calendar August 25, 2018 in Disability Ministry, Faith in action

Substance Abuse Forums

“Addiction is a chronic, relapsing, and progressive brain disease.”
When talking disability ministry, we here at Able, Together like to cast a wide net. We delve into all kinds of illnesses, mobility and developmental issues, and mental health concerns including substance abuse. It has been heartening for me (Kathleen) to notice several area churches addressing addiciton with caring and compassion.
My daughter attends Trinity Lutheran’s D2D, which is an updated version of Confirmation. Back in the spring, D2D met with Penn Foundation’s community outreach team to talk honestly about substance use problems, their prevalence, and the misconceptions surrounding the entire topic.That is where we snapped the above photo, and where we learned that addiction is a chronic, relapsing, and progressive brain disease. I was curious to see what other area churches were up to, so let’s check in with Lisa Jester, pastor at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Levittown, who recently held a community forum on substance use disorder, and shared her thoughts.
“We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Chemical dependency is currently garnering much attention in the political and community arenas but is misunderstood by so any of us. Addiction is a disease and those who suffer from it are often genetically predisposed to become addicts. Many have also experienced unaddressed traumatic experiences and have mental health concerns. They turn to their drug of choice as a form of self-medication.
It is important to recognize addiction not as a moral or parental failure but as an illness which can be treated. People from all walks of life can become addicts. While we hear stories of countless rehabilitation stays and unsuccessful attempts at being clean and sober, we rarely hear success stories. The stigma of addiction prevents those in recovery from sharing their experiences with others outside of twelve step programs.
As a recovering alcoholic I am grateful to God for the gift of my sobriety and the love and support I received from family, friends and caregivers. I am not unique. Each day we all encounter clean and sober people without knowing it. There is hope!
Our call as followers of Christ is to care for those in need, especially those on the margins. At Emmaus Road Lutheran Church in Levittown, we are committed to accompanying those who are struggling. We recently hosted a community educational forum on addiction in partnership with Livengrin Foundation. Substance abuse experts educated us on the nature of addiction and people in recovery as well as family members shared their experiences. These powerful presentations created a sacred space for vulnerability, truth-telling and community. Events like this help to remove the stigma attached to addiction, provide resources for those who need help and their families and offer emotional support and caring relationships.”
–Lisa Jester