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'The Church Has Got to Be Filled with Compassion': How Isaiah House Became a Place of Healing

Isaiah House offers help with recovery from addiction (Image: CBN News)
Isaiah House offers help with recovery from addiction (Image: CBN News)

CHAPLIN, Kentucky - The cost of the opioid epidemic in America is taking its toll on the economy. The latest figures from the White House show that opioid overdose, misuse, and addiction cost more than $2.5 trillion between 2015 and 2018.

But the human cost is even more terrible with an estimated 200,000 lives lost in the past decade. CBN News visited one Christian facility that's fighting to lower those numbers.

Folks here at Isaiah House are getting a new outlook on life, discovering careers, and encountering the gospel.

Like towns across the country, the opioid epidemic swept through central Kentucky, claiming the lives of people everywhere, from the coal mines to the church house.

"I was an all-American kid. Grew up in church even," says Jason Roop.

But it didn't last. Roop says his teenage years led him to a world of drug use. "I'd be arrested 18 times, overdose four times, raided by the police twice and been to a homeless shelter," he recalls.

Djuana Reed saw her son Riley as an all-American kid, too. It took only one LSD trip to change it all.

"Choir kid. Band kid. Known for his Hawaiian shirts and his purple vans," Reed recalls. "It was his birthday then. He died on his birthday."

Mark Lapalme, founder of Isaiah House, says, "I know that our God is a God of multiple chances, but we do know too that 72,000 people lost their lives last year to addiction."

Lapalme began Isaiah House, an award-winning treatment facility, to bring people like Reed and Roop together, eager to rescue Kentuckians from the grip of addiction.
With four state facilities, offering long and short term options, Isaiah House isn't your typical recovery center.

Its patients can get mental health treatment, art therapy and recreational activities, plus in-house employment opportunities like welding and construction.  

"We have a construction company that we started and we can do some basics like framing and things like that. We have a landscaping company. We mow 600 acres a week. But welding is another step up, it teaches them a trade that's going to pay them well," Lapalme said.

They are also introduced to and bathed in the gospel. During our visit, we witnessed five baptisms.

Lapalme, a recovering addict himself, says the church is moving forward when it comes to addiction, but much work lies ahead.

"The church has got to be filled with compassion," he said, choking back tears. "These people... I was listening to Jason's story. And it made me tear up. He might have been lost. And that would have been our loss. And we can't afford for that to happen."

Roop, now a pastor himself, agrees. "Addiction, it comes to our church doors," he said. "And it thrives in denial and thrives in secrecy and it thrives in isolation."

His success, along with Reed's loss, helps keep the team here motivated and pushing patients toward recovery.

"You're going to get this thing. You're going to get out of here. You're gonna make it. Don't quit," Lapalme said.

One hug, one story, one day at a time.


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