Gospel Singer Says Prescription Drug Abuse ‘Epidemic’ In The Church

According to the CDC, prescription painkiller abuse kills more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined. It’s a problem of epidemic proportions for the entire country, and although we may like to think otherwise, gospel singer and ex-addict Joseph Habedank says the church is far from immune. In an interview with ChristianPost.com, he talks about his addiction, recovery, the issues with prescription drugs in the church and forgiveness for our sins.

Prescription Drug Abuse In The U.S.

Prescription drug abuse is an incredibly serious problem in the U.S., with prescription painkiller overdose deaths having more than tripled since 1990. Three out of every four prescription drug overdoses involve painkillers like hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and fentanyl (Fentora, Duragesic), and their sale has increased by 300 percent since 1999.

In 2010, more than 12 million Americans reported using prescription painkillers non-medically. These are opioid medicines (chemically related to heroin), but other types of prescription meds also have a role to play, such as benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium and amphetamine-like drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin.

Gospel Singer, Habedank’s Story

Overcoming Prescription Drug Abuse in Church - ChristianDrugRehab.comJoseph Habedank is a Dove Award-nominated singer who’s performed alongside the “singing cop” Bryan Walker (from season nine of “American Idol”) in the gospel group The Perrys. He spoke to ChristianPost.com in support of his new solo album, “Welcome Home,” talking about the addiction that nearly cost him both his music career and his marriage.

Taking inspiration from the experience and God’s capacity for forgiveness, he hopes to tackle the problem of prescription drug abuse in the church through his album and his personal story. He is reaching out to other Christians who are struggling in silence with the problem.

Like many Americans, Habedank first took prescription painkillers for a legitimate reason; he suffered from a throat ulcer in 2008. But when the drug first entered his system, he remembers that he felt like “this is the answer to every single problem that I have in life.” It made him outgoing where he had once been an introvert, and although he wasn’t a continuous user immediately, by 2010 he says he was hooked.

He got off the road that year, and tried to kick his addiction without help. It worked for a few months, but he didn’t learn the things he needed to in order to truly tackle the addiction, so his sobriety was short-lived.

It wasn’t until 2013 that he made a real change. He was confronted by the other artists he was singing with, who said they’d been through this before and they’d already given him all the chances they could. He told them he wanted to get help, and he resigned from the group and checked into a treatment facility in Nashville.

He was a resident for a month, learning the lessons he needed and truly began to get better. It put strain on his marriage—he was getting clean just around the time of his wedding—but his wife stuck by him as he got sober. Since then, he’s been dedicated to helping people going through the same thing.

Prescription Drug Abuse In The Church

Habedank points out that with prescription drug abuse being such a huge problem across the country, it should only be expected that it’s an issue in the church, too. But he has more direct experience than most. He says that he got his meds from people in the church who were either dealing them or were addicted themselves.

He says it’s “definitely, definitely” a problem in the church, but also says he understands and doesn’t want to be judgmental. “I know how hard it is (to) quit, how hard it is to finally humble yourself and say ‘you know what, I need help, I got to break these chains, but I can’t do it by myself.’ ”

Recovery From Prescription Drug Abuse, God And Forgiveness

When asked what he’s learned about God from the recovery process, he answered, “The biggest thing that I learned is that God is not this mean judge who sits on His throne and judges everyone for every sin they’ve ever committed. The truth of that matter is there is no condemnation in [Jesus Christ].”

His sponsor told him that Jesus still loved him when he was using, but he’s crazy about him now that he’s getting clean, and that struck a chord with Habedank. He talks about how God is forgiving, and while we shouldn’t take advantage of that fact, he points out that Jesus went to the cross to be the sacrificial lamb to pay for our sins.

“We didn’t make an altar just for Christians to come and worship Jesus. We made the altar for sinners to come and find redemption and peace, forgiveness and grace and mercy.”

Habedank made his mistakes, but he has now found his redemption. He says his album is a soundtrack for people who need forgiveness in their lives, and he’s realized that this covers pretty much everybody. He hopes his music will provide people with comfort, and remind them that God is ultimately forgiving.

The silent problem of prescription drug abuse in the church needs to be addressed, just as it does all across the country, and the only way to do that is to understand that it can affect anybody and isn’t something to be ashamed of. The more people are willing to step up and tell their stories, the more Christians around the country will get the help they need.

See The Signs Your Loved One May Be Abusing Prescription Drugs – Don’t Be Afraid To Seek The Help That They Deserve Now!