USA (MNN) — According to the latest CDC data, 46 people die every day from an opioid overdose. Between 1999 and 2017, overdoses related to prescription opioids claimed nearly 218,000 lives.
A recent study published by the University of Michigan reveals a possible link between suicide and opioids. In Michigan, deaths from suicide and unintentional overdoses more than tripled between 2000 and 2017.
The opioid crisis hit close to home this month for a ministry based in West Michigan. Set Free Ministries’ Dean Vander Mey says a friend accidentally overdosed and lost his life. Two years ago, the same thing happened to this man’s brother. “They were messing around with these opioids and they were blending them,” Vander Mey shares.
Tragically, stories like this are all too common. On a ranking of states by opioid-related deaths, Michigan and Pennsylvania tied at number 11. West Virginia and New Hampshire topped the list with death rates of 43.4 and 35.8 per 100,000, respectively.
“People are trying to numb their pain, whether it’s physical pain, emotional pain. The answer today is numb the pain.”
Michigan officials received a $10,000 grant this month to broaden access to treatment and improve prevention efforts. Vander Mey says there’s a spiritual element of addiction that’s not being addressed. “The presenting problem oftentimes is not the problem,” he explains.
“It’s kind of like trying to pull rotten fruit off the tree and actually it’s the roots of the tree that need to be exposed.”
He uses the following example to illustrate his claim.
Once enslaved by addiction, now free in Christ
Dan* was dining one afternoon at a local restaurant when Vander Mey noticed the telltale marks on his arms. “I just went up to him and said, ‘Hey, can I help you?’,” Vander Mey recalls. “I see you’re hurting, and I see you’re cutting.”
Thus began a conversation that would change Dan’s life forever. From a broken relationship with his parents to his current cutting and drug addiction, Dan began to walk through his life story with Vander Mey.
“The presenting problem wasn’t the real issue. The real issue was hurt, pain, rejection, hate. He had never processed any of it.”
At each critical juncture or “pain point,” Vander Mey introduced Dan to biblical truths. “If you honored your father and your mother, your days would go well, and they’re not,” he began. “You’re violating one of the basic laws, spiritual laws, that God put in place for the universe.
“It doesn’t matter if you know that law or not. It’s kind of like gravity – you don’t have to believe in gravity, but it works every time. If you climb a tree and say, ‘I don’t believe in gravity,’ guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to break your leg. It’s the same thing with God’s laws.
Next, Vander Mey asked Dan about rebellion, and pointed him to 1 Samuel 15:23. “Rebellion is the sin of witchcraft,” he explained. “Now you have voices, now you hear things. Those voices might be telling you to cut yourself.”
As the Holy Spirit opened Dan’s eyes to God’s truth, he asked Vander Mey a simple yet critical question – “What do I do?” Vander Mey, in turn, pointed to Christ as the one and only source of salvation and aid.
“He did (ask Christ for help) and that was the beginning of the journey out of addiction and out of suicidal ideation.”
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with opioid addiction or suicidal thoughts, contact Set Free Ministries here or call (616) 726-5400.
*- not his real name
Header image by Julie Viken from Pexels.