Local faith-based groups step in to help with the drug epidemic

DUBLIN, OH (WCMH) — More than 50 people from faith-based organizations around Central Ohio showed up at a Dublin church to work with healthcare providers training to combat the rising opiate crisis.

The Franklin County Coroner tells NBC4 the County saw an 88% increase in the number of overdose deaths in the first six months of 2017.

Faith-based groups asked organizers how they could help, but said they needed more instruction about where they could be most useful.

Pastor Nancy Day-Achauer started the training day off with a prayer and said, “may people find ways they can be change agents in their community.”

Afterwards, they broke up into small groups and moved from table to table to learn about how to help with addiction recovery, housing and dealing with grief after an overdose death.

“Five years ago today we lost our 21-year-old son to a heroin overdose,” Ellen Schoonover told her group. She and her husband Paul started the GAP Network, moving from grief to action, after their son Matt died.

Day-Achauer, Franklin County Coroner Dr. Aniha Ortiz and Pastor Greg Delaney organized this roundtable.

“Dr. Ortiz and I had a seminar back in June, where we gave people an overview of the variety of things churches can do to be engaged in addressing the epidemic. The event we had on Thursday was a follow up on that, where we got into more detail with providers there who could educate them on different ways to go about addressing the epidemic,” Day-Achauer said.

Day-Achauer is the Pastor at St. Mark’s Church on Columbus’ west side, an area she said is hard-hit by overdoses.

“It is an issue everywhere, but on the west side you see more public use, you find more needles in public spaces. So it is very evident if you are in this community it is a problem,”

She is encouraging other denominations to be proactive with the drug crisis through by working through their staff and congregations. Both Day-Achauer and Ortiz said they were pleased that several different faiths attended the first training session.

“No matter the faith, their loved ones are suffering and they want to help, but they just need someone to walk through them with that,” Pastor Day-Achauer

She said providers are training the faith-based groups to work within their strengths, and use that to decide how they can best deal with addiction epidemic.

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