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Jewish Rehab Center: Substance Addiction Treatment for Jews

Last Updated: October 22, 2021

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

The stigmatization of Jews in recovery might be a deterrent to seeking a Jewish rehab center for substance addiction care. Many members of faith find it difficult to seek help when battling addiction, this is especially true with Jews who live with set standards on morality. The stereotypical Jew is one that has high moral values and is expected to live above social indulgences. Therefore Jewish alcoholism is deemed unacceptable and is instead hidden. The denial of Jewish alcoholism by leaders in Jewish communities discourages effective diagnosis of addiction. However, without seeking out a Jewish rehabilitation center the impact of substance abuse may be devastating. Rather than opting for the conventional rehab facilities which may have an inhibiting effect on the recovery of the Jewish patients living with addictions, it would be intuitive to go for a more familiar Jewish recovery center to promote long-lasting sobriety.

Read on to learn more about Jews in recovery, Jewish drug rehab, and how they are helping both mainstream and Orthodox Jews with substance use disorders.

Jewish Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Statistics

Drugs and alcohol provide an easy way to cope with daily stressors or escape the boredom of a traditional or restrictive lifestyle. Studies show that young Jews are attracted to drugs and alcohol due to the glamorous portrayal in the media. There is a pressing need to persuade the Orthodox segment of the community that addiction is a real problem that is preventable and treatable.

Jews and Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is one of the most commonly used addictive substances among Jews, even though Judaism and alcohol are immiscible. Even as the problem grows, there is continued denial in the community that addiction is an issue. This prevents many people from getting help. Judaism and alcohol are the sensitive cases, one that usually motions that there were insignificant numbers of Jews in recovery because of the nature, and teachings of the religion as well as the piety of the Jewish community. The prevalence of alcohol use and Jews in recovery is uncertain due to the denial of the existence of addictive behaviors among the Jewish community.  Judaism and alcohol addiction is further refuted when congregations of believers collectively lend their beliefs in discrediting the possibility of Jews in recovery or battling addiction to alcohol. According to research, 23.5% of subjects at a study admitted to a history of alcohol abuse. The lack of education on the topic and the fear of stigma may cause those that require addiction care to refuse help and remain in addiction.

Addicted Jewish man meditates in prayer.

Drug Abuse Among Jewish Communities

There is intangible data on the prevalence of drug use among the Jewish community owing to the dominant belief systems enforced by rabbinic authorities, which is the highest level of the law, and the denial that there are actually many Jew patients receiving addiction care. This system would not condone any behavior that posed a threat to health and life. Furthermore, many of the undocumented numbers of Jews living with drug addictions are skeptical about getting help.

The modern endorsement of the 12-step programs by rabbinic authorities is a major step towards progress, ensuring that those that need care for addiction can easily find a Jewish rehabilitation center that suits their needs.

Myths Concerning Judaism And Substance Abuse

Judaism and alcohol have no correlation. Even though wine and alcohol are part of Jewish celebrations and rituals since time immemorial, the community places a stigma against addiction. This view is particularly present among Orthodox Jews who separate themselves from mainstream society and follow strictly traditional values. A long legacy of denial in the community means Jews suffering from addiction often experience alienation.

Some of the Myths and Prejudices Regarding Judaism and Alcohol Include:

  • People of the Jewish faith are protected against addiction
  • Orthodox Jews do not drink alcohol or use illicit drugs
  • Only Jews who are alienated from their faith succumb to alcohol and drugs
  • Substance use disorders are a sign of moral failure and cause for shame
  • There is no need for faith-based addiction recovery programs because addiction is not a problem in people who follow Judaism

The link between crime and drug abuse is well known. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Jews are the biggest target of hate crimes in America. Drug-related offenses include possession and sale of illicit substances, theft to feed a drug habit, and illegal activities in association with other people with substance use disorder. People with addiction are more likely to commit violent crimes. Many criminal offenses are committed by individuals who used alcohol or drugs prior to the incident or were acting under the influence at the time of the crime.

