Drug use, and particularly the use of often fatal opioids, is now an epidemic in the United States. But one church is actually trying to do something about it. Instead of blaming the addict, the Holy Family Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, is handing out Narcan.
Jeremy Bouer, who works for the Holy Family Church says that contact with those who have overdosed on opioids has spurred him to try to help. With the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 now being an opioid overdose, the epidemic has reached dangerous levels. But Bouer isn’t giving up. He’s now handing out Narcan at the church, and he’s likely to save a few lives.
Narcan is a fairly successful antidote to an opioid overdose. Bouer made the decision to hand out the drug after he found an overdose victim in front of his church in Cincinnati a few months ago. A week later, he encountered another at a nearby McDonald’s, and then another in his neighborhood. During its annual family festival over the weekend, the parish handed out Narcan kits to the congregation. Working with the state attorney general’s office, the church distributed 70 kits of the opioid overdose antidote.
“This 70 packs of Narcan, that is 70 lives,” Bouer told CNN affiliate WLWT. “I can’t wait to hear stories and testimonies of people being saved from the packs that are being served from our festival.” Overdose-related deaths have been on the rise all over the nation and Ohio has been hit hard. While it’s easy to blame the overdose victim, it’s easy to help them as well.
Cincinnati resident Jerri Grundy said she’s happy to see the church giving back in new ways. “These people need help from somewhere,” she said. “If the doctors are not going to help them, maybe it is the church or the Lord can help.” Drug makers and dealers have been cutting heroin with the synthetic fentanyl to give it a boost and stretch their supply or give a bigger kick, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. Just a quarter of a milligram can kill someone. Narcan can save the life an person who has overdosed, but some don’t think handing out the drug is a good idea.
“I think it is ridiculous,” Nicole Bellamo, a neighborhood resident, told WLWT about the church’s effort. “For one, really? At a festival? For two, they are doing them nothing but a favor so they can overdose again and again and again.” Some assume letting a drug user die is somehow morally superior to helping them live. Most drug abusers aren’t bad people, they simply need help to quit, and saving their lives to get that help is now the mission of the Holy Family Church, thanks to Bouer.
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