By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
There’s a huge opioid epidemic happening in the United States, and in inner cities like New Bedford, this epidemic is even more dangerous. In fact, up to six people die each day in New Bedford of accidental drug overdoses, according to New Bedford Guide.
A couple in Dartmouth are working to solve this problem. Mathew and Jackie Vangel started the faith-based non-profit called “Regain: Drug Addiction Family Support Group” about a year ago, and it has been helping the addicted since its launch. The couple hold confidential support meetings for addicted people in Dartmouth and Mattapoisett, hand out the 12-step “Life Recovery Bible” to strangers, and hold Narcan trainings, according to Southcoast Today.
Jackie Vangel recently had a family member pass due to an opioid addiction that she wasn’t even aware of. Instances like this make the couple fully aware of the issue, and that addiction can happen to anyone. Southcoast Today also notes that though the non-profit is faith based, anyone is welcome to come to their meetings.
Some may have a negative opinion on the couple’s non-profit, either because it is Christian or that it attempts to heal the addicted. Many people have an issue with the Christian faith because of its ideologies, or simply believe that Christians try to shove their beliefs down other’s throats.
Though I understand this frustration, the Vangels clearly want to help people, regardless of their situation. The fact that the couple opens up their meetings and services to everyone shows that although they are Christian and run a faith-based non-profit, they are open-minded and are willing to help the suffering simply because of their own deep compassion.
Another criticism people may have is the fact that this non-profit is attempting to heal the addicted through means other than incarceration. Often, people feel that those addicted should go to jail for their drug crimes, rather than be treated through rehab or therapy. Though I understand these people’s opinions on the issue, the fact of the matter is jail time doesn’t work.
Those who end up in jail for drug offenses continue to go back after they have been released. This is a vicious cycle for many addicted people, and there must be something to break this cycle once and for all. Rehab centers and non-profits for addiction are necessary in order to stop this epidemic, and great people like the Vangels is what will help heal our communities.
Along with the Vangel’s work in our local community, there is also a new opioid center being built in Boston. There was much controversy surrounding the opioid center, since the money was donated, and according to opponents, the money could have been used for a more “important” cause.
I can understand people’s anger in regards to addiction, especially if it has affected their own families. I myself have been a supporter of drug users going to jail because of my familial ties to addiction. But the fact of the matter is, addiction is a disease, and the only way to cure it is through rehab and therapy. If as a community we want to stop this epidemic that takes lives every day, then we must be committed to providing services to the addicted rather than throwing them in jail just so they can start using again.
As a community, we are lucky to have caring people like Mathew and Jackie Vangel. There is sure to be controversy surrounding the couple and their non-profit, but it’s clear that the couple is committed to helping those struggling regardless of religion, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. If you are interested in learning more about this non-profit, visit their website.