Spiritual Voids Being Filled by Deadly Drugs

Statistically speaking, eight people die every day in New York due to a drug overdose. 

While prescription opioids and heroin usually make the headlines, there is another drug that has seemingly crept up on the mainstream out of nowhere despite a more than 600% spike in deaths since 2015 — fentanyl. 

The most recent record-breaking seizures by law enforcement show there is a growing demand that has the city and country bordering on a new epidemic. Or, maybe we’re already there. 

The scourge of fentanyl that is sweeping through New York City has been taking lives with overdoses at a rate that doubles that of heroin and prescription drugs combined. 

The scariest statistic attributed to fentanyl abuse is that a New Yorker is overdosing every three hours, with fentanyl accounting for more than 80% of those deaths. 

Recently, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed legislation aimed at reducing fatal overdoses by providing free naloxone kits to nightlife establishments to administer in the case of an opioid overdose. 

This summer, New York University’s Silver School of Social Work professors Jennifer Manuel and Lance Keene got a New York City grant to help educate residents who use drugs about the risks of fentanyl, which is approximately 50 times stronger than heroin. 

Because fentanyl is sold interchangeably with heroin, mixed with other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, and pressed into counterfeit pills, the two professors are working with New York City’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene to distribute free fentanyl test strips, which detect the presence of the potent opioid in a drug after the drug is diluted. The latest numbers compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic shutdown greatly accelerated drug overdoses, including fentanyl. 

“The recent increase in drug overdose mortality began in 2019 and continues into 2020,” the report stated. “The increases in drug overdose deaths appear to have accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The agency stated fentanyl overdoses rose 21.1% from March 2020 to May 2020. 

Many people in society who feel lost and are trying to fill a void of some kind turn to drugs. Fentanyl is yet another avenue that seems to have people finding a new high to fill that void. 

Moving away from faith and God has a significant impact. 

The National Institutes of Health’s website cites a seminal two-year study by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University that found that “teens who did not consider religious beliefs important were almost three times more likely to smoke, five times more likely to binge on alcohol, and almost eight times more likely to use marijuana compared with the teens who strongly appreciated the significance of religion in their daily lives.” 

The study also found that, compared with the teens who attended religious services at least weekly, the teens who never attended services were twice more likely to drink, over twice more likely to smoke, over three times more likely to use marijuana or binge on alcohol, and four times more likely to use illicit drugs. 

Let us pray for those suffering from the drug epidemic and that maybe they can instead find God as a way to fill whatever emptiness they feel.