Franklin County faith community doing its part to combat opioid crisis

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LOUISBURG, N.C. (WNCN) – Downtown Louisburg is much like a lot of North Carolina’s small downtowns. The pride can be seen in its clean streets and sidewalks, as well as its shops and restaurants.

That isn’t the only thing Louisburg has in common with the rest of the state. As it turns out, the opioid crisis isn’t just a big city problem.

“It is very prevalent in the rural counties, as well. All over North Carolina, and the nation, as well. And no better place to do that than let the faith community lead the charge into healing people rather than punishing people,” said pastor Michael Safley with Louisburg United Methodist Church.

Safley and his church are taking what some might see as a surprising step. But, for Safley, it’s a necessary one that makes sense. They are teaming up with local health professionals, first responders, and other places of worship to be part of the solution.

“So, we need to not bury our head in the sand, and we need to confront it head-on, and do what we can,” Safley said.

That includes the plan to provide Narcan, which is a drug that reverses an opioid overdose. They’re also exploring the possibility of a needle exchange. The North Carolina Council of Churches is working with Louisburg United Methodist and other churches across the state to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis.

Safley said there has been resistance from some faith leaders. However, he’s hopeful that places of worship can also be places to heal.

“That’s one of the main things that we in the faith community can do is to get someone to the point that they want help. Because it doesn’t do any good to provide help if they don’t want it. We need to approach this like we do cancer or any other kind of disease. We are about trying to provide wholeness and healing,” Safley added.

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