AG's faith-based anti-opioids initiative visits Wheeling

By Chris Dickerson | Sep 14, 2017

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey visited the Northern Panhandle to continue a faith-based initiative aimed at empowering religious groups in the fight against substance abuse.

The AG's office's  “Combating Addiction with Grace” program had a conference Sept. 14 in Wheeling. It was the third in a series of events that will continue through the spring.

“The faith-based community plays an active role in fighting this epidemic on a local and regional level,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Changing the cycle of addiction by empowering communities is a step toward a brighter future for West Virginia.”

According to Morrisey's office, the goal of the programs is to form an action plan and ideas of how to combat the drug epidemic in each community represented.

“Combating Addiction with Grace to me is the exact approach to bringing community healing," said Joel Richter, pastor of the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozart. "Recovering addicts will say, 'By the grace of God, I am sober.' It is the grace of God bringing people into recovery.

“It is the grace of God allowing for prevention of drug use by creating a community to experience reconciliation. Grace is a core value healing and restoring a community.”

Morrisey's office says the initiative continues a holistic approach to reduce the supply and demand of prescription opioids, as well as an educational component to prevent future addiction. That approach, according to the AG's office, 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

“Engaging the faith community is an encouraging step forward for West Virginia," said Martha Polinsky, coordinator of the Community Impact Coalition.

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