Church association sponsors forum on opioid epidemic - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Church association sponsors forum on opioid epidemic

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Evidenced by the record number of overdoses recorded in Trumbull County last month, the opioid epidemic continues to plague our community. 

So Wednesday night, the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches sponsored a forum at Mineral Ridge High School to educate the public on hope, healing, and recovery.

When thinking about her daughter, Amy Giovannone thinks of "her hugs, her love, her heart." This is how she will always remember her daughter, Sierra, who died at the age of 23, not by her addiction.

"They found a woman on the side of the road, west side of Warren, beat up and naked thrown out of a car; that's my child. That is not the call you want to get," Giovannone said.

Sierra was prescribed OxyContin when she was 15 after surgery for scoliosis.

"This is one who was too ashamed to tell me, 'Mom I can't get off these pills,' because of the stigma,"  Giovannone said.

She aims to help others with a message for them to not be ashamed and to believe in the power of themselves and a higher power.

It was a faith-based rehab program that her daughter was sober the longest in out of seven different rehabs.

Spirituality in the recovery process was addressed at this community event that was sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches (MVAC) and one of its leaders says recovery ministry is something that more churches are becoming interested in providing.

The Reverend Dr. Robin Woodberry, executive director of MVAC and assistant pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church, said that their church provides recovery ministry and a narcotics anonymous group meets there weekly.

"We want people to come for prayer if you need prayer, come for counseling if you need counseling just whatever you need spiritually that we can assist you with. We want to be able to do that and there are more churches who are finding ways to incorporate that into their ministries," she said.

It is a holistic approach with the churches and the recovery agencies each doing their own part.

Gary Brooks, an addictions counselor at Glenbeigh Hospital, noted that the 12-step recovery program, Alcoholics Anonymous, was started by people of Christian faith in Akron in 1935.

"They decided that they needed to talk about how you put spirituality into play to help someone who's struggling with addictive behaviors. That's how AA got started. The same thing is happening here this evening," Brooks said.

He reiterated a message that was shared by many of the speakers that recovery works and there is hope that he sees every day. 

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