Many Jews battling addiction do not get the support they need. With the growing awareness that addiction is prevalent in people who follow Judaism, there is a demand for faith-based rehab centers that provide education, resources, and support for addiction recovery based on a Jewish lifestyle. The development of treatment programs and rehabilitation facilities tailored to the needs of Orthodox Jews is a step in the right direction.

Male Jewish share his concerns with psychologist.

Stigma Against Addiction in Jewish Communities

Addiction doesn’t discriminate between people of different religions and spiritual leanings. However, there is a common misconception among Jews that people of their faith are immune to substance abuse. This religion teaches that the use of illicit substances is wrong. In fact, drug and alcohol abuse is deeply frowned upon in the community. People who follow Judaism are taught that their body belongs not to them but to God. They are advised to distance themselves from anything that destroys the body and to accustom themselves to whatever heals the body. Yet, even orthodox Jews are not immune to the scourge of addiction.

Here Are Some Common Challenges That Jews Face and Barriers to Seeking Addiction Treatment:

  • The stigma, guilt, shame, and low self-esteem experienced by patients because of the stereotype that Jews held the highest moral standards.
  • The possible penalties that may be faced within the Jewish community due to publicity
  • The perception that spirituality can rid them of their cravings
  • Lifestyle and keeping up appearance is also a major reason for one to refuse treatment. Those that hold certain positions in the community or whose sudden absence from would be difficult to explain may decide to wait out the addiction and indulge more in as many self-help treatment resources as they can find.

Jewish Rehab Center: Judaism-Based Addiction Treatment

People battling addictions are already having a difficult time with withdrawal symptoms and feelings of loneliness and rejection. The last thing they need is a bias or some form of psychological pressure due to their traditional Jewish values. On the contrary, being with people from the same religious and cultural background can give those in recovery an immense sense of belonging and connection.

For many followers of this faith, the community plays an important role in recovery. A significant number of individuals may prefer to consult a rabbi for guidance on overcoming addiction.

Jewish rehabilitation centers treat people of this faith who develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Many people with substance use disorders feel isolated and judged by the community. The staff at these facilities are trained to address the shame and guilt experienced by those who succumb to illicit substances. Psychologically, shame and isolation can result in a vicious circle that turns people with substance use disorder back towards the chemical crutch that substance use offers. Jewish drug rehab centers can help kick the habit with the best therapy for a healthy, happy, drug-free life.

5 Best Drug and Alcohol Programs for Jews

Some treatment facilities that are appropriate for people who follow Judaism are listed below:

Chabad Residential Treatment Center, Los Angeles, CA

The Chabad Residential Jewish recovery center is a leading Jewish rehabilitation facility in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1972 and specializes in the recovery and wellness of Jewish men above the age of 18. The techniques and approaches used in Chabad rehab have been developed based on the strategies of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington D.C. Treatment is offered to men from varying backgrounds. Chabad Center has maintained a higher success rate compared to the national average and has produced thousands of successful graduates over the years.

The goal at a Jewish recovery center is to ensure long-term success through a distinctively faith-based approach. The program integrates standard therapeutic approaches with religious teachings for spiritual growth during addiction treatment. What is unique about the Chabad rehabilitation addiction center is that it focuses on getting to know a patient individually. The counseling program is customized. Treatment regimens are modified based on the behavioral and spiritual needs of each patient. People with substance use disorder on recovery participate in daily prayers, teachings of the Torah, and study groups. The center serves kosher meals and also offers vocational training and relapse education.

Jewish Center for Addiction Chicago, IL

Jewish rehab center is an organization that supports individuals and families in the community through a compassionate approach to the challenges of addiction. Synagogues and other community-based organizations all over the nation are encouraged to open their doors for recovery meetings and provide outreach services, education, and counseling to those affected by substance abuse. The organization’s goal is to educate the community about addiction and debunk the common myths that prevent Jews from getting help. The Jewish rehab center provides services such as community education, Jewish resource for recovery, older adult services, serenity Shabbat, and other forms of support services. These services are tailored to adolescents, adults, and families.

Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD

Jewish Community Services is a renowned Jewish rehab center in Maryland that provides outpatient addiction recovery through individual and group counseling. The program also offers educational sessions on the dangers of addiction as well as a nursing home for children, teens, and families that are affected by substance abuse. The Jewish drug rehab is managed by health care professionals that ensure 24 hour care and guidance for patients. Their services include emotional and behavioral health, aging and caregiving addiction support, and reintegration guidance. They also give options for Jewish alcoholics anonymous as aftercare.

Recovery at the Crossroads, Blackwood, NJ

A Jewish rehab center provides a feel of the culture and brings together like-minded individuals in the faith; each person understanding the other’s struggle and being able to relate to the trials of Judaism and alcohol. Recovery at the Crossroad has one of the best Jewish rehabilitation center programs with a care culture and familiar foods, festivities like Yamim tovim, and the weekly Shabbos observation. Why choose this Jewish rehab center? There is an array of services, inclusive of partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, or general outpatient. These include all forms of individual and holistic therapy as well as tailored treatment to help build coping mechanisms and prevent lapses. The Jewish alcoholics anonymous programs helps long-term sobriety.

Realization Center, Inc, Manhattan, NY

Realization center is one of the places that operate orthodox programs to suit the needs of clients with substance abuse disorder. The Jewish rehab center provides a religion-sensitive treatment that follows the heritage and teachings of Judaism. The home provides counseling on the disease of addiction and how Orthodox Jews can live a dependency-free life. The Jewish rehabilitation center offers on-site 12-step meetings, family therapy, group therapy, crisis intervention, educational programs dual diagnosis, and other issues connected with addiction. The treatment is incorporated into the client’s lifestyle lessons and belief system and is endorsed by a Rabbi.

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Jewish Rehabilitation: Structured Addiction Treatment Programs

Addiction treatment is particularly effective when it integrates an individual’s heritage, culture, and religious beliefs in the therapy techniques. Jewish drug rehabilitation is a type of faith-based recovery that offers unique services and therapies to Jews seeking help. Though these services are designed to help primarily those with a Jewish background, they can also benefit people of other faiths, especially minority religions, seeking addiction treatment.

Jewish rehab programs focus on retraining the addict’s thought process and daily lifestyle so that they make healthier and more productive choices. These addiction recovery programs often combine the widely accepted 12-step theory of drug rehabilitation with additional tenets from the Torah.

The structure and organization of a Jewish drug rehabilitation program depending on the provider and the objectives of the specific center. Services can range from detox, individual therapy, group sessions, grief counseling, and workshops for people with coexisting conditions such as anger management issues or relationship problems. In addition, Jewish drug rehabilitation centers offer relapse prevention guidance. The counseling sessions, workshops, and support groups are in tune with the needs of Jews and work in conjunction with the principles of this faith.

Spiritual Traditions and Addiction Recovery for Jews

Jewish spiritual traditions offer a structure that encourages and supports recovery and rehab. The religious doctrines of Judaism can be naturally integrated with traditional 12-step programs. Twelve-step programs do not focus on a particular religion and allow members to connect with a higher power of their choosing. Jewish scriptures encourage self-growth in the physical, mental, and spiritual domains of life, which can be nurtured through worship and prayer.

