In the face of an opioid epidemic that continues to spiral out of control, and drug overdose fatalities increasing across the globe, Scientology Churches take action, because drug education is more vital now than ever before.
More than 109,000 Americans died of drug overdose in the 12-month period ending January 2023. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports fentanyl-related fatalities among children and teens increased more than 30-fold between 2013 and 2021. And, although the opioid epidemic has created the most severe impact in the U.S. and Canada, there is hardly a country on Earth not suffering from the harmful effect of drugs. But there are simple actions anyone can take to help save lives, according to Foundation for a Drug-Free World, the drug education and prevention campaign the Church of Scientology supports.
While the numbers are bleak, the effect of drug overdose on the families and friends of the victims can never be expressed by a statistic.
“When there’s death involved, that’s forever,” says Lance Dyer whose son Dakota took his life after one hit of a synthetic cannabinoid. “The pain, the hurt, the anguish to your parents, your friends, your loved ones—the ramifications of your choices go way past you getting high,” he says in an episode of Voices for Humanity on the new season of the Scientology Network.
Like thousands of individuals and groups internationally, Dyer adopted the Truth About Drugs campaign of Foundation for a Drug-Free World because when he visits schools to talk to kids about drugs using these materials, the fact-based information in the booklets and videos creates impact and helps them reevaluate their ideas and make the firm decision not to take drugs.
To bring community leaders together to tackle this urgent issue, Scientology Churches are marking International Overdose Awareness Day this weekend with conferences, drug education training, and drug prevention and awareness initiatives. And they are screening episodes of Voices for Humanity to show how effective these materials are and how easy it is to reach kids with the truth.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, “Prevention strategies based on scientific evidence working with families, schools, and communities can ensure that children and youth, especially the most marginalized and poor, grow and stay healthy and safe into adulthood and old age. For every dollar spent on prevention, at least ten can be saved in future health, social and crime costs.”
Budget cuts and post-pandemic recession have made it even harder to fund drug education and prevention than before. But thanks to the support of Scientology Churches and Scientologists, Drug-Free World makes these materials available free of charge to anyone wishing to use them to educate themselves, their families, friends and communities about drugs.
When Julieta Santagostina learned about Drug-Free World she helped organize a protest that ended up getting local drug houses shut down. “But there was a reason that drugs were around. There was demand for drugs,” she says. And there is demand because people, especially children, are not well informed. “People take advantage of these kids,” she says in her episode of Voices for Humanity that shows how Santagostina soon became president of Drug-Free World Florida, which is changing the entire dynamic on this issue across her state.
In his episode of Voices for Humanity, Drug-Free World Italy Executive Director Oreste Depaoli recalls how older boys introduced him to using drugs when he was 12. He soon became an addict and at 19, he nearly died of an overdose. “More and more people are dying of drug overdose in Italy every year,” says Depaoli who points out that where there are drugs, there are guns, crime and death. “If people knew what drugs really lead to, they could choose not to take them,” he says.
Learn more about how simple it is to make a difference. Watch Voices for Humanity on the Scientology Network.
Since launching in 2018 with an introduction by Scientology ecclesiastical leader Mr. David Miscavige, the Scientology Network has been viewed in over 240 countries and territories in 17 languages. Satisfying the curiosity of people about the Scientology religion and Founder L. Ron Hubbard, the network takes viewers across six continents, spotlighting the everyday lives of Scientologists, showing the Church as a global organization, and presenting its social betterment programs that have touched the lives of millions worldwide. The network also showcases documentaries by independent filmmakers who represent a cross-section of cultures and faiths, but share a common purpose of uplifting communities.
Broadcast from Scientology Media Productions, the Church’s global media center in Los Angeles, the Scientology Network is available on DIRECTV Channel 320, DIRECTV STREAM, AT&T U-verse and can be streamed at Scientology.tv, on mobile apps and via the Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV platforms.