The Orthodox Union - Publications
The Magazine of The Orthodox Union

Orthodox Youth and Substance Abuse: Shattering the Myths

By Dr. Benzion Twerski

Resources:

These agencies can offer guidance and refer you to appropriate facilities and treatment centers.

JACS (Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically dependent and Significant others)
426 W. 58th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 397-4197

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency
*local chapter*

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Information
Room 10A56, Parklawn Building
Rockville, MD 20857

Alcoholics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous
*consult local phone directory for intergroup office*

Ohr Ki Tov
4810 Beach 48th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11224
(718) 946-4545

Counter Force (counseling/prevention services)
(Torah Umesorah Program)
610 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11230
(718) 854-7730

Tempo
(Treatment center mentioned in "An Addict in Our Home")
112 Franklin Place
Woodmere, NY 11598
(516) 546-9008

An excellent book to review the subject matter is Getting Tough on Gateway Drugs: A Guide for the Family by Robert L. Dupont, Jr., M.D., (American Psychiatric Press, 1984).

Signs of alcohol/drug experimentation and use

We Can Still Save the Future -- If We Dare

To summarize, I urge that several goals be relentlessly pursued by us as individuals and as a community:

Begin to discuss the problems of addiction openly; in your community, your family and your schools. We have tried to avoid the problem, and in doing so, we have failed our children.

Be alert for signs of alcohol/drug experimentation and use (see sidebar). Refrain from denial, e.g., believing that "it cannot happen in my kehillah" (shul, yeshivah, family). It is a contagious disease and contaminates without respect for the kehillah, shul, yeshivah or family.

Address addiction as a disease, which requires treatment. Do not take it as rebellion or bad behavior, with the focus on punishments.

There are resources available to cope with the problems of the addict and his/her family. (See listings). These should all be utilized, even if you think there only may be a problem.

I often ask an addict seeking therapy a simple question: Would you be willing to report the names of the dealers who sold you drugs to the law enforcement authorities? The addict's answer may well reflect his or her true level of motivation to recover.

Likewise, the readiness of a community to pursue those who would destroy it is a reflection of its level of caring about every precious soul in that community.

Allowing drug activity to continue is tantamount to supporting it. If you or someone you know is aware of the names of dealers, report them to the police or the local office of the Drug Enforcement Agency. Our community deserves protection -- and we are the only ones who can provide it.

Dr. Benzion Twerski is the staff psychologist at Substance Abuse Services at Elizabeth General Medical Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is on the professional advisory boards of JAADD (Jewish Association for Attention Deficit Disorder) and JACS (Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically dependent persons, and Significant others). He has written and published in a wide variety of lay and professional periodicals, and lectures on addictive disorders in the Jewish population.

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