Faith and community leaders can help individuals and families impacted by addiction. They can lift up messages of support. They can also provide information on how to access services for substance use disorder if necessary.

Knowing how to respond to these events can make a huge difference in how the individual, family and community copes and heals. The following information comes from a partnership between the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and The Partnership Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Helping as a First Responder

  • Negative attitudes and discrimination of people with substance use disorders/addiction can impede recovery.
  • Religious leaders can help lessen negative attitudes, fear, and discrimination against people with SUD by creating a safe and supportive environment where people can openly talk about their addiction issues and recovery. Empathy and active listening can help build relationships and support recovery for people living with mental illnesses.
  • Community connectedness and support, like that found in faith-based and other neighborhood organizations, are important to the long-term recovery of people living with SUD.
  • Your understanding of addiction and the many pathways to recovery can help people achieve their full potential.

Addiction Outreach & Education

Faith communities play a key role in identifying opportunities to discuss the importance of addiction issues. They can supply facts about the disease and explain the role religious and other community organizations can play in supporting individuals and their families. Most importantly, they can encourage them to seek help:

  • Organize additional meetings, dinners, or other gatherings for members of your congregation or community to have conversations about addiction and recovery.
  • Create a welcoming, supportive, safe and non-judgmental environment to address addiction issues within the congregation and in community settings.
  • Let people know it is okay to talk about SUD, treatment and recovery with an approach that supports prevention, treatment and recovery.
  • Encourage people with SUD – and their families – to seek help and assist them in finding help when needed.
  • Promote positive mental health and sobriety through fellowship.
  • Foster opportunities to build connections with individuals and families dealing with addiction, whether they are actively using or in recovery.
  • Consider offering meeting spaces for community conversations and support groups focused on recovery.
  • Develop relationships with treatment and recovery partners such as Valley Hope. Help to direct individuals and families in need to available services and support in the community.
  • Invite local experts on addiction and recovery to speak at community gatherings and educational hours. Valley Hope offers a variety of expert speakers and engaging presentations that educate and connect.

Together, we can help save our families and communities. Reach out to Valley Hope for a free resource guide developed specifically for community faith leaders: info@valleyhope.org.