Liberty University tackles the opioid epidemic

Published: Nov. 2, 2019 at 6:12 PM EDT
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Community members discussed ways to combat the opioid crisis Saturday at Liberty University. The American Association of Christian Counselors partnered with the school for this one-day symposium.

Richard Amato has spoken out against opioid addiction, even before his own battle with drugs.

"I could become addicted to prescription drugs, even after speaking on addiction to millions of kids at schools, then anybody could," Amato, an Ambassador for Mental Health and Addiction for the American Association of Christian Counselors, said.

He was eventually hospitalized and after his recovery, he made it his mission to continue speaking out.

"My hope from the bottom of my heart, is that all of us in this country, whether we have faith, or are unbelievers, will realize, almost 200 of our citizens are dying everyday," Amato said.

That's why he joined a panel Saturday at Liberty University to share his story and open up a dialogue on beating the epidemic.

"All of us together, hopefully if we become inseparable, we can become invincible and win this war and stop this plague," Amato added.

The panel was part of the university's one-day Opioid Addiction Crisis Symposium for Christian ministry leaders, mental health providers, and concerned family members.

"Most people in attendance have been personally affected in some way, I lost friends, a hunting partner it's affecting everyone," David Jenkins, a Professor in the Department of Counselor Education and Family Studies at Liberty University, said.

Speakers at the symposium addressed how to identify an opioid addiction, support family members, and advocate for pain management as an alternative to opioid prescriptions.

"The first step to healing is the word 'we,'" Amato said.

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