What effects can alcoholism have on a family who practices the Jewish faith? The answer to this question is complex. Drinking wine is described as “bringing joy to G‑d and man” (Judges 9:13). On the other hand, praying while drunk is forbidden, and priests are not permitted to bless the congregation while under the influence of any alcohol whatsoever. The way your family is affected depends entirely on how you deal with the problem.
Drinking wine is encouraged on special occasions because, in moderation, it relaxes the body and allows our spirit to shine through. However, getting drunk or trying to escape your feelings is strongly discouraged. This distaste for inebriation and focus on personal responsibility can make those who fall victim to the clutches of addiction feel guilty — sometimes to the extent that you feel you’ll be rejected by the community and take a step back, spiraling further into alcoholism.
This isn’t necessary or encouraged. Tailored, compassionate help is available for practicing Jews. Alcohol destroys families who don’t stick together, but with guidance and therapy from qualified practitioners who understand your unique needs, you can overcome this hurdle. First, you need to gain an understanding of the nature of alcoholism within the Jewish faith and accept that it’s time to make a change.
1. Many Jewish People Feel Afraid to Talk About Alcoholism
The shikur is often the subject of ridicule in our culture, and uncontrolled drunkenness is undoubtedly viewed as evil. As a Jewish person, you will be inclined to please your loved ones and weary of disgracing your family. These factors and the stigma of addiction can lead you to hide or deny your struggles from them due to shame. Facing up to the reality of your situation is imperative as the first step on your journey to recovery.
If your family finds out you are seeking help, they are likely to support you. The community will surround you and guide you as you demonstrate bravery in the face of adversity.
2. Conflict Resolution Is an Important Part of Recovery
Conflicting sentiments in scripture are often cited as a reason for people in the Jewish faith developing addictions. This is especially true concerning alcohol seemingly being revered and demonized at once. Occasionally, you might make excuses or blame your family for adhering to wine-drinking practices including Kiddush, the four cups at the Passover Seder and the importance of alcohol during a brit milah or chuppah.
Along your journey to recovery, you’ll learn the importance of finding the middle ground and avoiding extremes. Not everyone can adhere to the strict moderation required to enjoy alcohol. If you find yourself unable to control your intake, abstaining based on medical grounds is advised and permitted.
3. Reconnecting With Your Faith Will Help You to Recover
Alcoholism is lonely. The people who go through it regularly lose touch with loved ones, the wider community and their faith. There is increasing evidence that isolation is a major contributing factor in someone developing an addiction. Therapy within a Jewish faith-focused rehab program will help you to identify when and how you started going down the wrong path. With the help of nurturing, certified clinicians, you can learn to rebuild your inner strength and the connections you’ve lost.
If you’re the family member of someone who is going through active addiction, you probably feel hurt, disappointed and confused about how your loved one could end up in this position. Standing by them by helping them to get treatment for alcoholism will give you the much-needed support you deserve.
4. Addiction Can Affect Jewish People
There is a persistent myth that Jewish people aren’t impacted by addiction. Awareness surrounding alcoholism has increased significantly in recent years. There is truth in the myth; 20% of Jews possess a gene that makes developing alcohol addiction unlikely. Not only that, but the close family ties and strong moral code within our community make it less likely. Nonetheless, it is possible and it does happen.
Feeling as if you are somehow “un-Jewish” because you’ve developed an addiction is counterproductive. Discussing what you’ve been through with a certified counselor who understands your unique needs helps you to prevail over these feelings. Recovery aims to regain control over your life and enrich your future experiences with healthy pastimes.
5. When Alcoholism and Family Collide, Therapy is Always Best
You may have been put off attending therapy sessions because you’ve heard that programs such as the 12-step method are for gentiles only. However, AA and NA are no longer affiliated with any religion. An alcohol rehab center, like Recovery at the Crossroads, provides targeted support groups that use these methods while incorporating Jewish principles. Once you’ve been taught how, you can attend nonspecific group meetings and apply what you’ve learned to any setting.
Family therapy is a key component of alcohol treatment at Recovery at the Crossroads, helping you and your loved ones to communicate better and understand each other’s situation. Call us at 888-342-3881 to find out about our admissions process or seek advice from one of our friendly experts.