Pastor John Chowning
Our local community has recently experienced a rash of drug overdoses resulting in at least one, and maybe two, deaths. A large number of emergency calls were made reporting overdoses in the community. The scourge of substance abuse and drug addiction is rampant in Campbellsville-Taylor County as well as across the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the United States. All segments of society are impacted by drug and alcohol addiction and abuse. It is no respecter of race, creed, religious affiliation, economic and social status, or political party - there are virtually no families who haven't been impacted by this crisis. We see young lives being destroyed and some snatched away into eternity because of drug abuse and overdoses.
Numerous public policy initiatives have been implemented over the past 30-40 years - including the so-called War on Drugs, drug education programs in our schools, expanded drug treatment programs, addiction recovery programs in churches, mass incarceration of drug traffickers and drug users, etc. And despite all of these and other well-intended efforts and the expenditure of literally billions of dollars, both public and private funds, there seems to be no end to this cancer that is "eating away" at our community and culture.
The latest rash of overdoses in our community apparently resulted from the flow of heroin laced with fentanyl from Detroit, Michigan. This seems to be a very deadly and addictive combination. Heroin has become the "drug of choice" for many involved in the drug culture due to the cheap price. Efforts to control other drugs, such as pain pills, have increased the street prices of those drugs and resulted in heroin becoming the cheapest option. There are many other opioid derivatives that are increasingly prevalent and dangerous that we hear about almost weekly.
What can we do? First, we must strongly support our law enforcement as they work to contend with drug traffickers and suppliers. That is an ever changing challenge no doubt, but we must support law enforcement in these endeavors. Secondly, we must support a multitude of treatment options and show Christian compassion and concern for those who are addicted and seeking to recover. We must also support their families and encourage Christian recovery treatment options that include the best of medical and psychological treatment methodologies.Third, we must acknowledge that there are no easy solutions, and that we must be engaged in fighting this problem on a daily basis. It is not going away anytime soon. As already noted, we move from one drug of choice to another regularly which is governed by forces beyond our direct control and influence. Fourth, we must be willing to help and encourage those who are suffering from these and other addictions. As Christians, we must show compassion, share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who find themselves caught up in the drug culture, and do all we can to help support and encourage those who are in recovery.
Fifth, we must insist on education programs that share with our children and youth the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse as well as the dangers of other addictions. That begins in the home among family members and extends from there into the church, school, and community. We must recognize those characteristics that make certain individuals more vulnerable and get them the help that they need at the earliest point possible and provide them with support as possible. But we have to help people understand that they are ultimately responsible for what they consume and how they treat their bodies - and remember that our body is the "temple of the Holy Spirit" as the Bible tells us.
Sixth, we must pray, pray, pray, pray!!! And we must speak out - prophetically and with love, grace, and compassion. We have lost too many lives to this ravage on our community and culture. We must be people who are "the light of the world and salt of the earth" as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
There are several pastors in the community who are coming together for prayer and collaboration on what more can be done by the Christian community. And we pray that there will be further resolve among all sectors of the community - political, educational, civic, faith, law enforcement, judicial, etc. - to reclaim our community for Jesus Christ and abate the damage, darkness, and death of the drug culture. Please join in this effort!