PARKERSBURG — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has kicked off a statewide initiative aimed at empowering religious groups to help fight the state's substance abuse problem.
The program, “Combating Addiction with Grace,” began June 13 at South Parkersburg Baptist Church with 160 people in attendance. The Parkersburg conference was the first of many planned for across the state through next spring.
“To successfully fight opioid abuse, we need to change our culture and change peoples’ heads and hearts,” Morrisey said in a press release. “Faith-based communities are the real leaders in this fight. They see the devastation caused by substance abuse firsthand and are ready to reach out to their neighbors.”
The initiative’s goal is to connect the faith community with local resources that fight opioid abuse, while highlighting the gaps in treatment that religious groups can fill.
At the first meeting, those in attendance heard from law enforcement, health care professionals, government officials and faith-based leaders who all share the goal of eliminating drug abuse in their communities.
“I think today, we are embarking on equipping this whole community to fight the problem,” said Tim Craft, founder and director of the High on Hope ministry. “I think it’s honestly the start of a big turning point for the Mid-Ohio Valley.”
Discussion topics gave attendees valuable insight and resources to better understand and assist those affected by drug addiction in their communities. The crowd included many eager to learn how they can be involved in transforming their neighborhoods.
“It provided us the opportunity to be able to learn who to reach out, more specifically, to so we can share the supports and the resources and the services that we have,” said Liz Ford, with Westbrook Health Services, a rehab and behavioral health center. “Along with the churches, we can work to best meet the needs of our community."
“Combating Addiction with Grace” continues the AG's office's holistic approach to fight substance abuse in West Virginia by reducing the supply and demand of prescription opioids, along with an educational component to prevent future addiction.
This approach includes criminal prosecutions, civil litigation, increased funding, multistate partnerships, new technology, awareness initiatives, drug incinerators and drop boxes to dispose of unwanted/expired prescriptions and the best practices toolkit endorsed by more than 25 national and state stakeholders.