Vision of Peace: Fighting Opioid Addiction
(Posted December 7, 2019)
This article was originally published in Mission Moments, which tells stories of how United Chruch of Christ congregations are connected to the wider church. It is published by the United Church of Christ.
At General Synod earlier this year, delegates to the gathering made resolutions to address many issues facing our nation and world, including the country’s growing opioid addiction crisis. Delegates challenged local churches and conferences to recognize opioid addiction as a health epidemic and to partner with corporations, governments, and health care providers.
Even before the Synod resolution, Fusion United Church of Christ, an interfaith spiritual community in Piqua, Ohio, was already engaged in the fight. After they learned that 310 people in their small town had overdosed on opioids in 2017, the faith community took a stand. Working with the sheriff’s department, they became a host site for Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone).
Project DAWN is a training program that teaches residents about addiction and the effects opioids have on breathing. Students come away from the course not only with knowledge, but also with a nasal spray they can administer to a victim in the case of an overdose. The spray can reverse the overdose, and help the patient live to receive addiction-recovery services. The training is also an opportunity for fellowship, community-building and spiritual growth, as participants are also invited for a meal and a devotional time.
The path to addiction and overdose has many stops along the way. Fusion UCC’s partnership with Project DAWN is just one way to combat addiction, but it is an important one. Karen Tompkins Jamison, pastor of the interfaith community, says that not all the participants are drug users themselves. The church has offered the training for teens who frequently come across parents who have overdosed. She also notes that, “offering a meal is a way to deal with food insecurity in our area.” One participant came just for the meal on a Thursday, ended up staying for the training and by Sunday she had used the training on a neighbor.
You can find out more about the Fusion community’s presence in their neighborhood by checking out their website: fusionucc.org.