The Jewish 12-Step Program Is Aimed at Excavating the Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, and Intellectual Implications of Substance Addiction. The Jewish 12-Steps Are as Follows:

  1. Admitting that we have no power over the addiction and that it has taken an unmanageable turn
  2. Believe that there is a power far greater than our comprehension, that can restore us
  3. Make a conscious decision to turn our lives over to God in his perfection
  4. Take moral inventory of our lives
  5. Admitting our wrongs to God and to others
  6. Admit that we are ready to have our shortcomings taken away by God for good
  7. Ask God, with all humility, to remove our limitations
  8. Make a comprehensive list of people that we may have wronged or harmed in any way, and make things right with them
  9. Make it up to this set of people, except when trying to do so would be unhealthy physically, mentally, or emotionally
  10. Proceed with taking inventory of one’s self, admitting to wrongs
  11. Improve communication with God through fervent prayers and meditations
  12. Reaching the peak of spiritual awakening and practicing every step with others who are in the same condition as we were.

Chronic stress and addiction are indelibly linked. The Jewish traditions of prayer, contemplation and ethical action lend themselves to substance abuse treatment and relapse prevention by addressing daily stressors. The focal point of the faith, The Temple, serves as a source of strength and support. The sacred texts of the Jews, the Torah, and Talmud, include a number of resources to help people with substance use disorder cope with adversity and personal hardship.

Some of the Services and Programs That Support Recovery Include:

  • Spiritual counseling for individuals and families
  • Educational sessions on addiction treatment
  • Interventions( Psychiatric evaluation, crisis intervention, psychopharmacology)
  • 12-step meetings based on the Torah
  • Individual psychotherapy on behavioral control
  • Prayer and meditation practice based on religious scriptures
  • Family therapy and intervention
  • Workshops on ethics and morality related to abstinence
  • Group support therapy
  • Training for therapists working with Jews
  • Public outreach and education for Jews struggling with addiction

Inpatient drug rehabs for Jews offer a structured residential environment with a kosher diet. These programs are developed in Jewish traditions and dispel outdated myths to help prevent addiction in the early stages. They provide compassionate services that embrace the tenets of Judaism and are effective in recovery.

Benefits of Jewish Rehab Centers

There are several advantages of seeking addiction treatment at faith-based recovery facilities.

  • Faith-Based Rehab: These centers offer an opportunity for Jews to meet fellow people with substance use disorder. This gives people on recovery a sense of belonging and the chance to form deep connections. A Jewish drug rehab attracts people from the same background and those suffering from similar problems. Residents at inpatient Jewish drug rehab centers work with guidance counselors who use the teachings of the faith to give a sense of solidarity. In addition to the traditional detox, these programs offer counseling sessions based on religious philosophy as well as therapies that target the unique needs of people with substance use disorder who follow this faith.
  • Followup Care: Jewish rehabilitation facilities focus not only on a person’s addiction, but on the entire framework of self-worth, faith, spirituality, and identity which contribute to the individual’s overall sense of wellbeing. Treatment is carefully monitored and aftercare services are provided to prevent relapse. Graduates of Jewish rehabs are encouraged to attend follow-up meetings as they begin their journey in the real world outside the recovery facility.
  • Integration of Spirituality and Medical Treatment: In addition to the religious aspects of treatment, comprehensive Jewish rehab programs offer medical detox, individual and group therapy, research-based behavioral therapies, treatment for co-occurring mental health issues, relationship counseling, experiential therapies, and relapse prevention programs.
  • These facilities achieve their mission of helping people with substance use disorder get clean by instilling a renewed faith in religion. They encourage a greater conviction in the Jewish faith and life lessons and teachings that apply to rehabilitation. This integration of faith and evidence-based therapy has a positive effect on many people on recovery who follow Judaism. Those who do not have a Jewish background are also welcomed into the programs and benefit from the faith-based teachings along with standard addiction protocols.
  • Sponsorship and Networking: After an individual completes a recovery program successfully, they are encouraged to work with outreach specialists and sponsors as well as fellow people on recovery for a strong sense of identification with the Jewish faith. Community activities make it easier to stay in touch with people associated with recovery. The National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Information Center (NASAIC) sponsors Jewish rehab facilities and ensures they provide quality services, maintain accurate records, and offer a well-structured network.

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Published on: August 31st, 2016

Updated on: October 22nd, 2021

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.