Originally published on JewishBoston.com.
We’ve recently started featuring blogs about addiction treatment from a Jewish perspective, posted by Treatment4Addiction. The person behind those blog posts is Jenny Levine. Jenny grew up in the Boston area in the Jewish community. She is now living in California and working for Treatment4Addiction, and last week she spent some time chatting with us about the work she’s doing.
What is the work that you’re doing?
The website, Treatment4Addiction.com, is one of the world’s largest recovery resource databases. We have listings of treatment centers, sober living, therapists, nutritionists, and outpatient programs throughout the country. We also have a database of thousands of blogs on substance abuse, drug information, mental disorders such as eating disorders, and behavioral addictions like gambling and love addiction. We also have a blog that we update weekly on current issues regarding drug use, our personal stories, and related topics in the news.
My role is doing outreach; I’m doing a lot of link building, getting treatment centers on board and listed in the directory.
Why reach out to Jews specifically?
I am Jewish and I worked with the AJC, so the Jewish community is my community. I think it’s really important because there are tons of Christian drug rehabs out there that people are familiar with, but in the Jewish community addiction is not really talked about as much as it should be.
Why do you think that is?
We’re an extremely small population in the States and in the world, so most of the treatment centers are gentile and do include prayer like the Lord’s Prayer because that serves the majority.
Are there Jewish resources?
There are Jewish residential treatment centers – most are not secular, incorporating teachings of the Torah into a Jewish faith-based program. There’s a Jewish 12 Steps to Recovery program which is like the basic principles of other 12 steps programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous incorporating traditional teachings of the Torah.
Why do you think faith is such a big part of recovery for many people?
The biggest step towards getting sober and wanting to be sober is believing that you don’t have control of your drug use/gambling/alcohol use, so for a lot of people, they give that lack of control to a higher being and have faith that their disease is not in their hands.
What are the ways for someone to recognize that he or she needs help?
The specific signs depend on the substance or the behavior that you’re abusing, but it’s pretty much when you continue to use that substance or do that behavior despite harmful and negative effects on your body physically, your work life, your mental state, on your relationships.
What’s the first step in getting help?
The simplest is to go online and do a search for a treatment center, an outpatient program, a detox program… That’s why I love our site so much: it has all that information. Another thing is reaching out to a family member or close friend to say “I need help.” Usually when an addict is in their disease, they can’t get help for themselves, so if they can vocalize to someone else that they need help, they can get the ball moving.
If you are that friend or family member and you see someone you care about struggling, how can you help them if they haven’t asked?
That can be hard. Oftentimes, family members and friends hold interventions for an addict to sit them down and say, “Look, we’re worried about you. This is how your behavior is affecting me; I’m scared for your life.” But it’s also important for the addict themselves to want to get help. If they don’t want to change, they’re not likely to utilize treatment and recovery resources.
Do you have any words of advice for people who are struggling with addiction right now?
It may seem impossible to recover, that your life can never change; that’s certainly how I felt before I got sober. But it can. Through treatment and other recovery resources, your life can change and you can have an amazing life.