OUR DIOCESE'S GOOD SAMARITANSWhile reciting a parish's Stewardship Prayer a few weeks ago, I was struck by a line that read, "Remind us that our parish and our world need Good Samaritans to heal the wounds of our times."
I immediately said a prayer of thanks for the many men and women I've been blessed to work with since the Substance Addiction Ministry (SAM) began in 1998. These dedicated people emulate the paradoxical hero of the Gospel story. When the supposed ministers of healing of their times passed the injured robbery victim who was struggling for his life, the unlikely, despised foreigner stopped and provided assistance to the stranger.
A great stigma still surrounds addictive disease, the result of minimal or no understanding of the illness. This is most observed at parish ministry fairs where people approach the SAM display, quickly pass by or look away, rarely stop by to chat or ask questions, and may sneak a peek when no one is tending to the display. I can hear passers-by saying to themselves, "How are they going to know I don't have a problem if I stop by or take some literature?" The myth still exists that people with addictive disease are bad, not sick.
Thank God for those SAM team members who have transcended the stigma, shame, and myths who are dedicating their special gifts with their fellow parishioners touched by addiction. These are the "fools who rush in where angels fear to tread". They are today's GOOD SAMs.
HAVE YOU HEARD?A recent survey of 12 to 17 year olds found that 70% saw great risk in smoking a pack or more of cigarettes daily, compared to 40% who saw great risk in binge drinking and about 34% who saw great risk in smoking marijuana monthly. (JTO 1-4-10)
Information, not scare tactics, helps smokers quit, according to a recent Yale University study. (JTO 1-12-10)
Drug use rising among seniors; Baby Boomers continue using. Marijuana use among older Americans was more prevalent than nonmedical use of prescription drugs. (JTO 1-11-10)
Long-term cocaine use can alter gene function in the brain, leaving "pleasure circuits" stuck in the open position thus increasing craving for the drug. (JTO 1-13-10)