Some Sobering Facts About Addiction

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By Zvi Gluck together with Menachem Poznanski LCSW

We lost another promising young life this week.  To be honest, I am at a loss for words.

I have been shouting from the rooftops for months that we need to find a way to stop this plague and while we have seen some improvements, we buried a  beautiful 22 year old this week. Clearly whatever we are doing just isn’t enough.  Because 22 year olds aren’t supposed to die.  Their parents are supposed to be thinking about escorting them to the chupah, not accompanying them to their graves.

But here we are again.

This week, I want to try something different.  I want to shine the spotlight on the similarities between the more than 55 deaths from drug overdoses that we have seen this year in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, we can save a life.

There is a lot of emphasis on getting people who abuse drugs into rehab but after that the positive momentum just fizzles out.  People who have cancer undergo extensive treatment and go into remission but the story doesn’t end there.  Their physicians monitor them regularly to make sure that they don’t relapse.

If only we had the same kind of stick-to-it-tiveness for those who suffer from addiction.  We send them to rehab and pronounce them cured, not realizing that addiction is a lifelong battle.  Getting an addict sober is just one step in a very long journey, and it takes the concerted efforts of family and friends to make sure they stay sober, even when life throws them curveballs.

In the case of the 55+ deaths we have seen this year, they have occurred in people who have been through rehab and gotten sober. So what happened?  What leads to relapse and why is relapse so dangerous?

There are many factors that contribute to why a relapse is especially dangerous for an Addict.  One thing to understand, is that when someone develops a dependency on drugs, their body builds up a tolerance. As  result they need to up their dosage to get the same high.  After treatment like rehab and a period of abstinence, their body reverts to a healthier state, this amounts to a reduction in tolerance.  If a relapse into using occurs, things turn deadly. When they slip back into their unhealthy behaviors, they generally do so at their most recent, higher dose.  Their brains do not process or  realize that their bodies are physically incapable of handling that dosage.

Another significant factor is distress and hopelessness.  When an addict invests in a process of recovery they have to put their whole heart into it.  Their life and their hopes ride on staying clean and getting better.  They build friendships with other sober and clean friends and everyone around them is proud and grateful that they made it.  Then when a relapse occurs it can feel like their whole life has fallen apart, they have disappointed everyone who loves them and they can’t imagine facing their loved ones and friends.  This despondency, mixed with a natural impulse for more, creates a dangerous situation.  When an addict, or anyone for that matter, loses hope in life they will take risks, especially if it means a few moments of peace.  In these situations the addict doesn’t realize they are putting their life in danger or even want to, they simply don’t care.

Its critical for all to understand that these people didn’t choose to die, or even intentionally choose to put their lives in danger, or even become addicts in the first place. They are suffering and they need our help and our continuous support.  Addiction is a sickness. In some cases, people become addicted as they try to cope with a history of abuse or trauma.  In other instances, a person who started taking painkillers after an accident finds themselves unable to live without them.  Most times there are many factors that lead a person to addiction.

What can be done to prevent these tragic deaths?

  • We need to make sure addicts and their families realize relapse is an unfortunate reality. Long term sustainable recovery is possible but sometimes relapse happens before you get there.
  • Addicts need to know it’s not okay to relapse, but they will never be judged shamed or shunned for having a relapse. They need to be welcomed back with love and acceptance, as long as they are serious about getting back up.  And if not, they still need to be loved and accepted, only perhaps from with some distance or boundaries.
  • More information needs to be provided to addicts in recovery about relapse, that if they or their friends in recovery ever slip back they must be careful about dosage and amounts, that their life literally depends on it.
  • Addicts must understand that the first 48 hours after a relapse is the most dangerous time in the life of an addict.
  • We need to encourage recovering addicts to attend support meetings on a regular basis and to maintain close relationships with healthy supports. To reach out if they are feeling urges and especially to reach out if a relapse has happened.
  • We need to be there for those who suffer from addiction when they falter and avoid putting temptation in their path. No one should ever offer a recovering alcoholic a shot of alcohol at a kiddush so that they can make a l’chaim. That l’chaim can take them all the way back to square one.

As a community we need to be honest with ourselves and realize that this problem is in our midst.  We have to give up the ridiculous notion that we shouldn’t send those with addictions to rehab because “someone might find out.” I promise you, when someone dies because they didn’t get the help they needed everyone finds out.

It’s not just enough to get people sober – we need to keep them sober.

It’s not just enough to keep people sober – we need to give them a reason to live.

It’s not just enough to give people a reason to live – we need to give their lives meaning.

And maybe, just maybe, if we can do that, this epidemic will finally stop.

Zvi Gluck is the founder and director of Amudim Community Resources, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims and those suffering with addiction within the Jewish community and has been heavily involved in crisis intervention and management for the past 15 years.  For more information go to

Menachem Poznanski, LCSW is the Clinical Director of The Living Room, a recovery clubhouse and community center for Jewish young adult addicts.  TLR serves 200+ recovering addicts across the greater NYC Area and Monsey.  If you or a loved one are in or are seeking recovery and want information about The Living Room email: or call 917-596-0784



  1. There is a support group run by JACS of Toronto for frum mothers of addicts, of every age and in every stage of addiction. We have learned how crucial it is for us, as parents, to be educated, in order to help our kids and ourselves. As uncomfortable and difficult as is was to join initially, we all find that it is a lifeline for us and has helped us help our kids. We need these all over the frum world, unfortunately. And for those who can access a service like this, it is critical to do so. Don’t let fear or shame deprive you of this real assistance. We all understand. We’ve been there.

