By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A local church is doing its part to curb the drug epidemic that’s affecting the region.

Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church dedicated part of service Sunday to teach parishioners about the opioid epidemic.

The church used part of its service to spread the word about reducing overdose deaths. The problem of addiction hits close to home for the Park Avenue church.

“There are a number of our own parishioners who have struggled with drug addiction and are receiving different kinds of support and treatment,” Pastor Andrew Foster Connors said.

After service, the church handed out pouches that to safely dispose of old prescription medications.

The Baltimore health commissioner said 700 people died from overdoses in Baltimore in 2017, and she demonstrated how to use naloxone to reverse a potentially deadly overdose.

“Baltimore has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic and we have to do everything that we can to fight it together,” Dr. Leana Wen said.

Officials believe that reducing the drug crisis could also have a direct impact on crime in the city, and law enforcement agrees.

Last week, police said a takedown of a suspected drug distribution ring in South Baltimore could reduce violence. Earlier in March, the Gov. Larry Hogan went to Capitol Hill to discuss a crackdown on mail-order drugs.

“We gotta do what we can in the local level in addiction, but the federal government has got to step up, keeping it from coming into the country,” Gov. Hogan said.

From Capitol Hill to a Baltimore church, the goal is the same.

“I hope we will all feel a little better about dealing with people and not being stigmatized by this disease, and being encouraged to know that we can do something,” organizer Dr. Lynda Burton said.

All month long, the church has organized events as it attempts to reduce the effects of the opioid crisis.

The pastor says his congregation will also put pressure on city leaders if they do not provide enough resources to fight the drug epidemic.

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