2021: Year of Years
I’m not sure what’s been rougher, 2020 or 2021. For some the answer is that both were equally horrible. It can be difficult to give thanks one day a year, let alone every day, but I highly recommend it.
Our banquet team is in the early stages of preparation for our annual fundraising banquet set for April 9. We are excited about the life changing stories, laughter, and celebrating the past two years of ministry. We will be introducing Jay Penton, our first full time Regional Field Director for the southern states. Jay and his bride Dana live in Prattville, Alabama, where Jay serves as a State Trooper. They will join our team after Jay retires this winter and raises his support. There are a lot of moving parts with this first out-of-state hire, so please pray.
In 2012 we launched this ministry out of a coffee shop in my hometown of McMinnville, Oregon. As things open, we will be giving back to the town we love in the Arena Gathering, which was growing rapidly last year but we were compelled to shut it down due to COVID. Pray for wisdom, leaders, and a location as we launch what we believe will be the largest weekly gathering for men in the history of our county.
Social Distancing, Isolation, and Addiction
We have been on varying levels of shutdown in the USA due to COVID-19 since March, and the weight of these shutdowns is not only weighing on our economy and the education of our children but for countless men, it has resulted in domestic abuse and addiction relapse. At some point, the government must weigh the cost of countless lives lost in the wake of these shutdowns.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, spikes in drug and alcohol abuse use have been recorded since March. In late April/early May, the Addiction Policy Forum (APF) conducted a survey of 1,079 people with addictions nationwide on how they were being impacted by the pandemic. Twenty percent of the respondents reported that their own or a family member’s substance use had increased since the social isolation was put in place.
Three-quarters of the APF survey respondents reported emotional changes since the beginning of the pandemic, especially increased worry (62%), sadness (51%), fear (51%), and loneliness (42%). These emotions increase the risk for relapse and unfortunately circumstances since the pandemic has made peer support, for instance in 12-step meetings and similar groups, much more difficult.
An analysis of a nationwide sample of 500,000 urine drug test results conducted by Millenium Health also showed steep increases for cocaine (10% increase), heroin (13% increase), methamphetamine (20% increase), and non-prescribed fentanyl (32% increase).