(CT) Linda Stokes–Hope for America’s Opioid Epidemic Is Grace in a Syringe

But as the controversy has increased, so has the response of the church. As we face yet another year of skyrocketing opioid deaths and ask ourselves why we are losing an entire generation when we have the antidote, many Christian organizations—desperate to heal the wounds of their communities—have begun to augment their recovery outreach and relational ministries with Narcan distribution and training. Narcan has become the new compassion ministry.

David Stoecker knows why. After 24 years of opioid abuse, countless stints in rehab, repeated efforts at 12-step programs and trying “just about everything else” to get clean, Stoecker found Jesus. “I had some people who loved on me,” he says. “I was a troubled kid, I had a lot of abuse when I was younger. My dad passed away from suicide, and with opioids I finally found something that I could use to escape. I was a really annoying atheist. I liked to belittle Christians. But after a couple times of them inviting me to church, I finally gave in because they offered me live music and BBQ after church. And I like to eat.” Stoecker says that he attended Sunday church services and Celebrate Recovery meetings for six months because of the relationships he was forming. “Then one night, I offered up a foxhole prayer and made a bunch of deals with God. That was eight and a half years ago, and I haven’t used since.”

Stoecker raised his education level from a GED he completed in prison to a master’s degree in social work. He has since started two nonprofit recovery organizations and become the state advocacy and education coordinator for the Missouri Recovery Network. He distributes Narcan to community organizations throughout the state and trains everyone from pastors and outreach workers to the family members of substance abusers how to recognize an overdose and save a life. “When a pastor or a Christian asks me, you know, ‘Why do I need this?’ I tell them, ‘Because dead people don’t get saved.’”

Read it all (my emphasis).


Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology