Kasich calls on clergy to help fight opioid epidemic

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke to a roomful of faith leaders Thursday about the state’s opioid epidemic.

“I think the Lord has given us the brains to figure out many of these problems,” Kasich said.

Citing the crackdown on pill mills and stricter rules for doctors on opioid prescriptions, Kasich said the state has made great progress in dealing with the opioid problem. But he called on the clergy to raise their voices to their congregations and in their communities.

Kasich spoke at a conference in Westerville organized to provide faith leaders with information and potential action plans for churches.

Lorie Kaufman-Rees runs the support and recovery ministry at Vineyard church.

“There are places where there are gaps in the system,” Kaufman-Rees said. “Particularly when there are people going from like the ER into treatment or going from treatment into safe, sober living. Those gaps are areas where the church can kind of fill in and provide resources there.”

Brian Hall attended the conference as a representative of Primary Health One. He knows, first hand how faith can play a role in recovery.

“I was addicted to heroin and I was addicted to crack at the expense of a 26-year marriage and six sons,” Hall says. “Tore it up but God made a way for me. Things were presented to me, opportunities and I took advantage of them. I believe that God helped me and I’m just thankful that it can be done.”

Kasich said faith leaders and churches should be involved.

“We fight this from the top down and we need to fight this from the bottom up,” Kasich said. “Today we had the clergy, very powerful and really special people, and from the pulpit, the synagogue, the mosque, they can have a dramatic impact.”

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