch the Dr. Rachel Levine’s naloxone training video on TRAIN PA to get your certificate of completion that will protect you legally as a Good Samaritan trying to help someone in need: http://bit.ly/PANaloxoneTraining
To receive a certificate of completion, you must watch the video on TRAIN PA (http://bit.ly/PANaloxoneTraining). You will NOT receive a certificate for watching on Facebook or YouTube.
If you have received Narcan, please view the training to have Good Samaritan coverage.
Contact the Task Force
Reach the taskforce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PSEC Addiction and Recovery Task Force is made up of:
Rev. Dr. Deborah Clemens
Rev. Josh Blakesley
Dr. Kay Jones
Use the Committee Contact Listing to access contact information, as they are more than willing to be an asset to you.