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How Some Churches Are Addressing Substance Abuse

By |March 3rd, 2019|Categories: Addiction Treatment, Prevention|0 Comments

Different groups have different ways of approaching the issue of drug abuse, whether that be government organizations, schools, communities, cities, states, and even churches and religious organizations. There are a lot of different opinions on the matter. It’s important to consider all different perspectives so we can determine which courses of action will be most effective.

A recent event to make the news happened when 600 churches withdrew their support for the current political administration, insisting that the pro-incarceration approach to addressing drug abuse adopted by Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are deeply flawed. The churches condemned that administration, insisting that addiction requires treatment, not incarceration.
The decision to put addicts into jail rather than rehab is a highly contentious one. While there are no official polls, it seems like the vast majority rejects the Trump Administration’s approach. For the most part, Americans didn’t agree with the Reagan-era War on Drugs policies, and that has been well established through polling. In a broader sense, Trump’s approach is really just an update to Reagan’s drug war tactics.

600 Churches Withdraw Support from Drug War

Since the War on Drugs began almost four decades ago, it has been largely ineffective. The proof is that the drug problem has gotten exponentially worse over the past two decades, despite the heavy-handed pro-incarceration approach.

Surprisingly, churches have begun to withdraw their support from the Drug War over the past few years. This is surprising because churches are typically known for more conservative moral values, and in the past have been known for strict policies about drug addiction involving punishing or casting out addicted members.

There have been several occasions over the past few years where churches have made their positions known about wanting the drug war to end. Here are some examples of this:

  • In 2015, the New England Conference of United Methodist Churches voted to appeal to the government to end the war on drugs. They claimed the war has not been effective, has been extremely expensive, and has actually caused more drug issues than it solved.
  • In 2014, leaders of major churches in Texas, Indiana and Tennessee spoke out and appealed to governments from local to federal to end the drug war.
  • Certain religious politicians who have leadership roles in their own churches are calling for an end to the drug war. These include big names like Rick Perry from Texas and Chris Christie from New Jersey. Others include Georgia’s Nathan Deal, Indiana’s Mitch Daniels, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and Ohio’s John Kasich. They have all supported legislation and programs to reduce the war on drugs and favor rehabilitation over incarceration.

There are many more examples, but these are representative of the general sentiment among these churches and within most of the general population. If even the most conservative and morally chaste churches are in favor of reform, maybe the Administration will take notice.
We need to stop punishing people for having a terrible affliction of addiction. No one plans to become an addict. It’s something that can happen to anyone, to our loved ones, our spouses, our children. These are not immoral monsters that deserved to be locked up and abandoned. These are normal people that are struggling with a treatable issue, and are capable of being productive members of society and healthy human beings if they get clean. We have to transition the War on Drugs away from incarceration, and move towards treatment as the primary response to addiction.

Sources:

https://www.americamagazine.org/issue/360/article/religion-science-and-substance-abuse

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/07/10/the-war-on-drugs-just-lost-the-support-of-600-churches-so-whats-next/?utm_term=.73f8995f739f

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