Behind Closed Doors?

Jews and substance abuse.

To some, that’s an oxymoron.  To others — Jewish community leaders and addiction professionals alike — that denial is as much a problem as alcohol and drugs themselves.

Which is why on Wednesday, April 21, Jewish Family Service is co-sponsoring an interactive panel discussion:  “Behind Closed Doors?  Alcoholism & Addiction in the Jewish Community.”

The free event is set for 7 p.m. at the 420 Post Road West offices of Positive Directions, the non-profit, non-sectarian social service agency that is also sponsoring the event.

Panelists — including addiction experts; the coordinator of JFS’s J PASS program (Jewish Partnership for Addiction Support and Services), and a Jewish man in recovery — will discuss long-standing cultural and religious traditions surrounding the issue of substance abuse, and describe services available to the Jewish community.

“Alcohol, gambling and other addictions run under the radar in Jewish communities,” said Eve Moskowitz, JFS director of clinical services.

“Jews don’t have a place to address addictions, because they and their families think it’s not appropriate for them to have addictions.”

“AA is wonderful, but Jews don’t always go there,” added Marty Hauhuth, executive director of Positive Directions.  “A lot of meetings are held in churches, and they end with the Lord’s Prayer.”

JFS tried a similar program, with limited success.  So they’ve partnered with Positive Directions, in hopes of reaching a broader audience.

This is not Positive Directions’ 1st time addressing the issue.  They’ve worked with the UJA on a “Jews in Recovery” program, as well as with the JFS on a better-attended session at the Westport Y.

Is this the 1st religious group that has partnered with Positive Directions?  Hauhuth paused to think.

Temple Israel has always been very generous with funding for Positive Directions, and so have several churches,” she noted.  “And we get many referrals from religious groups, all the time.  We’re always open to any community group that wants to work with us.”

(For more information, call Positive Directions at 203-227-7644, or Eve Moskowitz at 203-921-4161.)

3 responses to “Behind Closed Doors?

  1. The Dude Abides

    As a former drunk and sober for 24 years, I applaud any and all efforts to find assistance. I am not so sure addiction is blind to any religion and found your comments surprising on the Jewish community. Certainly the disease has no borders as to race, gender or religion. I found little solace with AA and instead replaced a negative addiction with a positive one: running. Also, in retrospect, I think I would have found help earlier if more of my immediate circle of family and friends had simply said: Enough! In a indirect way, your blog entry is saying that in its revelation there is a problem. Thank you for that.

  2. I do know quite a few Jews in the AA, DA and GreySheeters Anonymous (food addition) rooms, and what this article didn’t point out is that they are totally anonymous … so anyone IN the rooms won’t mention outside the rooms “who was there”. That confidentiality is really important. Families don’t need to ever know if someone is going to one of the Anonymous programs.

    But, yes, lots of meetings are held in churches (mainly because the rent is cheap) and frequently meetings end with the Serenity Prayer to respect the feelings of Jewish members. Often Jewish friends either don’t participate in saying all of the Lord’s Prayer (which is fine with others) or they just let it go because their recovery is more important than some words that they know don’t pertain to them. Others have pointed out to me that it was a RABBI who first said the Lord’s Prayer, so I respect their way of putting it in perspective.

    I wish Positive Directions much success, but I hate to leave the impression that AA is not for Jewish alcoholics. We go wherever we can to find other people who don’t pick up their “drug of choice” one day at a time!

  3. Very cool article.