Making Strides Against the Opioid Crisis

Third, in cooperation with government partners

Where there is room for churches and faith-based institutions to work together in this struggle against opioid addictions, so too are there opportunities for these groups to work cooperatively with governing authorities.

This morning, I testified at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA, in cooperation with the HHS Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, convened a one-day expert panel on “The Role of the Faith-Based Community as Bridge Builders to the Treatment Community for People with Serious Mental Illness.”

This is one of the two areas where some of this work is intersecting with the work of Director Shannon Royce, Esq., and the Partnership Center team.

The other is opioids.

Recently, I shared the Partnership Center’s tool kit that offers practical resources for communities and faith-based entities. The Practical Toolkit for Faith and Community Leaders, along with additional information and resources, can be found on the Rural Matters Institute website with permission from the office of The Partnership Center. A downloadable version is also available.

Through our Rural Matters Initiative we will be helping churches connect with resources that will help serve their communities, like the toolkit.

However, there is another opportunity here. This September, State Opioid Response Grant (SOR’s) funds will be going into communities around the country. A helpful letter from Shannon Royce and SAMHSA’s recently released Frequently Asked Questions affirms that states are allowed to use a portion of these funds to support services offered by faith-based providers —yes, faith-based providers—through indirect funding or voucher programs.

Efforts like this demonstrate that cross-sector partnerships between public and private entities are making a path forward amidst this opioid crisis. And now is the time for more faith-based providers to step forward and leverage all the resources available to them.

Where from here?

In a Washington Post op-ed last year, I explained, “Addiction is a health crisis because it affects people of all backgrounds. We can treat it as such.”

My exhortation to you, if you are a pastor or a church leader, is that you and members of your congregation might join Jesus on his mission of being the Great Physician. He is looking for churches, pastors and people to see the need and to become part of the solution.

This article originally appeared here.

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Ed Stetzer
Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.