There is a public health epidemic in the United States of alcoholism and drug addiction, including in the Christian church among clergy and the people in the pews. There has been a significant increase in women alcoholics, including among older Christian women in Christian churches. Many of our churches and Christians still lack the knowledge to discuss this epidemic and to offer proper support.
“According to the U.S. Surgeon General, Nearly 21 million Americans – more than the number of people who have all cancers combined – suffer from substance use disorders.
‘Alcohol and drug addiction take an enormous toll on individuals, families, and communities,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. ‘Most Americans know someone who has been touched by an alcohol or a drug use disorder. Yet 90 percent of people with a substance use disorder are not getting treatment. That has to change.’
Another important article about handling the epidemic of alcohol (and drug) addiction in the Christian church. We are facing a public health epidemic. And we must do more to help problem drinkers get medical care (if they are willing) and other help, help for their spouses, and help for their children.
In the United States, the U.S. Surgeon General declared alcohol and drug addiction as a public health epidemic. https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/ According to the U.S. Surgeon General only 10% of addicted people get help and 90% do not get any care for their addictions.
Addictions are complex, with genetic underpinnings that predispose people to become addicted, combined with other factors like childhood trauma/abuse that sets people on a course to drink and take drugs to numb pain and shame.
There are other factors that cause people to become addicted including: untreated mental illness (bipolar, depression, and anxiety disorders), adult trauma, loss, grief and other stressors. In the beginning, the substances do work to calm the addict and give them relief. And then they don’t work and become more and more destructive in a person’s life.
Bishop Heather Cook, an American Bishop, has recently been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for a hit and run death of a 41-year-old cyclist. The incident has led to much discussion about alcoholism in the church and especially among the clergy. This is an important issue which the church needs to face more realistically than it is at present. Fr Chris offers some thoughts on this important issue:
You may know the jokes about seeing pink elephants, and the popular views about the delirium tremens and hallucination which occur during alcohol withdrawal. In my case, during detox, I didn’t see pink elephants but mice flying around the room and attacking me. It’s a weird phenomenon – you know it isn’t real, but it feels and seems real.
We also often refer to the “elephant in the room” as the thing that we all know is there, but no one will dare…
With the public health epidemic of alcoholism and drug addiction in the United States according to the U.S. Surgeon General https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/, an epidemic that is also showing up among the clergy and the people in the pews (and that includes growing numbers of women and older women), articles such as this one are needed to address how we deal with substance abuse in the church.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General only 10% of people who have addictions get help and 90% never get any help. This must change.
Many people with addictions are genetically predisposed to addiction and research has shown that childhood trauma (such as child sexual abuse) is one of the factors that causes people to numb pain and shame with alcohol and drugs.
There are other issues behind addictions as well: untreated mental illness (bi-polar, depression, and anxiety disorders to name some), adult trauma, grief and loss, and stress.
Other people are prescribed powerful drugs to help with cope with injuries and later find themselves addicted to drugs.
Many churches are uneducated about how to offer help and resources to those with addictions of all ages and their families. – by Velour
This weekend, NewSpring Church in South Carolina announced in their services that Perry Noble has been removed from his position as pastor due to alcohol issues. More information, including full statements excerpted below, can be found at their website here. According to the church’s statement, Perry’s posture towards his marriage, increased reliable on alcohol and other behaviors, were of continual concern. Due to this, the Executive Pastors confronted Perry and went through the steps of dealing with sin in the church as outlined in Matthew 18.
The rest of the statement explains that, in accordance with their bylaws, their process ultimately ended in his removal from leadership. In Noble’s own statement, he expresses his love for the church, asks for forgiveness, and shares that he is under the care of an excellent psychiatrist as he works through his present issues. He writes,
Note: From blog administrator of GBFSV Church Abuse website. This is an important article and one that is unaddressed in so many churches, especially NeoCalvinist/9 Marks/John MacArthur-ite churches like my former church Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley. The pastors/elders at GBFSV have NO education, training, or licensing in the big topics, including alcoholism and use what is beyond dumb and very dangerous — Nouthetic Counseling. It’s Bible Counseling which consists of throwing Scripture verses at things.
The pastors/elders (senior pastor and chairman of the elder board) required that I undergo eight months of meetings about an older woman church member to have “unity” with her. They discussed gossip, quoted Scripture, and wrote about gossip on a chalkboard. They never addressed the real issue: She’s a substance abuser, she’s an alcoholic, and this is what they do. She should have been under the care of a physician who should have supervised her care and treatment for alcoholism. The GBFSV pastors/elders failed her, her adult children, and church members.
The GBFSV pastors/elders even demanded that some people apologize to her for the problems she caused. That’s called codependency and enabling and it’s not supposed to be done with substance abusers. 10/19/16