The Opioid Crisis

Posted in: Homilies

January 28, 2018 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

January 28, 2018
Mark 1:21-28
Fr. George Smiga

We believe that God created the world good. But at the same time we cannot deny that many evils characterize the world in which we live. We continue to experience war, poverty, prejudice, and injustice. All are threats to life. It is our role as disciples, then, to recognize the evils around us and to work against them.

This weekend the Catholic parishes of Lake and Geauga County are coordinating with the Lake County Opioid Task Force to raise the awareness of the opioid crisis that is afflicting our communities. Opioids are powerful drugs which doctors prescribe to control pain. For people who are dealing with severe and chronic pain they are a Godsend, and often the only way that they can find relief. But if used carelessly these drugs can become addictive and destructive. Abuse of opioid prescription drugs has exploded over the last ten years. Today 91 Americans die each day because of a drug overdose. Three out of four people who become addicted to heroin begin their journey to addiction through the use of prescription drugs. 50% of major crimes in our society are associated with drug abuse. The economic cost are staggering. When you measure the costs leveled against our health care system, penal system, and the loss of productivity as a nation, it is estimated that the abuse of drugs costs the United States 484 billion dollars each year!

There is no question that we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. And those who are most vulnerable are our children and our grandchildren. Young people often experiment as they grow. They experiment with tobacco and alcohol. But today opioid prescription drugs are also available. They do not need to buy these drugs from a dealer on the corner. They can find them in the medicine bottle on grandma’s nightstand.

In an attempt to address this crisis the Lake County Taskforce has set up a hotline. You will find the number on the yellow flyer in the narthex. The task force suggests three action steps that all of us can take to reduce the impact of drug abuse. First, purge your medicine cabinet. If you have been prescribed an opioid drug and have taken it successfully, do not keep whatever is left over. It is a temptation to those who would be addicts or abusers. Second, speak to your children and grandchildren. Let them know that they are free to talk to you about anything, and use the opportunity to make them aware of the extreme danger of drug abuse. Third, spread the word among your friends and coworkers that we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, and that the hotline is available for any information or help.

To these three suggestions I would like to add a fourth. Pray. Sometimes prayer is belittled as an excuse for action: we cannot do do anything, so we pray about it. But I would suggest to you that prayer is a preparation for action. If you and I would include each day a prayer for those who are struggling with drug abuse, two things would result. First, we would be more attentive and aware of the crisis that surrounds us. Secondly we would be reminded that Gods’ power over evil still exists in our world, and we do not have to fight evil alone. In today’s gospel Jesus drives out an unclean spirit that possesses a man at Capernaum. Opioid addiction is a modern counterpart to an unclean spirit. Jesus still has the power to drive out those things that enslave us. So I ask you all to pray, to pray for those who are addiction to drugs, asking God to heal them and save them. And as we pray we should realize that we are also telling God that, if he shows us the way, we will do our part to drive the demon out.

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