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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
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Road To Recovery

Battling-Addictions-logo

Dear Brocha,

Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story. I am getting chizuk just from reading about your journey. I know my husband and I need to go to a meeting, and we will. Let me tell you my story:

My 20-year-old son lives at home. He has some learning disabilities; however they never affected him socially. In school he was always “one of the guys.” However, now that his friends have graduated they are all either in college or Beit Medrash. He went to college for one semester then dropped out. He now has two jobs, and I am proud of him.

While I was cleaning his room last week, I found some marijuana. My husband says he has smelled it for the last couple of weeks. I am a child of the sixties, and some of my friends did experiment with drugs and today they are productive citizens. I am left with a lingering question, is my son an addict or just experimenting? If he is an addict I would like to get him help. He has so much potential and I don’t want him to waste his life, yet I don’t want to accuse him of being an addict and jeopardize our already fragile relationship.

Caring Mom

Dear Caring Mom,

Unfortunately many teenagers who turn to drugs do so because they do not have the proper tools to deal with their emotional pain. If a teenager feels he is inadequate, and is unable to go to the same school/college/yeshiva as his friends due to a disability, if he does not realize that he is blessed with many talents that his friends do not have, and the pain gets too strong to bear, he (or she) can turn to drugs.

At this point, only your son knows if he is an addict. In the beginning most people feel they can handle the drug use, yet after a while it is the drug that is handling them. They lived to use, and now use to live. An addict’s life becomes controlled by the drugs.

We all have preconceived notions about what an addict is. There is no shame in admitting to being an addict once he begins to take positive action. If he can identify his problem then he can begin to identify his solution. The following is an abbreviated list of questions that if your son can answer honestly will help him define whether or not he is an addict.

1. Have you ever used alone?

2. Have you ever manipulated or lied to a doctor to get a prescription?

3. Have you ever stolen to get drugs?

4. Do you avoid people who do not approve of your using drugs?

5. Have you lied about what or how much you use?

6. Have you put the purchase of drugs ahead of your financial responsibilities?

7. Have you ever lied about how much you are using?

8. Have you ever tried to stop or control your using?

As I said before, whether your son is an addict or not is a question only he can answer. The actual number of “yes” responses to the above questions is not as important as how he feels inside and how the addiction has affected his life. Addiction is an insidious disease that affects all areas of the addict’s life.

When he firsts reads the questions it might be frightening for him to think that he is an addict. Most addicts will try to rationalize saying, “I’m different and I know I use drugs but I’m not addicted.” However, if he is an addict he must first admit he has a problem before any progress can be made toward recovery.

These questions, when honestly approached, may help to show him how using drugs has made his life unmanageable.

Addiction is a disease which without recovery ends in jail, institution or death. Addiction robs people of their pride, self-esteem, family and even their desire to live. If your son has not reached this point he doesn’t have to. There is a way to bring the rock bottom up to him, thereby encouraging him to seek recovery. Although an addict is not responsible for his disease he is responsible for his recovery.

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Battling-Addictions-logo

I feel so much shame about my disease and the pain I have caused my family and friends. I am trying to make things better now, and hopefully I will be able to beat this disease for good. As they say in the meetings: “One day at a time!”

Battling-Addictions-logo

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Dear Brocha,

Thank you so much for your column and for shining light on this matter.

Addiction has been gnawing at the souls of our community for a long time. Yet, it still remains a disease that is swept under the table.

Dear Brocha,

As I write this letter I am overcome with emotions. Relief, fear, trepidation, elation…the feelings are all jumbled up inside of me.

Please allow me to back track.

My daughter, who recently turned 20, just left to rehab. After four years of denial, lies, manipulation, anger and chaos she finally admitted she has a problem with alcohol.

Dear Brocha,…

Today, I am a father of six bochurim b”ah. While I love and appreciate all of my children, unfortunately the Yomim Tovim aren’t filled with the good memories as in the days of yore. You see, one of my sons got involved with the wrong crowd, and at 16 he looks forward to Shabbos and Yom Tov as simply another opportunity to drink. Now that Sukkos is almost upon us, instead of joyfully anticipating, I am cautiously fearful about what Simchas Torah will bring.

Dear Brocha,

I am married for 5 years and am unsure how to proceed with my husband and his behavior. Our religion incorporates alcohol throughout the year and during life cycle events. Purim, Pesach, bar mitzvahs, weddings and every Shabbos kiddush (not to mention the kiddush club) all seemingly require alcohol as an integral and necessary ingredient. For my husband, it seems like there is always a “good reason” to make a l’chayim.

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