Open Book
Light Bulb

treating fentanyl addiction

On a visit to California, Marvin Olasky—author of The Tragedy of American Compassion—spent four days and nights at the Orange County Rescue Mission, a Christian outfit serving the local homeless. He left with stories from 40 men and women about years of cycling through drug deals, arrests, jail, probation, parole violations, homelessness and prison.

Andrew, 36, dropped out of high school and once had a job, but studying and working shifts at Jiffy Lube was boring. Meth was exciting. He enjoyed planning robberies and didn’t mind a few months every couple of years in jail: “Better drugs there than on the street.”

First time he came to the Mission he left after three days. …
February 2022 he realized, “Meth ain’t fun no more. I felt like a force was bringing me back.” After 18 months re-learning life, his caseworkers believe he’s ready to live an orderly life.

San Francisco’s drug-heavy Tenderloin district sorely needs such a Christian witness. Police don’t intervene as users place pink fentanyl powder on squares of aluminum foil. They flick on lighters underneath and inhale fumes through short tubes, then crouch on the sidewalk, catatonic.

Two government-funded “harm reduction” personnel paid six-figures come by pulling a Radio Flyer wagon, calling out: “Harm reduction! Need anything?” They bear gifts: foil, tubes, glass pipes, clean needles, granola bars, bottles of water, and naloxone to counteract overdoses.

The 40 people Mr Olasky talked with at the Rescue Mission weren’t hand-selected by mission officials. And they didn’t spin tales about how miserable their drug experiences were. Typically they reported the drug life exciting until it wasn’t.

William F. Buckley Jr described “boredom” as the “deadliest poison.” To former addicts, fentanyl—a leap that could end in death—made more sense than the grind of everyday life.

Some had gone through 30-day detox programs covered by insurance. They claim the monthlong cures benefit only the organizations operating them. The Rescue Mission insists on 18 months.

Two centuries ago
Scottish minister Thomas Chalmers preached about the “expulsive power of a new affection.” He claimed the way to expel addictions is to love something more than the addiction. That was a recurring theme in conversation with mission residents. They came because they were tired of drug life, although they weren’t sure what they wanted. Over months of Bible study, prayer and living in the mission community, they came to love Jesus.

August 2, 2023 Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced that the fentanyl-infested intersection around Massachusetts Ave. and Cass Blvd. was overrun by “drug trafficking, human trafficking and violence.” The Mayor declared the locale “so dangerous we are pulling our people out.”

Derrick Burton, the Rescue Mission’s chief ministry officer says, We have to be there. ~

Dan Nygaard