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Attorney General shares faith-based initiative to combat addiction

By WENDY HOLDREN

The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — In an effort to empower the community and faith-based leaders in the fight against the opioid epidemic, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey shared his initiative, Combating Addiction with Grace, Tuesday at Calvary Assembly of God in Beckley.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey speaks at the Calvary Assembly of God in Beckley during a “Combating Addiction with Grace” conference. Faith-based groups, first responders and local substance abuse treatment groups came together to discuss ways to combat opiates. (Register-Herald photo by Rick Barbero)

While he said there aren’t treatment facilities in every community, there is a church in every community.

“We’re really hopeful that local communities and leaders can take their communities back,” Morrisey said. “Federal, state and local governments are doing good things, but at the end of the day, you need specific individuals in the community organizing community networks and tapping into all resources to change people’s heads and hearts.”

Many locals leading the fight on the faith-based front joined the event, including representatives from One Voice and Brian’s Safehouse. Local law enforcement officers joined the discussion, too.

“The hope from today is to form an additional network in southern West Virginia that’s going to be in a position to have access to everything the state and the federal government has to offer,” Morrisey said. “But most importantly, to be out in the community every day on the front lines identifying the problem.”

The Attorney General said studies have shown faith-based initiatives work in terms of recidivism rates.

“We don’t want to push a one-size fits all approach, to say that every church or every entity has to do it a certain way,” Morrisey said. “This has to be a collaboration to share best practices around the state. That’s how you make it better, as opposed to mandating a particular type of practice.”

He said he hopes this model will encourage volunteers to be active in the fight against addiction.

“The object is to get everyone empowered, teach them the right tools, and have them engaged with people on the ground.”

Morrisey has shared the initiative with other communities, including Martinsburg, Parkersburg, Fairmont and Wheeling. Additional outreach will continue through the spring.

Email: [email protected]; follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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