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  • Baptist Beacon

Pastors preventing substance abuse

BIRMINGHAM, AL – Nearly 1 in 10 Michigan residents abuse illicit drugs. It’s a higher rate than the national average. Drug abuse among men, women, and youth in Michigan, as well as the rate of drug-induced deaths, is rapidly increasing. Drug and alcohol use among the state’s adolescents is skyrocketing, resulting in high numbers of youth, under the age of 18, arrested for drug abuse violations. Some of these drug-abusing adolescents are as young as twelve years old. The Michigan Department of State Police reports that 61% of people incarcerated in Michigan have a history of drug and alcohol abuse. (1)

Some believe that Michigan’s rising drug epidemic results from the state’s high unemployment rate, bringing great financial pressures to residents due to lack of employment opportunities and unexpected job losses. Others cite recent budget cuts that have reduced the number of Michigan’s substance abuse prevention programs. (2)

Michigan’s Most Abused Substances (in order of abuse)

  • Marijuana

  • Heroin

  • Prescription Opiates

  • Cocaine

  • Alcohol

  • Methamphetamine

How Pastors Can Help

Pastors, alarmed by the rising statistics for drug and alcohol abuse, can often help prevent substance abuse in their church and community. Here are some suggestions:

  • Speak/preach often about the increasing rate of substance abuse in your church and community. From your pulpit, promote SBC Sunday emphases, such as Substance Abuse Prevention Sunday on March 19, 2017. Plan a special service, talk about the problem, invite a guest speaker to give information, ask a former abuser to give a testimony, etc.

  • Educate your church members on the most abused substances in your community/state. Teach them how to recognize substance abuse signs, and encourage them to report a possible abuser to church leadership.

  • Research, check out, and make a list of qualified health care providers and drug/alcohol treatment centers in your area. Keep the information available and updated in order to contact in an emergency, enlist help, or recommend treatment to abusers and/or their family members who care for them.

  • Plan separate church events/programs for youth and parents that expose the dangers of drugs and alcohol, offer insights into understanding commonly used drugs, addictions, and the health/emotional consequences of illegal drug/alcohol abuse.

How to Recognize Drug Abuse and Addiction

Here are a few common physical and behavioral signs of drug abuse/addiction:

  • anxiety, irritability, hyperactivity, lethargy, and unpredictable mood swings

  • tremors, shakiness, red eyes, runny nose, problems with coordination

  • a constant need for money; poor work or school performance; unexplained confusion

  • unusual weight gain or loss; physical withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug; changes in attitude or friends for no reason.

Online Resources


1. Found at:

3. Found at: Accessed: Jan. 10, 2017.



Denise George, author of 30 books, is co-author of the new Penguin Random House book: The Lost Eleven: The Forgotten Story of Black American Soldiers Brutally Massacred in World War II. She is married to Dr. Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University.


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