Get Sober About Jewish Addiction

jssThere’s this pervasive myth among our own tribe and the world at large that Jews don’t drink. And if they do, but they don’t become alcoholics. And if they’re alcoholics, they keep it really, really quiet – because everyone knows Jews don’t drink.

It’s total nonsense, of course: Anyone who’s ever attended a ZBT fraternity party or a Purim festival in Savannah knows that not only do Jews drink, they can slam beer bongs to put the Irish to shame. And what about drugs? Half the Jewish kids I knew in college had serious cocaine problems. One friend who I’ve since lost track of had such significant meth issues that he sought out drugs while on a weekend furlough from Beit T’Shuvah – a Jewish rehab center. And you over there popping the Percoset like gum balls – hello? This farkokte idea that Jews are too smart to be addicts, or that we don’t have the alcoholism gene (which some of us may not, but there hasn’t been a gene discovered for food, drug, gambling and other substance abuse, has there?) has got to stop.

The JACS program (Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others) has done an outstanding job of bringing the reality of Jewish addiction to light and providing recovery support since 1980, but there’s still this extra-thick layer of shame and guilt, especially for Jewish women.

JACS has recently published Jewish Sisters In Sobriety, a collection of personal stories and resources that is the first of its kind – a way to validate Jewish women in recovery as well as provide information for those who haven’t taken the first step. (Speaking of steps, part of the challenge for Jews seeking solace in traditional 12-step programs is that so many AA, Al-Anon, NA and other meetings are held in churches – an issue addressed in the book.)

These women’s stories pierced my heart – the child of Holocaust survivors re-creating the misery of her childhood through drug use, the mother snorting coke on the subway in front of her husband and son, the abandoned daughter seeking out relationships with alcoholics – and reading about such suffering experienced by the women and caused to their families only proves how necessary these stories be shared.

Could a woman you know benefit from Jewish Sisters In Sobriety? Buy it for her here.

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