As communities of faith across West Virginia observe the annual Days of Hope this weekend, two Midland South District churches got a jump start in their proactive approach to addressing substance abuse prevention and recovery.
In keeping with this year’s theme of “You Can Touch a Life,” both Cross Lanes UMC and Winfield UMC recently served as two of the 17 sites across Kanawha and Putnam Counties hosting free Naloxone training and distribution during what was dubbed “Save-A-Life Day.” For resurrection people serving the God of second chances, equipping community members with the overdose-reversing drug and the training to properly use it seemed like a no-brainer for Rev. Chris Scott, who views such work as touching lives in the name of Jesus Christ.
“As people of new life and resurrection, the Holy Spirit gives us the eyes to see new life and transformation emerging all around us,” says the Winfield UMC pastor. “As carriers of Naloxone, we can literally be part of bringing new life and second chances to those struggling with substance abuse disorder.”
Over a thousand Naloxone kits – also known as Narcan – were distributed during the day-long event on September 2, which was organized by Joe Solomon, a social worker for Cabin Creek Health Systems and coordinator of Addiction Response Kanawha, in order to target communities that have seen upticks in opioid overdoses since the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Data collected last month by the Washington, D.C.-based Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program shows that overdoses have risen in the United States by approximately 18 percent since the pandemic began, including a significant increase in fatal overdoses. Rural areas such as those that make up much of West Virginia have been hit particularly hard.
With this year’s Days of Hope emphasizing the children victimized by the opioid epidemic, Naloxone training and distribution give churches the opportunity to touch the lives of those children by giving their parents or other family members a second chance at life, an opportunity to seek treatment and enter into long-term recovery.
“There are countless people in recovery that know they wouldn’t be alive to seek treatment if Narcan hadn’t saved their lives,” Scott says. “I encourage churches, pastors, and lay people to get trained and to carry Naloxone. You just might save a life.”
For Rev. Krysta Rexrode Wolfe, lead pastor at Cross Lanes UMC, the benefit of being a host site became apparent from the day’s outset. The first person that came through the door was a woman whose husband was prescribed opioids as part of his recovery from back surgery, and whose doctor suggested that Naloxone should be in their home as a precautionary measure.
“When she went to get the prescription filled, she was told it would cost nearly $80, and she thought she was going to have to choose between groceries and this life saving drug,” Rexrode Wolfe says of the encounter. “A local pharmacist told her we were giving away the same drug for free, just down the street. Knowing that this person was equipped to act in case of an overdose and they were able to buy necessities made the whole day worth it.”
Additional support for the event came from the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy, with the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation pitching in $30,000 to go along with $10,000 from the Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation. The University of Charleston, the Kanawha County Health Department, the West Virginia Bureau for Behavioral Health, West Virginia Health Right also provided support.
Dr. Krista Capehart, director of West Virginia University’s Wigner Institute of Advanced Pharmacy Practice, Education, and Research, and a member of the Winfield UMC congregation, led the educational training at that site.
“We saw folks from every walk of life come to receive Narcan” reflects Rexrode Wolfe. “Every one of them had a different reason, but every one of them walked away with the same capacity to give someone a chance for recovery.”
To read more about the event you can visit: https://www.wvpublic.org/post/more-1000-naloxone-kits-distributed-across-putnam-kanawha-counties#stream/0
If you are looking for resources or would like to talk to someone today about Narcan or other recovery resources visit help4wv.com Please remember, an overdose is a medical emergency. If you believe someone you know is experiencing an overdose call 911 immediately.