INDIANAPOLIS — Faith communities are coming together to do more to fight the opioid epidemic in central Indiana.
An Indianapolis mother, who is also a reverend, hopes church leaders take advantage of the opportunity.
“A year ago at this time, our family was preparing for the worst. It was that bad,” said Rev. Andrea Boutselis, mother of recovering addict.
It is a dark place for any family to fall into, losing any hope of their loved one to break free from their addiction.
For Boutselis, it is a reality that was all too real.
“There are days that I did not have a prayer left in me. And fortunately I was surrounded by people that did,” said Boutselis.
Boutselis and her family just celebrated a huge milestone. Her son has been clean for 12 months.
“I am so proud of him, I feel like I have my son back. He is amazing. I love him,” said Boutselis.
As a family that knows the journey to recovery all too well, Boutselis also understands the stigma.
“Unfortunately you just can’t openly go out and talk to people about it because they will judge you. And therefore there are a lot of people in the pews in churches that are silently suffering and it shouldn’t be that way,” said Boutselis.
She sees first-hand, not just at home but also at work, the toll of the opioid epidemic.
“I am passionate about this. I am a chaplain at a hospital and the ER’s are getting slammed with this every single night,” said Boutselis.
A leader in her faith community, Boutselis wants other interfaith leaders to step up and be a resource for those who are struggling with addiction.
“I think the church is the most underutilized resource that we have and we can do much better. This is what we are called to do, this is what the church is called to do. We are to be in the community, we are to be compassionate, we are to be inclusive, we are to be there for the marginalized people. And people with addictions are often treated that way. This is not a moral failure, this is a sickness,” said Boutselis.
There is an effort to keep the safe place of worship a safe place for all those who are touched by addiction.
On Friday, June 15, at 11 a.m., there is an event called “The Interfaith Community’s Role in Response to the Opioid Epidemic.”
“We should be talking about it. We should be talking about it openly, we should be talking about it honestly. And we should be talking about it continuously,” said Boutselis.
The event at the Indiana Interchurch Center – Krannert Hall is meant to educate the interfaith community on the opioid epidemic.
All leaders of the faith community, chaplains, youth ministries, addiction counselors, and social agencies in Indianapolis and surrounding counties are encouraged to attend.