United Church of Christ

Pastoral Considerations with People Who Use Drugs and People at Risk of Overdose

  • Uplift the humanity of people who use drugs by including their voices and experiences in all facets of liturgy/church life. Provide space for people impacted by substance use to tell their stories.
  • Familiarize yourself with harm reduction resources, barriers to care, and drug policy/laws impacting people who use drugs in your city/state.
  • Using person-affirming and non-stigmatizing language when talking about substance use and the people who use them.
  • Include explicit mention of drug related stigma, incarceration, overdose, substance use/misuse/disorder, harm reduction, and recovery in sermons, prayers, benedictions, etc.
  • Acknowledge primary/vicarious trauma and complicated grief experienced by people who use drugs and their loved ones, especially in light of the current overdose crisis.
  • Solicit donations of and for harm reduction supplies, naloxone, and financial support for people who use drugs.
  • Connect with your local union of people who use drugs to see how you can provide support during this time.
  • Provide opportunities to ritualize the experiences of people who use drugs such as naming ceremonies for lives lost to overdose.
  • Make space/list meeting times for a variety of support programs including AA/NA/CA etc. including Harm Reduction Works, MARA, SMART Recovery, etc.

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