Trump opioid declaration underscores ministry need

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WASHINGTON — President Trump’s declaration that America’s opioid crisis is a public health emergency came amid calls for churches to heighten their response to drug abuse as well.

The opioid crisis is a “major problem,” said Robby Gallaty, pastor in Hendersonville, Tenn., and a former drug addict whose testimony has encouraged others to seek freedom in Christ. The opioid epidemic, he noted, is an opportunity “to show people that the thing they’re searching for and seeking is not found in a drug. It’s found in a man, and His name is Jesus.”

Trump’s Oct. 26 declaration of a public health emergency will allow his administration, among other actions, to expand telemedicine services for addicts in rural areas, hire temporary workers to engage the opioid crisis and use some HIV/AIDS resources for substance abuse treatment, according to a White House release.

Various federal departments and agencies, Trump said, also have been directed to use their emergency authority to address the crisis.

Critics said Trump’s declaration didn’t go far enough, the Associated Press reported, because it did not dedicate any new money to combatting opioid addiction.

Trump said 175 Americans die from substance overdoses daily and cited his late brother Fred’s struggle with alcoholism as part of his impetus to address addiction.

“The federal government is aggressively fighting the opioid epidemic on all fronts,” Trump said from the White House’s East Room.

Gallaty called churches to join the battle, saying that “sobriety without Christ is a dead-end street because you can’t break yourself free from the chains that have shackled you so long in sin.”

Churches must recognize drug addiction as a problem in their communities and offer Christ-centered recovery programs like Celebrate Recovery, Gallaty said, referencing an initiative developed by Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Churches should refer addicts to residential treatment programs as well, Gallaty said, and discourage family members from enabling substance abuse.

Drug and alcohol overdoses, the Trump administration said, are the leading cause of injury death in America.

— by David Roach | BP

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