A variety of faith-based groups share a similar mission: to help people recover from alcohol and other drug dependency.
Inside Bay Area reported that spirituality has been a part of recovery since the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous 75 years ago, but has received a boost under the Bush administration’s “faith-based” funding initiative, which has provided money for church-based addiction programs. Researchers are currently studying the effectiveness of faith-based interventions for alcohol and other drug problems.
On the local level, leaders like Judy Schwartz of the Fremont Family Resource Center has made connections with local religious groups and urged clergy to tackle addiction in their ministry. “We’re working with religious institutions to complement non-profit services,” Schwartz said. “I actually think people struggling with drug addiction or chemical dependency can benefit from a community of faith and spiritual support.”
In the San Francisco Bay area, Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim leaders also have become more interested in faith-based addiction interventions; the challenge is especially difficult for Muslims, since drinking and using drugs are forbidden under Islam. “The first step in treating an addiction is not to stigmatize someone or label them as subhuman,” said Mohamad Rajabally, president of the Islamic Society of the East Bay. “(Treating addiction) is new to the Muslim community, but (substance abuse) is definitely a problem.”
Rajabally recently developed a version of AA’s 12-step program for Muslims; Sikhs also are tackling the problem of addiction in their communities. “Traditionally, it’s not been a big problem,” said Sarabjit Cheema, a member of the Sikh Gurdwara Sahib of Fremont. “But now, in the West, there are problems. So yes, there have been discussions, although it’s still at a preliminary stage.”
Kevin Hom, associate pastor at Fremont Community Church, said that churches can help answer questions about addiction as well as supporting those who are trying to maintain sobriety.
“(Addiction) can hit anybody — anybody,” he said. “It blindsides so many people who think their lives are together. When someone is in addiction, you have a choice: Fight it on your own — and some people might survive — or get to be part of a community where you find strength and encouragement, where you can be frank about what’s really happening in your life, and that gives you the relationship you need in order to survive.”
From Join Together Online.