Look up collateral damage in the dictionary and here is the definition you’ll find:
“Any death, injury, or other damage inflicted that is an incidental result of an activity. Originally coined by military operations, it is now also used in non-military contexts.”
So what does collateral damage have to do with drug addiction.
A good answer comes from a Furman University student named Sam Fowler who recently produced a “Ted Talk” video about the impact of addiction on spouses and families.
“Remember,” she said. “The addict is numb. He or she does not know what it is going on. But the family is not numb. And addiction is often more dangerous to family members than it is to the addict.”
Fowler’s video will kick off a program next week aimed at the families of addicts as well as church pastors, lay leaders, and those who simply want to know more about the impact of addiction on families.
“Collateral Damage,” presented by Faith Fighting Addiction, a program of the Gaston Controlled Substances Coalition, will be held at 7 pm on Tuesday, April 5, in the Gaston County Courthouse.
Two organizers of the events, David Julen, pastor of First Baptist Church of Cramerton, and Joe Bell, pastor of the Eastside Church of the Nazarene in Gastonia, sat down with me to discuss the program and why they think it is important.
“The extended family of a person suffering from opioid or other addictions is under tremendous strain,” Julen said. “The energy it takes to present a normal face to the world can be exhausting for the family.
“Constant fear of the next crisis causes anxiety to ripple through the family system,” he continued. “Siblings can feel neglected or that their own life struggles are less important because everything seems small in comparison.”
Following the video, a panel of four speakers will discuss the issues raised in it and take questions from the audience.
- Rodney Alexander, the Celebrate Recovery pastor of Catawba Heights Baptist Church in Belmont.
- Amber Delvechio of Olive Branch Ministries, which seeks to provide aid to addicts and their families.
- Sam Warner, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Belmont.
- And David Oaks, of the Coldwater Counseling Group.
In addition, the physical gathering in the Courthouse, “Collateral Damage” will also be broadcast on Facebook Live and on the Gaston County government channel.
“There are so many issues at work here,” Bell said. “Friends and even clergy often don’t know what kind of help to offer. The family may be trying to keep things secret. Toxic emotions can simply build up.”
Both Julen and Bell assert that addiction can strike any family, regardless of race, economic class, or social position.
“We need to go beyond judgment,” said Julen. “We need to acknowledge solidarity with the sinner, and to accept the truth that, ‘There is but for the grace of God go I.'”
Pre-registration for the event is encouraged at collateral-damage.eventbrite.com, but is not required.
“Everyone will be welcome,” Bell said. “Clergy, lay people, families, those who believe in God and those who don’t believe in God, people who are hurting and people who want to help.”
Bill Poteat may be reached at 828-448-0195 or email@example.com.