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Christina Dent: How Becoming a Foster Parent Changed My Views on the Best Way to Fight Drugs

“We have a huge overdose crisis, but the vast majority of those overdoses aren’t happening from the legal, regulated substances. They are happening because of people getting substances on the street that they don’t know the potency or purity of.” 

“I could see Joanne’s drug use, but I could also see that incarceration just would be really harmful.”

“What I learned on this journey was something I had never known before, which is the role of trauma in driving drug use and addiction, that it’s one of the highest risk factors for whether a person who uses drugs begins problematically using them.

“Drug use at its core is ultimately about feeling better.” 

“When we traumatize people in an effort to get them to stop using substances, we’re actually creating more risk factors for them to develop an addiction or for an addiction to increase.”

“We are not starving out addiction by criminalizing people who are using drugs. We are actually feeding it.” 

“My goal has always been to reduce harm to people. My goal has always been that I want to see lives saved and preserved. But I came to realize that my goal was still the same, but what I think is actually going to get us closer to that goal is very different.” 

“We have to acknowledge that there is no world where all harm from drugs goes away. That’s not true with alcohol. We have loads of harm from alcohol today. But if you look at what happened during Prohibition…It’s created this whole explosion of other harms.”

“It isn’t that there is a perfect solution. It’s that we have to weigh the pros and cons of the solutions we have.”

“I definitely would agree, there are some people today who aren’t using substances because they’re illegal that will probably use them if they’re not illegal. That’s true—I’m totally fine saying that that is true. But at what cost do we keep those few people from using those substances?”

“There’s lots of regulatory options. We have a lot of those set up already.”

“What [other countries] are doing are switching from a criminal justice approach to drugs to a health-centered approach to drugs, and as you do that, you see better outcomes.”

“We hold the lives of people like Joanne in our hands.”

“There are a lot of bad or immoral or even outright sinful things that are not criminal, and Christians aren’t lobbying for them to be criminal…just because something is legal doesn’t mean that we are encouraging people to use it, and it doesn’t mean that just because something is bad that criminalizing it or using the criminal justice system is the best way to handle it.”

“I see what Oregon did [in decriminalizing drugs] as a huge step forward in stopping the use of the criminal justice system and allowing people to be addressed in a way that best helps their drug use.”

“The majority of Christians in America feel faith-bound to criminalization.”

“For Christian leaders to at least really engage in this conversation is really important. Because what I’ve found in our work is that there are lots and lots of Christians who are rethinking these issues and they’re looking to their leaders to sort of signal to them, is it okay to rethink what we’ve been doing?”

“Drug use is rampant. Addiction is rampant, and families in our churches are suffering under the weight of shame and silence.” 

“This is what the church can provide…a safe place to have these conversations and an open place to consider alternatives.”

Mentioned in the Show by Christina Dent

End It for Good
End the War on Drugs for Good,” Christina’s TEDx Talk

Email Jennifer@enditforgood.com to get a free copy of “Chasing the Scream”
Email Christina@enditforgood.com to share your thoughts on this interview

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The 10 Commandments
Al Capone
Chasing the Scream: The Opposite of Addiction Is Connection” by Johann Hari
Oregon’s decriminalization of drugs
Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs
Prison Fellowship
War on Drugs

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As Vice President of Ministry Mobilization for Outreach, Inc., Jason dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. He also serves as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement and hosts the weekly ChurchLeaders podcast. Jason lives on Anastasia Island, Florida, with his beautiful wife and children. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram @jasondaye