Baltimore, MD - Apr. 10, 2021 - Unfortunately, many people who need help are afraid to come forward because of the stigma around substance use and addiction. When we were faced with our own daughter’s battle with addiction, we were overwhelmed with fear and desperate for help. Thinking back to that time (which was not so long ago), we reflect on what type of resources, support or conversations would have been helpful to us. There was so much we did not know, and so much we had to learn on our own in order to face this crisis and help our daughter and our family through this struggle.

We first told our family’s story publicly at an event almost exactly 3 years ago. We did it to shatter the stigma around addiction and let other people facing this issue know they are not alone. Our goal was to open up a dialogue, increase awareness and provide support and resources to those in need. As a result, so many people have come forward since that time from all types of Jewish communities across the country. They come to us for help with a loved one, be it a spouse, child, parent, sibling, etc., or for themselves.

Sadly, however, there is still so much stigma associated with this disease and many more who continue to suffer in silence. Too many people tell us that they feel they have no one to talk to, nowhere to turn, because they feel ashamed. Whether it's a fear of judgment, not knowing about Jewish-specific resources, or having children of shidduch age, Jewish individuals often face culturally-specific stigmas and concerns. In addition to that, all sorts of issues arise when deciding how to approach a loved one or friend. What do I say? What can I do? How do I balance helping vs. enabling?

Addiction is a disease and we are not immune. Approximately 46% of Americans have a close friend or family member who struggles with substance use or addiction, whether they know it or not. When we expand this to include neighbors, colleagues, peers, or even members of our shul, chances are everybody knows somebody facing these issues. So what can one do to help?

This Sunday, April 18, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. EST, CCSA is addressing the issue of “Now What?” by hosting a virtual event that includes a panel of Jewish leaders and professionals to address the various obstacles, strategies, and options for getting someone help with an addiction. Panelists include Rabbi Dr. Benzion Twerski, Dr. Audrey Freshman, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, and Dr. Moshe Winograd. Collectively, they will address halachic concerns, communication strategies, and treatment options.

Communities Confronting Substance Abuse (CCSA) was founded with the mission of creating stigma-free Jewish communities through programming and services focused on education and prevention, and increasing communal awareness around the issue of substance use and addiction. Our goal in hosting this event is to continue eliminating the stigma that persists around addiction, shatter misconceptions, and give our community the tools necessary to combat addiction on all fronts.

We look forward to seeing you at the event. Pre-registration is available by clicking here.