What is the problem?
Addiction is a disease. It is a primary illness, not caused by some outside circumstance. It is progressive, incurable and fatal. Addiction is a problem of brain-chemistry; it is a medical issue, not a moral problem. Because of it, alcoholics and addicts have lost the power of choice in the matter. Addiction is a progressive, fatal, incurable disease characterized by compulsive use, loss of control over use, and continued use despite negative consequences.
What's that got to do with us?
Alcoholism afflicts approximately one adult out of ten people sitting in your pews. The greatest cause of death among young people is traffic accidents; half are alcohol related.
- Alcohol is a factor in nearly one half of homicides. The average reduction in life span of a person who dies of alcohol related causes is 26 years.
- Alcohol plays a part in at least one out of every three failed marriages.
- 25-40% of general hospital admissions are for alcoholism and related causes.
- Some 18 million people in the US need alcohol treatment, less than one-fourth will get it.
- Alcohol abuse costs the nation untold millions.
- Alcoholism kills about 100,000 people each year
- Between the years 2001 and 2005, the number of Americans between the age of 50 and 59 who were using illegal drugs rose from 2.5 percent to 4.7 percent.
- Over six million children in America live with at least one parent who has a drug addiction.
- Since 1980, the number of deaths related to drug overdoses has risen over 540 percent.
The most commonly abused drug (other than alcohol) in the United States by individuals over the age of 12 is Marijuana, followed by prescription painkillers and over the counter medications. Addiction can affect persons of any age, gender, economic status, race or religion; it affects the people in your pews.
What can we do?
Alcoholism and addiction are recognizable by those who are adequately informed. The clergy are uniquely related to the delivery of appropriate care to the specific needs of those who are stricken because the clergy are sent to search out the sick and needy and to minister to them.
The nature of the disease of addiction is such that those who are its victims are incapable of recognizing the severity of their symptoms. Clergy and laity alike must learn enough about what the disease looks like, how it manifests, and what its impacts are, so that an effective pastoral response can be made and meaningful support offered.
Get acquainted with recovering people in your parish; find out what Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other Twelve Step programs are; know about treatment facilities in your community; locate resources.
Encourage an informed congregation. Start a Recovery Ministries Commission
How do we support recovery?
Schedule recovery events such as talks in your education program by recovering people.
Insure that clergy are knowledgeable about alcoholism and substance abuse, symptoms, intervention, and treatment. This includes knowledge about the increasing problem of prescription drug/pain killer addiction.
Plan and implement an educational effort in your parish so that every person knows some basic facts about alcoholism and addiction and its terrible cost to affected individuals, families, the Church and society.
Make sure everyone knows this is a disease, not a moral failing.
And do this:
You and your parish become an active, participating member of Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church.
What is Recovery Sunday?
Recovery Sunday is a celebration of the deliverance by God’s grace of persons who have been imprisoned by a punishing and bewildering illness.