“Why should I carry naloxone? I don’t really hang out with anyone who uses drugs. I’ll probably never be around when someone is overdosing.”
Maybe you’ve heard people say this. Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. If so, don’t feel bad. I think it’s common among many people, even those who live at the heart of the overdose crisis in rural America.
But I wrote Drugs & Jesus for people of faith… churches, pastors, laypeople, and the like. More specifically, I wrote it as a call to action for compassionate evangelicals who possess a social conscience. Because believe it or not, this sentiment prevails even among those good-hearted folks.
There may be some truth behind it, but what I’m saying is, you never know.
Recently, I had coffee with a pastor friend of mine. As we were talking, his eyes lit up and he exclaimed, “Oh, listen! I have to tell you this story…”
He then proceeded to tell me about a guy who recently fell off his roof. Yeah, fell off his roof. Talk about an insurance liability!
As it turns out, the man was part of a work crew that was installing a new roof on his house. My friend had gone out for a while, and when he returned home, he was shocked to find the man lying on the ground with another worker standing over him.
You can probably guess what happened. He had overdosed - right there on the roof.
Now, here’s the thing. My friend is no stranger to people who use drugs. Having worked with individuals in recovery at a previous church, he knew how to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose, and he knew about naloxone’s life-saving ability to reverse an overdose. But he wasn’t used to carrying naloxone or keeping it close by, so when that fateful moment came, he didn’t have the tools he needed to act on behalf of his neighbor.
“That experience opened my eyes,” he said. “I’ll never get caught without it again.”
Fortunately, the man who overdosed survived that day. First responders were called, and even before they arrived, the crew foreman showed up with Narcan in his truck. The worker sustained minimal injuries from his fall, and he was back on the roof the very next day getting the job done.
As I listened to my friend tell this story, it was clear to me what it meant to him. Everything about his body language, expressions, and tone of voice spoke the language of personal discovery. There simply was no question about it: this experience was a turning point for him… a defining moment that fundamentally changed his perspective.
But please understand. This brother leads one of the most recovery-friendly churches in town. Hundreds of individuals show up to their building each week, not just for support meetings but to attend the Sunday service as well. They feel safe and seen at his church in a way they don’t in many other congregations.
And yet it took a random worker overdosing at his house to convince him that this could happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Having now come to a very personal understanding of this sobering reality, carrying naloxone just makes sense. Even for people in small town Appalachia, and especially for people of faith.
Still don’t believe me? Then read the book. Drugs & Jesus may challenge your preconceptions to the point of discomfort, but it will do so with grace, because it was written to convince you to act on behalf of your neighbor…
… hopefully before he falls off your roof.