People from all walks of faith struggle with addiction and substance abuse. Many people within the Jewish religion battle addiction. Unfortunately, the vast majority do not seek help when they need it. Within the United States are many different faith-based rehabilitation programs, which include those for the Jewish faith. According to Pew Research, there are approximately 4.2 million American adults who say they are Jewish by religion, which represents 1.8% of the U.S. adult population. Unfortunately, there is a stigma against addiction in the Jewish community, and much of it stems from guilt and shame surrounding substance abuse within the Jewish religion. Experiencing this certainly prevents those struggling with addiction from reaching out for help.
According to an article titled Alcohol and Substance Use in the Jewish Community: A Pilot Study, a large portion of the North American Jewish community views alcoholism as an illness, has a strong fear of alcoholics, and blames individuals with addictions for their condition. Jewish rehabilitation centers are those that incorporate the Jewish faith into treatment. The religion of Judaism is considered by Jewish people to represent the covenant that God has established with the children of Israel. The practices within Judaism are designed to follow God’s laws and to connect the individual more closely with God. Unfortunately, some practicing Jews believe that people of their faith could not be affected by addiction and substance abuse.
Within the Jewish community, there is a tendency to deny or suppress the reality of addiction. However, more people in these communities have become increasingly aware of the problem of substance abuse. The problem is being notices not only among mainstream Jews but also among the most traditional Orthodox Jews. The rehabilitation and support systems for addiction within the Jewish community are designed to for people of the Jewish faith. Other groups within the community make an effort to educate community members about the reality of addiction, breaking through myths of misconceptions.
The Myths of Misconceptions and the Prevalence of Substance Abuse in the Jewish Community
According to the article mentioned above, talking about substance use in the Jewish community, Jewish individuals are likely to be impacted by addiction, similar to other ethnicities. However, there are numerous stereotypes that Jews cannot have addictions. Because of these stereotypes, Jews affected by addiction may find themselves with limited support options. Per the study, 41.2% of respondents reported knowing someone is currently struggling with addiction. Also, 23.5% of respondents reported having a family history of alcohol or drug abuse. When participants were asked what help they would ask for, 8.8% said they would contact a rabbi or priest, 2.9% would not seek help, and 5.9% sought private counseling.
For many generations within these communities, there has been a stigma against addiction. However, problems with alcohol, marijuana, and illegal drugs are known. Unfortunately, the stigma is based on some common misconceptions. Some of the misconceptions are the Jewish faith protects its followers against addiction, and observant Jews do not drink or abuse illicit drugs. Also, Jews who do abuse drugs or alcohol do so because they have been alienated from their religious heritage or because they have lost faith. Other misconceptions are addiction or substance abuse is a sign of moral failure, and those who abuse drugs or alcohol should feel g