September is National Recovery Month, and The United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) urges congregations to participate.
In an article on the GBCS website, "Tackling Addiction," the Rev. Cynthia Abrams states that while it is essential for churches wishing to combat substance addiction to provide space for 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), education about addiction and advocating for effective public policy are "critically important," too.
"These are additional tools that congregations need to embrace alongside recovery programs," she writes.
When a church simply opens its doors to a 12-step group, Abrams contends, the church's members spend little – if any – time learning how to engage in a comprehensive approach to addiction prevention and recovery.
By contrast, a comprehensive approach is one in which addiction recovery ministry is integrated into worship and the regular study and programs of the congregation, she says.
While 12-step programs "have affected millions of lives and offered hope to many people who are now in lifelong recovery," Abrams writes, "We are called to dig deeper and go further in our own education and advocacy by addressing the systemic, stealthy ways that addiction infiltrates our society. Extending addiction ministry to prevention and advocacy addresses the … root causes that lead people to need recovery programs in the first place."
For more information and resources, visit the Addiction Recovery page on the Conference website, at www.cnumc.org/recovery.