The opioid crisis and addiction ... offering hope and recovery


The diocesan moderator for spiritual formation offers the following reflections on the opioid crisis and the nature of addiction, and invites anyone affected by these things to attend a Sept. 6 Prayer and Healing Service in Jefferson City:

According to the American Psychiatric Association, addiction is a very complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence.

People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance or substances, such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life. They keep using alcohol or a drug even when they know it will cause problems.

Yet, a number of effective treatments are available and people can recover from addiction and lead normal, productive lives.

According to the Missouri Mental Health Association, substance misuse and substance use disorders have become a public health crisis.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports more than 72,000 Americans died of drug overdose in 2017.

One in seven people in the United States are expected to develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives, and only one in 10 receive any type of substance abuse treatment.

But there is hope.

The diocese responds

In response to this dreadful reality, the Diocese of Jefferson City is hosting an Ecumenical Prayer Service for all individuals and families affected by the opioid crisis or from addictions/compulsions of any kind.

In the midst of this awful calamity plaguing every aspect of our society, we strive to offer a healing service of hope and recovery.

All are welcome to gather together to offer our prayers and to bring awareness and hope to addicts and families through a holistic approach, including spirituality and close relationships.

For many years, addicts and alcoholics have met in our church basements, and now it is time to invite them and their families upstairs, into the sanctuary.

How can we as Church best respond in love to the addicted and the afflicted?

As faithful disciples and as the people of God, we are called to reach out to those who are suffering addictions of any kind, which are afflicting them and their loved ones.

There are many ways to assist and to offer hope and help: treatment programs, 12-step recovery groups, faith communities — all of these can contribute greatly to building awareness of both the severity of this problem, and the many ways that folks who are suffering with addiction can seek the help they need.

To minister and evangelize

“In my deepest wound I found You, Lord, and it dazzled me.” — St. Augustine

We as a diocese have a marvelous opportunity for renewed ministry and evangelization.

The results of our efforts might not be immediate, but we must seize the moment to plant seeds of faith and to help people, some of whom have been wounded by organized religion, to reconsider the Church, our communities and prayer.

We must all be mindful our God often calls us in our brokenness. Let us joyfully spread the message that God touches us in our wounds and in our frailty.

And then let us strive to bring a message of compassion and empathy, to affirm the dignity of every human being regardless of what they are suffering ... for this is what it means to imitate Jesus Christ as faithful disciples.

Healing power

“First there is the fall, and then we recover from the fall, both are the mercy of God.” — Julian of Norwich

Perhaps for many people — including those who are afflicted with an addiction/compulsion and their family members — the healing potential of 12-step programs, a discipline of prayer and meditation, and the sharing of common experiences of pain and struggle may all be a new concept.

But those who are in recovery from these trying challenges know differently.

From their own experience, they believe in the healing power of the sharing of our pain with others, daily self-examination, meditation and prayer.

They can attest to the fact that all of these things taken separately will bring much relief and benefit. But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life.

Folks in recovery are able, by grace, to “let go and let God,” to be released from the prison of addiction or compulsion and to the realization that our God calls us to be happy, joyous and free.

Confronting the lie

“The Glory of God is a human being fully alive.” — St. Irenaeus

So many people in our communities struggle with traditional “alcoholism and/or addiction,” but there are also many others who find themselves addicted to prescription painkillers.

In addition, all of us, if we are to be honest, experience feelings of inadequacy or the pain of broken relationships and estrangement from loved ones.

All of these challenges are addressed and healed when a person faces his or her demons and gives them up to God.

These wounded healers start going to meetings or praying privately or with others, and they begin to share their pain and challenges, and then their faith comes alive!

They learn that they can live one day at a time without getting high, without using.

So often, these souls who once thought that God had given up on them or could never love them (which is a lie straight from hell) in short order begin to experience the love and healing of God in action, in their lives and in their hearts.

A chance to pray and heal

“The Doctor of our souls has placed the remedy in the hidden regions of the soul.” — John Cassian

Please plan to join us for an Ecumenical Healing Prayer Service.

 We will gather on Friday, Sept. 6, in Immaculate Conception Church, 1206 E. McCarty St. in Jefferson City.

The doors will open at 6 p.m.

This very special event will include:

  • open 12-Step Meetings (AA-NA-Al Anon) for anyone who is a member of a fellowship, or for those who seek information about these programs for themselves or for a loved one;
  • seasoned sponsors from various 12-Step Programs available to listen to Fifth Steps;
  • teachings on Centering Prayer as an 11th Step practice;
  • priests of the diocese available for the sacrament of reconciliation; and
  • a healing prayer service beginning at 8 p.m., with the opportunity for a special blessing and commitments to recovery and healing.

This event will be followed with fellowship and hospitality.

Fr. Flatley is pastor of Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Vienna, St. Aloysius parish in Argyle and Holy Guardian Angels parish in Brinktown.

He can be reached by e-mail at