What we learned in Winnipeg

What we learned in Winnipeg

Recently Jacob and I were invited to Winnipeg, Canada to speak to families, students, and those still struggling with addiction.

We learned that Winnipeg is at the very center of North America – a crossroads for all types of trafficking – sex, as well as drugs.

Regardless of crime or geography, what struck us most was how much we have in common with addiction.  We talked about what works, what doesn’t, and how much we still don’t know.

For many addicts recovery requires a “spiritual” – and not a religious – solution.  A belief in something “greater than yourself” helps to pull countless men and women out of despair.  Often I hear from families affected by addiction that religion is NOT helpful.  Sometimes it’s even off-putting.

During one of our sessions we spoke with a group of rabbis.  Two years ago we met with a similar group in South Florida.  The conversation was the same. How can we help religious leaders to help those who abuse drugs – and the families who love them?  Where is the link between religion and spirituality?

The rabbis asked good questions.  They were open.  They want to learn.

We offered these suggestions:

  • Keep learning. Read and attend community seminars about addiction.
  • Open your doors to support groups like AA and Al-Anon, NA and others.
  • Talk about addiction from the pulpit. Write about it in your weekly newsletters.
  • Know your local resources. Demonstrate that you are the kind of person who will listen and  direct people to the right professional help.
  • If possible, attend open AA meetings or Al-Anon meetings. Learn firsthand what “spiritual” recovery means.

And finally, offer hope.

Even in the freezing winter of a Winnipeg, the warmth of recovery is possible for those who seek it.


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