Friendship House: Finding Help For Addictions



Identifying and getting help for those with addictions.

How can I be sure whether I, or someone I know, really has a problem with drugs or alcohol?

This can be difficult because of a powerful psychological mechanism known as denial. Addiction is sometimes defined as “the disease that tricks you into thinking you don’t have it.” Addicts often deny, to themselves, and to those around them, the seriousness of their problems. Some examples might be: “I only drink beer and wine, so I can’t be a ‘real alcoholic’” or “I could quit whenever I want; I just haven’t tried.”

Basically, if a substance or behavior, such as alcohol, drugs, compulsive eating or gambling, is causing persistent problems, and the person is unwilling or unable to stop the self-defeating behavior, it is likely that individual is struggling with an addiction.

What can I do if my friend, spouse, sibling or parent has an addiction but refuses to admit it or get help?

It can be frustrating and painful to watch someone close to you engaging in self-destructive behavior, but the sad truth is you cannot usually help someone who does not want to be helped.

This is where Friendship House can help. Often it is the parent, son or daughter, or spouse of the addict who comes to us first. Many family members have found solace by talking with the Recovery Rabbi, receiving professional counseling from our staff social worker and attending Al Anon meetings where those with similar issues help and support one another. In some cases, once the family member establishes his own support system and stops trying to “manage” his loved one’s addiction, the addict may decide on his own to seek help.

I am afraid to talk about my problem in front of other Jewish people because none of my family members or friends knows what I’ve been going through. What if the people at Friendship House gossip about me to others in the community?

Other people have shared your concern when they first came to Friendship House; however, they soon learned that the Jewish recovery community has the utmost respect for confidentiality. We want Friendship House to be a place where people who are struggling can come and talk honestly about their addictions, and this can only happen in an environment where confidentiality is honored.

OK, I know I have a problem, and I want help. What is the first step?

Anyone is welcome to attend the weekly Jewish recovery meeting, which takes place every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at Friendship House. The meeting is preceded by a Dinner-and-Learn program, where participants enjoy a free kosher dinner prepared by Recovery Rabbi Yarden Blumstein, and discuss various topics relating to Judaism and recovery. Those who prefer to talk to the rabbi first may feel free to call him to set up a one-on-one meeting.

This is the first in a series of monthly offerings from the Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House in West Bloomfield, which provides support and guidance to individuals and families struggling with addiction, isolation and other life crises through a welcoming Jewish recovery community that offers friendship, support, and a variety of programs that facilitate lasting success.

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