Pastors Receive Training To Help Addicts

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

Overcoming addiction isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination. Pastors looking to lend a hand, though, can often make a big difference.

A one of a kind conference on Saturday at Bridgewater College had some Valley pastors meeting with professionals in substance abuse prevention.

Pastor Wayne Pence of Mountain View Fellowship Church in McGaheysville is no stranger to offering helpful advice. Recently, a woman asked him what she should do about her husband's addiction.

"I saw it as a very positive sign that they actually came and would talk to their pastor about that, because, so often that's not done," he said. "I was glad for that. We had a very open conversation."

Even though that conversation was open, Pence said he would have liked to have had additional background information on the addiction.

That's why he went to the substance abuse conference.

"I figured if we can get everybody together and have a conversation and the organizations that provide the treatment for the substance abuse folks can meet some of the pastors then it might be easier to make a smooth transition in terms of pastoral care," said Dr. Brian Kelley, who organized the conference.

There are many ways to tackle addiction. One lesson learned Saturday, give advice about the music the addict listens to.

"When you're in a bar and you're listening to music, you're not really listening to the music, you're just hearing it," said John Graybeal, a bio-psychology doctorate student. "They've basically shown that if you play lyrics by a bunch of artists and their songs contain references to alcohol, then you spend more money on alcohol."

One of the most useful bits of information the conference provided, is also one of a pastor's greatest abilities when it comes to helping those in need, Pence said.

"Just being knowledgeable of where to refer people is often the most important thing I can do, because I'm not going to be knowledgeable enough to work towards real counseling or treatment on my own."

The conference concluded with a panel discussion with experts on substance abuse treatment, and correctional officers explaining how that substance abuse works in the prison system.


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