Half of Protestant Pastors Say the Opioid Epidemic Has Hit Their Church

News & Reporting | 11/19/2019 | Staff
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Like most US pastors, Robby Gallaty knows someone who has been affected by opioid abuse. But unlike most pastors, Gallaty has personally suffered through addiction.

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Years - Month - Gallaty - Car - Accident

Twenty years ago this month, Gallaty endured a near-fatal car accident. When he left the hospital, the club-bouncer-turned-church-leader took with him several prescriptions for painkillers.

“My descent into full-scale drug abuse was amazingly rapid,” he writes in his new book, Recovered: How an Accident, Alcohol, and Addiction Led Me to God. “In November of 1999, before the accident, I was selling cars, training for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and thinking about business opportunities. By early the next year, I was looking for faster and better drug connections.”

Parents - Addiction - Gallaty - Parents - Home

After stealing $15,000 from his parents to feed his addiction, Gallaty found himself at his lowest point—kicked out of his parents’ home and told not to come back. “It was the hardest three months of their lives, and they’ll tell you that,” he said. “But it was the best thing for me. I knew that I couldn’t fix myself.”

This led Gallaty, now pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, to what he calls a “radical, Paul-like conversion” on November 12, 2002.

Pastors - Intimate - Knowledge - Addiction - Gallaty

Most pastors don’t have the intimate knowledge of addiction Gallaty has, but most say they’ve seen it face to face through people connected to their church and among members of their congregation.

Nashville-based LifeWay Research asked 1,000 Protestant pastors about their personal connections to the opioid epidemic and how their churches are looking to address the issue.

Two-thirds - Pastors - % - Family - Member

Two-thirds of pastors (66%) say a family member of someone in their congregation has been personally affected by opioid abuse.

More than half (55%) say they or someone in their congregation knows a local neighbor suffering through opioid abuse.

Half - Pastors - % - Someone

For half of pastors (52%), someone directly in their...
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