web analytics
August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Alcohol And Drugs In The Jewish Community: The Problems Few Can See

Cymbrowitz-062912

Disbelief and denial are two words that can describe the alcohol and drug problem in the Jewish community, and that is a problem in itself.

Have you given much thought to this issue? Most of us haven’t. It’s not until we are personally affected that we become concerned. We must not let it to get to that point.

As chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, I have been afforded a view of drug and alcohol problems on both a statewide and a local level. In most communities the evidence of drug abuse and overindulgence in alcohol is obvious in criminal activity, emergency room visits, employment statistics and dysfunctional families. To look at those communities is to know that drugs and/or alcohol are an issue. Our community is different; many of those abusing alcohol or drugs are not only functioning well but maintaining either high grades or business success.

Last December, in conjunction with the Orthodox Union, I brought together thirty local rabbanim, social workers, doctors, psychologists, counselors, program directors and attorneys who work with community members experiencing alcohol and drug problems. The roundtable discussion provided the experts with a forum to share information. Such problems as shul-hopping for simchas serving alcohol, excessive drinking at Kiddush Clubs and helping oneself to another family member’s prescription painkillers found in a medicine cabinet were highlighted.

The experts all agreed that there is a growing problem of drug and alcohol abuse in the Jewish community and expressed a collective frustration that there were too few resources to respond. The perception of our community being alcohol- and drug problem-free extends all the way to the halls of the legislature. When I talk to my colleagues, they have trouble believing there is a need for funding prevention and treatment programs in the Jewish community.

Another obstacle to dealing with the alcohol and drug problems head-on is the shame these problems cause in the Jewish community. Whether it’s just embarrassment or the fear of difficulty with a shidduch in the future, drug and alcohol problems are often kept behind closed doors by families, shuls and organizations.

This only serves to exacerbate the problem. There should be no shame in dealing with either an alcohol or drug problem. We must all understand this and come together as a community to provide support for our neighbors dealing with alcohol and drug issues. They need our help. This is important for the individual as well as for the community.

It was because of the unique circumstances surrounding the alcohol and drug problem in the Jewish community that I recently invited Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, who heads the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, to participate in a roundtable discussion, cosponsored by the Orthodox Union. I thought that it was important for our state’s top alcohol and drug official to see and hear firsthand our concerns and needs.

On May 3 the commissioner joined more than twenty practitioners and rabbis from our community at the Young Israel of Midwood. The roundtable participants told the commissioner that the false notion that no alcohol or drug problem exists in the Jewish community often results in individuals with problems not receiving the treatment they need and the community as a whole not getting its fair and needed share of resources for prevention and treatment programs.

“The level of denial still needs to be addressed…it’s tripping us up,” one social worker said, while a program director added that she can “walk down any block in Flatbush and point out houses on each block with a kid or two at risk.”

Commissioner Gonzalez-Sanchez was told about the need for culturally sensitive treatment and prevention programs: “Being an orthodox Jew in recovery is much more than having kosher food.” A drug counselor shared a story of an Orthodox client doing well in an out of town secular drug treatment program who called in distress because she suddenly felt a rekindling of spiritual feelings.

Commissioner Gonzalez-Sanchez understood. “The Office of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Services,” she said, “remains committed to providing quality health care that is comprehensive and sensitive to the specific needs of the individuals we serve. I look forward to continue working closely with Assemblyman Cymbrowitz to address the issues facing the people of this community.”

About the Author: Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz represents Brooklyn’s 45th Assembly District, which includes parts of Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Manhattan Beach, Midwood, and Brighton Beach. His community office is located at 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road (718-743-4078) and his e-mail address is cymbros@assembly.state.ny.us.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Alcohol And Drugs In The Jewish Community: The Problems Few Can See”

  1. 12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous wrok, and can easily be shoe horned to accommodate Judiasm if you must keep it Jewish. I know it works because I tried it and now have 16 years of sobriety. So don't overlook it.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Anti-Semitic Briitsh MP George Galloway poses with a lump on his head after being assaulted.
British Man Beats Up Anti-Semite George ‘Hitler’ Galloway
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reviewing maps on the Golan Heights.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

TorahScroll AoT17

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

Troodler-082914

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

Eisenstock-082914

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

More Articles from Steven Cymbrowitz
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Jew hatred is again spreading like a fast-moving cancer all over the globe.

Cymbrowitz-062912

Disbelief and denial are two words that can describe the alcohol and drug problem in the Jewish community, and that is a problem in itself.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/alcohol-and-drugs-in-the-jewish-community-the-problems-few-can-see/2012/06/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: