Prayer service reaches out to heroin addicts

Rev. Barry Long, Senior pastor of The Vineyard Christian Church
Rev. Barry Long, Senior pastor of The Vineyard Christian Church

FLORENCE, KY (FOX19) - As the heroin epidemic continues to devastate lives across the Tri-State, hundreds gathered at The Vineyard Christian Church in Florence this evening for a prayer service.

The focus of the service was hope.

Northern Kentucky has been called the epicenter of the state's heroin problem, but the folks gathered for tonight's prayer service were reminded they have a powerful ally in the almighty.

There was music, prayer and speakers offering solid advice on dealing with a heroin addict.

That's something Patty Smith of Independence is all too familiar with. Her daughter, Stacey, is an addict now in recovery and Patty urges anyone affected by addiction not to give up.

"There is recovery, there is hope for these people that we think there is no hope. It's an epidemic here. Everybody's taking drugs and there in the hospital and they're dying and they're overdosing. There is help," said Patty.

Help came too late for Eric Specht's son Nicholas, who died of an overdose last August.

Specht said he is trying to raise awareness through a group his family organized called NKY Hates Heroin.

"Make resources more easily available, more readily available. Try to work in conjunction with other organizations that are trying to affect recovery and try to spread the word and reduce the stigma."

Addiction experts say the stigma and shame keeps a lot of addicts out of treatment.

Rev. Barry Long, Senior pastor of The Vineyard Christian Church in Florence, says heroin is a powerful drug that requires a power weapon.

"Pray about it. To do something about it and we believe prayer is the place where you start."

Pastor Long says he wants those gathered at the prayer service to leave with a call to action.

"What I'd like them to leave with is a sense of mission and that is a mission that this is our community. It's not the drug dealers community and we're going to take it back and I don't mean by violence. I mean by love and all the weapons of love. Prayer, care and support of the authorities to do the job they need to do."

Experts say fighting the heroin problem requires a multi-faceted approach including awareness, treatment and law enforcement.  The Kentucky legislature recently approved a measure that does just that.

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