After many years in the missions field as addiction and recovery specialists, in 2012, GOAL made its home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to address addiction in our backyard. The United States is experiencing one of its worst drug crisis: overdose deaths involving opioids have increased six-fold since 1999. In 2017, opioid overdoses killed more than forty-seven thousand people; to put this in context, it is more than six times the number of U.S. military service members killed in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Pennsylvania alone, opioid deaths surged more than 44 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This was the biggest jump in any state except Florida, and it leaves the Commonwealth with the fourth-highest rate of overdose deaths in
the country. More than 5,200 people died of overdoses in 2017, according to provisional estimates. South Central Pennsylvania experienced a 305% increase in heroin overdose hospitalization.
GOAL believes recovery from the disease of addiction must address the “hole in the soul” in each individual. The Church is best equipped to address this universal issue. A core message of GOAL is that a new relationship must be established with oneself, God and community to sustain recovery. GOAL provides professional volunteer training teams both locally and internationally that include:
- Conducting training on the disease of addiction;
- Developing curriculum which can be used in local and regional settings;
- Working collaboratively with a variety of organizations to assist in the building of courses and curricula that combines faith sensitivity and expert science;
- Providing assistance to congregations to develop sustainable team ministries in prevention and recovery support;
- Initiating 12-step recovery/support groups where they do not exist;
- Providing training for those persons going to international mission locations.
More specifically, GOAL Project supports the model of recovery which is both healing and a miracle: compassion and not punishment is the key that unlocks recovery. As such, the F.A.I.T.H. Initiatives Program (Face Addiction with Intervention and Training for Healing) (hyperlink) provides state of the art, certified, evidence-based training to faith leaders so that transformational healing and prevention programs/ministries are provided to parishioners who are afflicted by addictions or by the debilitating effects of loved ones struggling with addiction.
I had a “normal” upbringing in rural Vermont in the fifties. I eventually moved to Philadelphia and spent the next ten years changing jobs and trying to find myself while getting a library degree. I started finding my way back to the church and met my husband. We got married and had two girls. We “fell into” having a drink after dinner and thought nothing of it until one drink became several for my husband. Still, I was in denial and continued to manage my distress privately; but my girls knew there was a problem. After retirement, my husband began drinking to go to sleep; oftentimes, he passed out first, and there were many incidents where he got hurt. In one of his binges, he fell on our patio and fractured three ribs and punctured his lung. He was hospitalized for three months and was transferred to a physical rehabilitation unit for two weeks so he could learn to walk again. By this point, I had been going to Alanon – a 12 step program for families of alcoholics- for about 5 years seeking help to cope. However, I also sought comfort and direction from my church. While they were sympathetic, they really did not know how to help with addiction related issues. They referred me to a Stephen Minister who helped me deal with the grief and pain. While I was grateful for Stephen Ministers, it was distressing that my church did not have the ability to provide support for me and my family. Thankfully, my Associate Pastor was aware of my story, and when GOAL launched the F.A.I.T.H. Initiatives program, she pushed our church leaders to participate. I am a ministry member now and very happy to be part of this ministry to support others going through what I endured and am still enduring. I am grateful for GOAL Project for this training and coming alongside us. Families need this. Our churches need this. Our communities need this. I especially need this to give back to God. I am also very happy to share that my husband is now sober and regularly attends AA meetings.
– Cayley (Name changed for privacy.)