AC churches come together to fight addiction

Tuesday night, members of the Anderson County faith community came together in Rocky Top to have a discussion on how to harness the power from the pews of our churches to fight the substance abuse crisis.

Hosted by Pastor Wayne Phillips and Main Street Baptist Church, the event drew over 60 people.

Presenting were Dr. Monty Burks, Director of Faith-Based Initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Stephanie Strutner, Executive Director of Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) of Anderson County; Project Lifeline Coordinators Jeremy Goodman and Nathan Payne; and Dr. Stephen Loyd, Medical Director for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Those in attendance heard one consistent message: the role of the faith community in prevention, treatment, and recovery is integral to long-term success and each church plays a vital role. Dr. Burks said for every person positioned for needing treatment and recovery support in Tennessee, there are 8.2 congregation members. “Fellowship is what we’re missing,” he said. “Every time we help someone, it plants a seed for them to help someone else. We can’t wait until tomorrow…we are supposed to uplift people. That’s our duty as humanity.”

Dr. Loyd explained the physiological process of addiction and explained how biology (genetics), adverse childhood (or life) experiences, and social availability of drugs play a role in one’s propensity for addiction.

The event was sponsored by Project AWARE of Anderson County and agencies were on hand to provide resources to attendees, including Project AWARE, the Anderson County Health Department, and ASAP of Anderson County.

For more information about how your church can become a recovery-friendly congregation, or for resources on how to start the conversation in your place of worship, contact ASAP of Anderson County at 865-457-3007 or

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