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Berks County group hosts workshop on addiction for faith community

When people are faced with a crisis, they often turn to their faith.

Religious leaders are many times the first line of defense, the first person to get a call when someone needs help and guidance. That’s certainly true for those dealing with addiction.

Whether it’s looking for help for themselves or seeking advice on helping a loved one, members of the faith community are frequently on the front lines of the battle against substance abuse.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge of Berks County held a special workshop to help provide them with the tools they need and the resources available to them to be successful in that fight.

“This is so important because if someone is reaching out the last thing you want to do is turn them away,” said Rosemarie Sullivan Sandman, the advancement and compliance officer for the nonprofit organization. “And you have to strike when the iron is hot because you might lose that window of opportunity to get them the help that they need.”

The workshop, which was open to all members of the faith community who wanted to learn about supporting
people in recovery or struggling with addiction, was led by executive director of counseling services Nathan Scheffler and ministry ambassador Pastor Bryan Koch.

Scheffler stressed to participants that addiction should not be merely written off as a moral decision.

“Many think addiction is a moral decision or a disease,” he said. “It is actually both. It starts out as a moral decision and grows into an addiction when one continues to use over time. Extended use changes the brain chemistry —  and it becomes a brain disease.”

But he added that addiction is treatable.

“We feel that individuals who suffer from a disease should not be locked up in prison thus we are here to let them know that people can heal through finding recovery at a rehab,” he said. “Addiction causes the brain to rely on emotion instead of intellect and it is important to know with help this can be reversed.”

Scheffler said members of the faith community have an opportunity to help guide those who are struggling toward recovery resources like Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge. He said the organization meets people where they are to ensure individuals are provided the correct level of treatment.

Sandman said attendees of the meeting were given a list of local resources as well as information regarding the addiction and how they can better serve those members of their flock that need help.

Source: Berkshire mont

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