Jewish Beliefs On Drug And Alcohol Addiction And Rehab
As is the case with members of all faiths, many adherents of the Jewish religion suffer from addiction. Unfortunately, the vast majority will never seek treatment, despite the fact that it is much more likely to lead to long-term sobriety. Luckily, there are many Jewish drug and alcohol rehab options available, along with many non-Jewish options that provide quality care.
What Is Judaism?
Judaism is a religion that began at least 4,000 years ago in the Middle East. The holy book of Judaism, called the Torah, explores laws for practicing Jews to practice and honor the will of God. Abraham is a central figure in the Jewish faith, and his grandson Jacob was called Israel. The descendants of Israel were called the Israelites. The Torah includes the 10 Commandments. There is another sacred book called the Tehakh, which contains ancient writings as well as the Talmud. Presently, there are 14 to 15 million practitioners of Judaism globally, with 80% living in either Israel or the USA.
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Jewish Attitudes On Addiction
There is a stigma against addiction in the Jewish community. Some of this stems from guilt and shame surrounding substance abuse some adherents of Judaism may cast on others. This can be especially painful, because feelings of shame and guilt are often experienced deeply by individuals with substance use disorders.
Due to traditional religious values, some Jewish people may be taken by surprise upon learning of drug or alcohol abuse in their community. Some people believe there are no mental disabilities or substance abuse in this community. The stereotype includes the “nice Jewish boy or girl who doesn’t do drugs” as well as the disconnection of those who have become lost in addiction.
Unfortunately, an increase of Jewish-related substance abuse cases has caused many Jewish leaders to take interest in addressing the issue. Many are hoping this encourages Jewish individuals suffering with substance use disorders to take action and get the help they need, knowing there is support in their community.
The guilt of substance abuse and the shame others place on members in their community is changing, however. In particular, many Jewish individuals are impacted by the devastating effects of Opioids and are getting help. Treatment centers have supported this by including Jewish-focused 12-Step principles to treat patients.
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Jewish Addiction Statistics
A survey indicated 41.2% of Jewish individuals knew someone who currently battled substance abuse in their community. Additionally, 23.5% of respondents had a family history of drug or alcohol abuse. The many myths surrounding the lack of Jewish people battling chemical dependencies can hurt the community. Another source found that Tranquilizer dependencies were common in the elder Jewish community, as well as Sedative and Painkiller dependences.
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Jewish 12-Step Programs
12-Step programs focus on the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical effects of substance abuse or chemical dependencies. They provide participants with a sense of fellowship and a support network as well as advice, companionship, and many other benefits. Many in recovery find 12-Step programs and other support groups vital to their recovery and continued sobriety.
Many of the 12 Steps encourage awareness of the self and the impact of substance abuse on others. Individuals take personal inventory over their actions, and lastly, the relationship with God. The Jewish 12 Steps are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over (fill in the blank)—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove our shortcomings.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics/drug addicts/compulsive overeaters/compulsive gamblers etc… and to practice these principles in all our efforts.
There is also 7-step prayers, known as the Modeh Ani, which is encouraged to repeat daily to strength spiritual and personal discipline.
If you are looking for a Jewish-focused support group, there are Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons, and Significant Others (JACS) chapters throughout the country.
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Treatment centers are becoming increasingly sensitive to all types of religions. As a way to honor the diversity of individuals needing treatment, some centers have included treatments specifically intended for Jewish people. Some of these methods would take into account the dietary restrictions and communal accommodations that are needed. In addition to these needed approaches, 12-Step programs and AA meetings with Jewish themes are available. Taking the first step is the bravest action you can take to heal, and the time is now. Contact a treatment provider and find out more.
Ashish Bhatt, MD, MRO
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Learn about Dr. Ashish Bhatt
Dr. Bhatt has been Addiction Center's Medical Content Director for more than three years, providing his expertise to ensure quality and accuracy.
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Expert in adult and child psychiatry
Over 20 years of professional experience