Wareham church offers open minds, open hearts for addiction sufferers
An open mind and an open heart - it’s the best way to show support, says Church of the Good Shepherd Pastor Dan Bernier.
Bernier and his parishioners are always trying to identify those people who are in need of kindness, compassion and understanding. Looking into the community, they saw a growing, highly misunderstood epidemic: addiction.
“Addicts are stigmatized,” said Bernier. “There’s so little understanding. We need to make people more aware of the people who are lost in it. People need to know what addiction is, and it’s not a moral thing. Addicts are suffering an illness. It’s a disease which some people are unfortunately more susceptible to, but everyone is susceptible to something.”
Bernier worries just as much about another group of people: the families of addicts. He explains that while there is a focus on addicts themselves, families often suffer just as much, without any awareness of what they’re going through.
“We know it’s an issue here,” said Bernier. “I feel that sometimes people bury their head in the sand a bit, because addiction is just so overwhelming. People don’t know what to do, what to look for - they don’t really know much at all.”
That’s why the church offered Addiction Awareness Week, held at the church's 74 High St. address. The event was meant to give addicts and families support and offer resources which may act as a lifeline for anybody touched by addiction.
Addiction Awareness Week kicked off at Church of the Good Shepherd Sunday Services March 19. The week continued Friday, March 24 with a showing of “Heroin: Cape Cod USA”, a sobering documentary which follows several eastern-Massachusetts addicts and their families. The week will end on Sunday, March 26, with an addiction and recovery forum. Professionals from several recovery centers will be on hand to explain what signs of addiction to look for as well as treatment options. Bernier is of the understanding that a few recovering addicts may also be in attendance to speak of their journey as well.
This is the first time that Addiction Awareness Week has been offered, and Bernier isn’t quite sure where it will go, explaining that it will probably unfold from the things spoken of at the film screening and forum. He plans to make Addiction Awareness Week a yearly event. The forum and film screening are open to the entire community. “It takes courage to lift your head up, and look at the facts of addiction,” Bernier said, “but this is the beginning of helping."