State Partners With Churches to Help Addicts


On Tuesday afternoon, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services celebrated the launch of its new Recovery Church initiative at St. John's United Methodist Church in Memphis.

The Recovery Church program offers resources to faith-based organizations that provide free-to-the-public services for people dealing with substance abuse. The state's program will help connect churches that offer recovery programs.

"We're linking them together to share resources," said Monty Burks, director of special projects for the Division of Substance Abuse Services. "Some smaller churches don't have resources, but other big churches, like High Point Church or Bellevue Baptist, have huge resources. So we say, well, you do this, and they can do that, but they can't do this, and we partner them together."

The initiative officially launched in April, but the kick-off was held in Memphis this week. Although the program runs statewide, Memphis was chosen for the launch because of its large number of churches. The Greater Memphis Metro area is home to more than 2,000 church communities.

At Tuesday's meeting, 21 Memphis faith-based organizations were recognized for their participation in the new program. 

"Addiction is more than just bad choices. It's insidious in what's going on in our in our schools, and our communities, and our churches. And what we've been doing is not working," said Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Douglas Varney. 

Varney told those gathered at St. John's that programs offered in churches are the answer to solving the state's substance abuse problems.

Burks said they're looking for more churches to sign on to the program. Any faith leaders interested in getting involved can reach Burks at 615-770-1783 or email him here.

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