  2. these kids need to be identified as soon as “someone” sees an issue – any kid should not be depressed – and anyone who sees something SAY SOMETHING to someone or say a gut vort to this kid – a gut morgen – a smile – a pat on the back – to cheer them up. HASHEM YERACHEIM

  3. I’ve been through addiction myself, and have come out of it, been RECOVERED, there is a solution. However many don’t see that the secular programs/rehabs have a statistical success rate of less then 4%! Yet we keep sending to them as supposed to Torah and the twelve steps which has the original AA solution which was founded in 1939, before it was watered down by rehabs in order to bill insurance by saying addiction is a medical problem rather them a spiritual problem as we know it to be a spiritual malady and therefore its a spiritual solution, very simple. Torah and The Twelve steps has the solution and has been helping so many Jewish ppl recover and not fall back, please call me for further information at 8482380976 Hashem yaazor.

  4. Hello, my name is Shlomo and I myself was deep in in drug addiction I have been to numerous places to try to get help. Inpatient rehabs, outpatient rehabs, therapists and drug counselers. Every single place failed except one. I was relapsing quite often. I then came down to a program in Miami called Torah and The Twelve steps. The program saved my life, often I am asked what is different about this program then the several other ones you were in previously. The difference is every other place said it was a medical problem but here in Miami I found it was a spiritual problem. Now everyone agrees that the 12 steps work, the places I was in and from what my friends have told me from places they have been is they tell you to prevent the relapse from happening. The first step says” We admitted we were powerless over alcohol” if an addict is able to prevent a relapse then he is not powerless. The secular rehabs completely contradict the first step in recovery. Besides that fact they have a 3 or 4% success rate, all the people in the program that I was in who went to step 9 in the past 5 years have NOT relapsed in fact they are almost all bnai Torah now. The thing that aggravates me the most is that people continue to send to secular programs I keep hearing we have to do something to prevent the deaths that are occurring. What is everyone doing about it because Jewish boys and girls are still being sent to secular programs which clearly are not solving the problem. I took upon myself after hear the amount of people that have passed away some I knew some I did not to reach out to all Jewish communities and spread the fact that there is a Torah based solution a permanent solution. I keep hearing names of people who are big in helping addicts if they are so many people helping then why do Jewish boys and girls have to continue to die due to drug addiction.

    If there are any questions please contact me my cell phone is available 24/7
    Shlomo – 305-849-9978

    Below I will post a link to the programs website you can find a video clip there of rabbi Ronnie greenwald ztl speaking about the program

    And this is a link to hear rabbi zweig speak about the program please watch

  5. The death toll in the Jewish community due to addiction is staggering and a tragedy. To add onto this problem is the fact that certain people persist on sending our children to secular rehabs besides for the fact that the success rates there are close to zero, they also lose their identity of being a Jew, and can’t stop relapsing. I myself went through addiction and came close to death on numerous occasions and could not do anything to stop using, until the program i went to offered me a solution. Instead of focusing on my human resources to stop which were insufficient, they focused on the underlying problem, the problem of being spiritually sick. Through the 12 step process integrated with Torah principals which allowed me to get spiritually healthy, i have not had a single thought to use nor am i ever worried about relapsing because it is not a part of my life anymore. Through this process we become regular members of society and WE RECOVER from addiction with the help of Hashem and live healthy lives. This process saved my life and it iv’e seen it work 100% to anyone who worked all with the result always the same. So to answer the questions of the article above, yes there is a Torah based solution and Jewish kids do not have to die anymore as long as we open our eyes and accept that despite all the prestigious names and reputations of some of these secular programs, their human and medical resources cannot solve this spiritual problem, but we do have a place that can. If you have any questions please feel free to call 8455480471 at any time

  6. Former addicts are claiming that “torah and the 12 steps” is the only answer. I’ve spoken to a parent who sent his son there ($6,000 per month) and said it was the only thing that worked for his kid as well. At all other rehabs, the relapse rate is extremely high, there the majority of clients never relapse. A well known therapit in Lakewood visited the place (in miami) and told me he was extremely impressed by how his former clients were doing. Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald a’h endorsed and spoke on behalf of the place.

  7. I myself was an addict battling for years with drug and alcohol abuse. I’ve been to therapy/drug counseling for a while before I found a real solution..The reason I’m posting this is very simply to tell the truth as someone who’s been through it rather then guessing from seeing things. The reality is THERE IS A SOLUTION. This is not a new phenomenon or my own idea. Very simply the solution lies within our own Torah values…before this gets thrown out bec I mentioned Torah I think we need to very strongly consider that we have the solution instead of running to secular rehabs which themselves say they don’t have a real solution and that you very likely will relapse.its sad bec I’ve seen very close friends die from the same drugs that we were using together…the dif was I found the real solution through hashem which isn’t my own concept the Torah makes a promise..if you do true teshuva your previous problems even addiction are possible to be beat..unfortunately I’ve seen friends pass away base off the advice of “the leaders of the generation” to run to secular based rehabs which really don’t offer a solution other then they get them good insurance plans for it and addicts are desperate for any chance to finally get clean.ive been there. What I would strongly suggest is to look into a program in Miami called Torah and the 12 steps…I am not promoting this program bec I will get money for it or insurance benefits the reason I’m writing this is bec I recovered there. I am no longer and addict. The proof is in the graduates who all stay sober and are productive members of society..if u don’t believe me speak to us yourself


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