Pastors urge diligence, awareness as drug overdose deaths hit record

"Through a 12-month period ending in April, the CDC said, nearly 98,000 drug overdose deaths had been reported...Two primary factors drive that increase: a rise in the availability of fentanyl and isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic." - BPNews 

Related: There’s No Good Plan to Stop 100,000 Opioid Deaths a Year

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

If COVID isolation is a "primary factor," we should have seen those numbers go down when lockdowns ended and restrictions on gatherings were lifted. If we had a chart showing "level of isolation" and "increase in overdose deaths," over the last 12 months, I can't see how the two would correlate.

There are some other problems in the Christianity Today article: People are not getting addicted to fentanyl. People get addicted to opioids, and fentanyl is just on particularly deadly synthetic opioid. In other words, chemically, there's not really any difference between addiction to fentanyl and addiction to heroin. Psychologically there can be, because fentanyl is more potent.

The CT piece also seems unaware of naloxone, which is an opioid overdose-reversal drug increasingly used by police and EMTs across the country. Where naloxone (aka Narcan) programs are in place, opioid OD fatalities decrease, so one major mitigation plan would be to increase naloxone programs across the country. 

Of course, reversing ODs doesn't address the deeper problems and questions at all, like what compels so many to seek more and more intense, expensive, and dangerous highs until it kills or nearly kills them.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

What strikes me--OK I don't have numbers here so I can't comment on the stats--is that the article states that it's centered in Appalachia, which has been economically depressed for as long as I've been around and longer.  They--and coal mining towns from the Appalachians to the Rockies--took it on the chin when the big bituminous strip mines opened in Wyoming and such just as overall use of coal for fuel dropped.  They never were that well off, but 80 years ago, they at least had jobs for young people.

So we would infer that general hopelessness, joblessness, and quite frankly boredom are in play here, and African-American pastors & intellectuals who visit the area often say "this is the same kind of that goes on in the inner city."  It's also worth noting that coal mining towns have always been hotspots for problem drug use--it was alcohol previously, and now it's opiods as well.  I would guess that part of the deal is that working so far away from the sun is simply psychologically hard on a man--and worrying about her man working under a couple hundred feet of rock that could collapse at any time is hard on a lady, too. (wonderfully portrayed, by the way, in John Ford's How Green Was my Valley). So as you're dealing with problem drug use, you're often dealing with the fact that the guy or gal you're facing grew up in a home with a drunk or drug abuser, and that drunk grew up in the home of a drunk....

Maybe you start with a job and purpose for a lot of these men and women?  That noted, I'm not sure how you get there from here.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Yes, it's complex. Given what we know about human nature, jobs and a general sense of purpose for life has to be a huge factor, as does family dysfunction across generations.

Someone should launch Coal Country Baptist Missions. Conversions alone wouldn't be enough, but conversions + a Christian theology of work and life, and help turning the economic situation around... 

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

....we can save the trip and minister to the people who live in trailer parks and the like right where we live, no?  My church had a member come clean about his heroin addiction a few years back--it's not like we need to travel to find this.

But if you want to partner with somebody, I've got a good friend on staff at Appalachian Bible College.  Or maybe you do, too. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

I live an hour north of Philadelphia.  Pretty much all the Heroin Addicts go to Philadelphia for cheap readily available Heroin.  Most of the Addicts hang out in a section of Philadelphia that was previously a White Working Class Neighborhood known as Frankfort.  It's right along the elevated subway line on the Eastern side of Philadelphia. Addicts come from everywhere in PA South Jersey and Northern Delaware to get the cheap Heroin in Philadelphia.  Sometimes I suspect the rural community Police Officers encourage their Addicts to go to Philadelphia. They caught Florida giving their Addicts bus tickets to Philadelphia about 10 years ago.    70 % of these Addicts are white.  There is a guy who reaches out to them that daily posts his videoes on You Tube.  You can do a count yourself.  Very sad.