Wednesday, August 01, 2018

What I Did on my Summer Vaca.... General Convention: Responding to the Opioid Crisis 2

I wanted to give an update on my earlier post from before General Convention. Specifically, I wanted to update readers on C037 Responding to the Opioid Crisis.

As most of my readers know, each resolution addressed at General Convention requires public testimony to the designated legislative committee. As I noted in my earlier post, I was on Legislative Committee 8 Social Justice and United States Policy, and it was our committee that addressed resolution C037.

In the testimony we heard moving testimony about the impact of the opioid crisis on individuals and families, and about how the Church might be engaged. We also heard another issue addressed. We heard about the problems of patients with chronic conditions and especially chronic pain whose access to appropriate medications was being affected by legislative and regulatory responses to the opioid crisis. In fact, this is an issue I'm also aware of. The Center for Practical Bioethics, one of our great resources in Kansas City, has had among its programs the PAINS Project. (That project has recently transferred to the Academy of Integrative Pain Management [AIPM].)

It is important to realize both concerns are accurate. There is a crisis in the United States, and especially in more economically distressed populations, in addiction to opioid drugs; and while that has turned in the last year or two from abuse primarily of prescription drugs to problems with heroin and imported synthetic fentanyl, control and proper use of the prescription drugs is important. There is also a crisis of poorly managed chronic pain, and patients who need the prescription drugs, and sometimes in unusual dosages, not only to just manage from day to day but to continue to function, to work, to participate in life.

So, when you look at the link above to the finalized language of C037, you'll see we addressed both. We retained concern about the opioid crisis, and continued the request for a task force in the Church to address it. We also acknowledged the proper uses for those drugs and called on the Church to understand and to advocate for those who appropriately need them. Really, I think we did a pretty good job of recognizing both problems, and in speaking to the Episcopal Church about the two needs.

Take a look at the final resolution. Consider how both problems are appearing in your own community, even in your own congregation. Recognize as well that sometimes that's how resolutions get "perfected:" testimony changes how your Deputies and Bishops understand an issue, and how we see God's call to the Church.