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…
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