April is Alcohol Awareness Month and there is a wall of silence between the faith community and people with alcohol and drug abuse issues. This wall is keeping the faith community from being a valuable resource for those who are being impacted by alcoholism and drug abuse. One way the faith community can break this silence is to become involved. This would mean that the clergy staff is armed with tools necessary to identify signs and symptoms of abuse. Being able to recognize these signs can be a great start in addressing alcoholism and addictions.
What is Alcoholism?
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) describes alcoholism as a disease that has the following four symptoms:
- Craving – strong need, or urge, to drink
- Loss of control – not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
- Physical dependence – withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety after stopping drinking.
- Tolerance – the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get “high”.
For more information go to: http://www.niaaa.nihgov.
What can the Faith Community do?
There are things that the faith community can do to address alcoholism and addictions. Faith leaders can become advocates for the families and individuals they serve. If a leader is not trained in the signs of alcoholism and additions, getting training is a great start. If this isn’t possible, it is very important to know how and where to guide people to get help.
In families where addictions reign, real spiritual development can’t occur until family members have dealt with the family dynamics surrounding the addiction. It order to support spiritual development, all aspects of life of must be addressed. This must be done in a loving way even if at times that may mean showing tough love.
If faith leaders have a heart to help those who are struggling with addictions, consider hosting support groups and/or partnering with trained interventionist.
We must remember, to love as God has loved us.