The Apostle Paul exhorts:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NASB).
Pennsylvania’s “City of Brotherly Love” (Philadelphia) has a new interpretation for bearing one another’s burdens: open up facilities where drug users can “safely” inject illegal drugs such as heroin, and OxyContin and Vicodin (illegally obtained prescription pain killers):
“U.S. District Judge Gerald A. McHugh wrote that a provision of the Controlled Substances Act aimed at closing crack houses does not apply to the nonprofit organization’s bid to aid opioid abusers [have sage injections] in Philadelphia’s drug-ravaged Kensington section.”
With President Trump’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis (that is, the abuse of heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, et al.), overdoses are down 21 percent in Pennsylvania, but this court ruling could reverse the positive progress being made. Nothing could be more devastating for recovery efforts than investing resources in opening “legal” drug sites where illegal drug use is protected.
So, just how widespread is the opioid problem? According to the World Health Organization:
“There were an estimated 27 million people who suffered from opioid use disorders in 2016. The majority of people dependent on opioids used illicitly cultivated and manufactured heroin, but an increasing proportion used prescription opioids [such as OxyContin and Vicodin].”
Young people also suffer widely from this opioid epidemic:
“Six percent of 12- to 17- year-olds, 12 percent of 18- to 25- year-olds, and 5 percent of persons age 26 or older, used prescription drugs non-medically in the past year.”
Supervise the suffering or save lives?
People who are suffering should be assisted, but rather than protecting illegal drug use, cities like Philadelphia should be investing in rehabilitation. As affirmed by the US Department of Health & Human Services, the results can be life-saving:
“Efforts to expand treatment are succeeding: Data suggests approximately 1.27 million Americans are now receiving medication-assisted treatment, out of approximately 2 million Americans with opioid use disorder. Since President Trump took office, the number of patients receiving buprenorphine [used to treat opioid addiction] has increased 28 percent, and the number of naltrexone [to prevent relapses] prescriptions per month has increased 55 percent.”
Many of our Founding Fathers suffered cruel and debilitating illnesses, injuries, and lifelong pain (including George Washington from chronic effects of small pox, Caesar Rodney from face cancer, Thomas Jefferson from incurable migraines, and James Madison from the lasting effects of malaria, just to name a few). How might American history have changed if their fellow citizens had offered “legal” drug sites for abusing drugs as an answer to their suffering?
Their approach then (as it should be now) was to help people get out of bad circumstances, not help them become comfortable in that bad situation. As George Washington urged:
“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and so let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”
On the front lines
Christians should be on the front lines of assisting those who are ill to become healthy because serving others is serving Christ:
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’…‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:35-36, 40 NASB).
Now, “go and do likewise!” (Luke 10:37)