The Church is finding more ease in discussing substance use and abuse – Burke County is not alone

This piece (<< link) published in the Desert News National’s Faith section titled Episcopal church fighting alcohol addiction, and they’re not alone highlights the emerging discussions happening around disorders of alcoholism and substance use — even among clergy.

While church leadership are not always aware of the problems in their own congregation due to the fact that “only about 20 percent” of adults seek any treatment for alcohol use disorder, it’s known that nearly one-third of adults in the United States have at some time in their lives had a problem with alcohol.

Through our local coalition, Burke Substance Abuse Network, we are working to dispel myths around substance use in our community. In recent conversations with faith leaders, many have admitted to me that they simply don’t see a lot of problems in their own congregations. Add this to the fact that Burke County has twice the state average of illicit drug overdoses and the fact that underage drinking and prescription pill use remain a large problem according to arrest reports and youth surveys, and we see the discrepancy between what people are “seeing” and what the real story is.

We are grateful for the work that BSAN’s faith partners have put into forming our local coalition, and for the great strides Sheriff Steve Whisenant has made taking the message into church after church. And there is more work to be done.

We invite all faith leaders to attend Burke Substance Abuse Network’s monthly meetings, held the last Friday of each month for a free breakfast at 7:30am at the Morganton Community House. For information about BSAN programming, our county’s youth prevention initiatives, and our prescription medication abuse initiatives, contact me at and I will direct you to the right information and BSAN partner.


Rhonda Cook / Coordinator, BSAN Underage Drinking Initiative

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