Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the season of Lent in the Christian calendar. Ash Wednesday is named for its central ritual – the imposing of ashes on the foreheads of believers in the shape of a cross. This cross is a penitential symbol that reminds us of our human frailty and, in light of that, of our need both for God and the season of self-reflection that follows Ash Wednesday – the forty days of Lent.
On January 24, I preached a sermon on addiction and invited us to spend time in prayer this Lent for this plague, this sin, that has so many in its deadly grip. I asked that we pray for ourselves, for those affected by addiction and for God’s heart leading us to think about how we might respond as a church community.
In August 2015, WKSU reported on how the heroin was ravaging whole communities in Ohio and on WKYC, Cuyahoga Falls firefighter and paramedic, Charles Kilbel, said “…if they use, they will die. It might not be tomorrow. But if they continue to use, at some point they will die.”
The number of deaths due to fentanyl and heroin overdose in Ohio in 2015 were staggering, as many as 4-5 people per week.
The Akron Beacon Journal showed statistics that debunk our assumptions about who succumbs to addiction – their gender, race, and age. Addiction affects all the demographic groups of our society – no one is immune. Indeed, many of the lives of First Church members have been touched by addiction.
I believe we need to begin to tell ours stories, to speak out and not to allow addiction to be a dirty secret we feel we need to bury along with the shame and trauma that so often accompany it. I am certain that as a church community we need to speak out declaring more clearly than ever God’s love for each person, God’s redemptive power and the grace that is available and join with the grassroots organizations that are seeking to bring hope and recovery.
Here are some of those resources and I look forward to hearing your thoughts during this Lenten season:
- Call Info Line at 211 to get names and phone numbers for places locally that can help you or a loved one with substance abuse.
- The Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADM) Board Crisis Center: 330-996-7730 (24/7).
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse has some excellent resources for parents.
- Start Talking Ohio has resources for parents and businesses.
- SOLACE (Surviving Our Loss and Continuing Everyday) promotes public awareness and provides support for those who have lost a loved one to a drug-related death. To learn more about the Summit County chapter, or to get contact information for the county in which you live, contact Amanda Frye at 1-330-461-1205.
- The Gap Network helps families affected by the consequences of substance abuse.
- Nar-Anon program for family and friends of addicts.
- Narcotics Anonymous: 330-678-7564 or 24-hour line at 1-888-438-4673.
- Heroin Anonymous.
- Akron Al-Anon (including Alateen): 330-645-1165
- Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County: 330-673-1756.
- Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Stark County: crisis line is 330-452-6000.
- Mental Health & Recovery Board of Wayne County: 330-264-2527.
- Medina County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board: 330-723-9642.
- The Recovery Village. Find resources for drug and alcohol rehabilitation and support for affected loved ones in the Akron area.
List Source: Akron Beacon Journal