Organizers of an event planned for this coming weekend in Hazard say faith can be a powerful ally in bringing a halt to drug addiction.
Joseph Engle, a preacher from Lost Creek, said the meaning behind Saturday’s Healing Hazard event is meant to illustrate that addiction to drugs can be overcome. The program will include testimony from several local residents who Engle said were able to break their own addictions through Christianity. The hope is that others will be inspired to take a similar journey to recovery.
“It’s a night for people struggling with addiction or things to come out and see others who’ve been set free from it by the Lord,” said Engle.
Drug abuse in Perry County has come with a heavy toll in recent years. More than 60 people died as a result of drug overdoses in the county in 2010 and 2011, according to the coroner’s office. Authorities in Hazard have estimated that nearly 90 percent of the local crime, from theft to forgery, can in some way be traced back to the local problem with drug addiction, mainly to prescription medications such oxycodone.
Engle actually spends his days as the deputy chief of the Hazard Police Department, and while he noted that Healing Hazard is in no way affiliated with the department, it is his experience that tells him drug addiction is not something that can be cured through law enforcement alone.
“We’ve arrested people for 15 years, and it don’t help them,” he said. “We’re trying to find a fix instead of arresting them.”
Healing Hazard will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at the Perry County Public Library. In addition to testimony from former addicts, officials with Chad’s Hope, a faith-based rehabilitation center in Clay County, will also be on hand, as will officials with Operation UNITE. Engle noted that UNITE operates a program to help cover the costs of rehabilitation for residents of Congressman Hal Rogers’ congressional district.
“We just want to give them avenues and different ways to get out of addiction,” Engle said, adding that the message of overcoming addiction will be that much stronger when people can see others who have done it themselves.
“You can listen to preachers and others talk all day,” he said, “but to actually see somebody who’s been there and delivered from drug addiction, it’s different.”