Faith Leaders Conference Tackles Opiate Epidemic

by Brenna Zuranski, Public Relations Writer

The church’s role in the growing opioid crisis in Ohio will be addressed at the Faith Leaders Conference on Friday, Oct. 21, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Cedarville University. The event, an initiative of the Drug-Free Action Alliance (DFAA) and supported by Gov. John Kasich, will equip faith leaders to help prevent substance abuse and support those who need restoration.

Cedarville’s School of Pharmacy continues to take an active role in educating communities in Ohio about the dangers of substance abuse. A number of its doctor of pharmacy students will speak at the conference on their work with Gov. Kasich’s “Start Talking” drug education initiative, which helped church leaders disseminate educational resources to fight the ever-increasing drug epidemic.
The conference will feature presentations from Marcie Seidel, executive director of the DFAA; Jim Joyner, Chemical Dependency Counselor Clinical Supervisor at Joyner & Associates; and Sheila Raye Charles, daughter of legendary singer Ray Charles. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will also be on hand to speak with the press before the conference begins.

Joyner has worked with alcohol and drug prevention, treatment and training for more than 45 years. Charles inspires her audiences with stories of her struggle with drug addiction and her spiritual journey to recovery while delivering moving, life-giving music.

Lauren Bluhm, a fourth-year Doctor of Pharmacy student at Cedarville University, will deliver a presentation that will challenge pastors and church leaders to implement strategies of the initiative in churches across the state.

“I’m excited to encourage faith leaders to use the material we created as a tool to help those that are struggling with or need healing from addiction within their congregation,” said Bluhm. "If it wasn’t for Cedarville supplying me with the opportunity to speak about the dangers of drug abuse and how to prevent it, I wouldn’t be able to be as active or have this platform."

According to state research, Ohio loses eight people every day to accidental drug overdose, and while many churches want to be a resource for recovery and healing, many don’t know how best to help and protect their community from the drug epidemic.
Marc Sweeney, Pharm.D., dean of the school of pharmacy, sees much significance in Cedarville hosting the event.

“Because the governor’s office decided that the church should play an active role in prescription drug abuse, it makes sense for us to play an active leadership role in that initiative across the state,” said Sweeney. “The conference is a great way we can be an advocate of that initiative.”

Seidel says this is the first time the DFAA has partnered with Cedarville, and the alliance looks forward to working with the institution in the future.

“Cedarville’s School of Pharmacy is like-minded with our vision of promoting healthy lives through the prevention of substance abuse by arming people with information and resources about what substance abuse is, who is afflicted and how they can help,” said Seidel.

It’s also the first time the DFAA has specifically targeted a faith-based community to help in the drug abuse problem.

To register for this event visit: http://www.cedarville.edu/Event/Faith-Leaders-Conference.aspx.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,760 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.