Substance abuse disorders affected 20.8 million Americans-almost 8 percent of our adolescent and adult population*, which is comparable to the rate for diabetes and more than 1.5 times the rate for all cancers combined. Certainly, no faith denomination or spiritual path is exempt from this plague. The General Convention directs dioceses to work in partnership with The Episcopal Church Medical Trust, Recovery Ministries of The Episcopal Church, and community-based organizations to most effectively address prevention, intervention/diversion, education, advocacy, treatment, and recovery.
The Diocese of Pennsylvania has long championed these efforts, and we now call for the revitalization of the Addiction Resource Recovery Committee. The Rev. Richard Vinson (Trinity, Solebury) and Martin McElroy (St. Peter’s in the Great Valley) have been tasked with creating a network of dedicated and knowledgeable persons throughout the Diocese to make a real difference. To that end, We encourage every parish to appoint a Recovery Advocate as a link to this network, and a resource to the parish, to address the entire spectrum of addictions. Parish Recovery Advocates need not be in recovery personally, but should be versed in and committed to education, prevention, intervention, treatment and sustained recovery.
If you have questions, or wish to introduce your parish’s Recovery Advocate to the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania’s Addiction Resource Recovery Network, please contact The Rev. Richard Vinson at 215 297-5234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please help us convey Christ’s compassionate healing through educational, clinical and spiritual resources to those among us who are desperate for a reprieve from addiction and restoration to health, wholeness and faith.
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
The Rev. Richard Vinson
Chair of Recovery Ministries Committee
* Surgeon General’s report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health
Re-commissioned in 2007 by Bishop Bennison, the Addiction Resource Recovery Committee has updated the diocesan Alcohol and Drug Policy and will act as a resource for education and treatment information about alcohol/drug dependency and recovery. The last page of the diocesan policy is a set of guidelines for parishes about the serving of alcoholic beverages at parish functions.
The Addiction Recovery Resource Committee (ARRC) was formed to supplement and enhance the support services of the Diocese. We hope to bring a 21st century understanding to perhaps the most troublesome health issue confronting our nation—addiction to alcohol and other mood altering chemicals.
Medical research has indicated that addiction is a disease associated with biochemical changes in the brain. It is an inherited disease, not a learned behavior. Rehabilitation programs are available, and in combination with follow up counseling and group therapy, have proven to be an effective treatment for addiction.
As this program evolves, educational presentations will be available for Deanery meetings as well as Adult Forum meetings in local congregations.
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
Two phrases used by writers reveal the critical nature of the crisis. We are a Drinking Culture. We are an alcohol culture. Did you know that one out of every eight Americans has a significant problem with alcohol or other mood altering drugs? That translates to 27 million persons either using illicit drugs on a regular basis, or consuming alcohol in sufficient quantities to be designated as “heavy drinkers.” The estimated annual cost resulting from substance abuse is 250 billion dollars. It is generally accepted that chemical dependency, along with associated mental health disorders, has become one of the most severe health and social problems facing the United States.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
In this field certain words are used interchangeably such as addict, alcoholic, chemically dependent. These words are meant to identify a person who is addicted to alcohol and/or other mood altering chemicals.
THE DANGER TO YOUTH
Forty percent of the Persons who begin drinking alcohol before age 15 years will become alcoholics. As it stands now, by age eighteen almost 12 percent of that population are illicit drug users.
ARE YOU AN ENABLER?
Under the umbrella of unconditional love, many of us fall into the trap of being an enabler. An addicted person is interested in only one thing—getting the next drink or fix. They will tell you what you want to hear as long as you continue to provide money to feed The Addict within them. They will keep you at arms length, play on your guilt, take advantage of your gullibility, and convince you that the money is going for anything but drugs. The loving response is to refuse to cave to The Addict.
When families, friends, colleagues finally “get it,” they begin considering how an addict can be helped. The objective is treatment or rehabilitation. The most helpful next step is a well-planned Intervention. Enablers gather to redefine for the addict their future level of support, which will depend on whether the person will enter a treatment facility.
SUPPORT TO FAMILIES
During these very hectic times of moving from an enabling posture through Intervention to rehabilitation, the Addiction Resources and Recovery Committee will provide counseling and information to assist family members in the planing and executing interventions, locating an appropriate rehabilitation facility, and a limited amount of one-on-one counseling.