Interfaith Matters
Interfaith Matters
Feb 11, 2020
People Who Use Drugs are Beloved: Faith, the Overdose Crisis, and Movements for Healing & Justice
Play • 41 min

Pictured (l. to r.): Rev. Dr. Luis Barrios, Minister Erica Poellot, & author Jimmie Briggs

We launch season five of the “Interfaith Matters” podcast with a critical conversation about faith community responses to the opioid/overdose crisis in New York City, where in 2018, there were 1,444 unintentional overdose deaths, of which 80% involved opioids. Rates of overdose have increased in the Bronx, specifically the South Bronx, and among Manhattan and Staten Island residents as well.

Note that everyone interested in this topic is invited to our February 24 conference "Faithful Responses to the Overdose Crisis" - see below.

For people of faith, this overdose crisis is a spiritual and moral crisis too, as racism, misogyny and class discrimination are recognized as factors that not only contribute to a person's exposure to and involvement with drugs, but are impacting their ability to access help.

Our guests in this conversation are three New Yorkers who are experts on the subject:

  • Rev. Dr. Luis Barrios, of Holyrood Episcopal Church – Iglesia Santa Cruz in Harlem Heights
  • Minister Erica Poellot, Harm Reduction Coalition Director of Faith and Community Partnerships
  • Jimmie Briggs, a journalist who has written extensively on the topic



If you are interested in learning more about this issue, we invite you to attend a day-long retreat for religious and civic leaders on February 24 called Faithful Responses to the Overdose Crisis: Building Congregations and Communities of Care. Drawing on the path breaking work of the Harm Reduction Coalition’s Faith in Harm Reduction program, the retreat will help to build a multifaith healing justice movement, through education, advocacy, and spiritual care centered on the dignity and divinity of all New Yorkers – including those who use drugs. 





Podcast Questions? Comments?

Have a question for our guests or comment on our podcast series? Would you like to suggest a guest or topic for a future podcast episode? Please feel free to contact us at

This episode of “Interfaith Matters” is hosted by co-producer AJ DeBonis, engineered and edited by co-producer Michelle Polton-Simon, and executive produced by Kevin Childress. 

Learn more about the podcast team on our website.

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