Jewish Alcohol Rehabs: Alcoholism Facilities And Approaches

Last Updated: August 8, 2019

jewish alcohol rehab

In the world of alcohol rehabilitation, faith-based recovery options are incredibly common. From support groups in churches to rehabilitation centers that focus on scripture, it isn’t hard to find recovery assistance with a focus on religion. However, the majority of these options are Christian, which can leave Jewish individuals struggling to find care that is both spiritual and in line with their beliefs.

Ultimately, Jewish alcohol rehab options do exist—they are just harder to find. For those who are interested in Jewish alcohol rehab, it is important to understand what these programs offer and how to access them.

What Is Jewish Alcohol Rehab?

Alcohol rehab centers for Jewish people are not so different from those based in other religions or those that are secular. They utilize the same therapies and setups, and their practices are backed by the same research. The difference is that their program is also informed by the Jewish faith and embraces it as a way to help their patients get on the road to recovery.

What this looks like can vary between Jewish alcohol rehab centers. It can mean consulting Jewish texts for strength and guidance, placing extra focus on Jewish values, and observing various Jewish traditions, both orthodox and reformed.
These programs do tend to have at least two things in common: they keep kosher and observe Shabbat.

Alcohol rehab for Jewish people is designed to meet the needs of a population that has long been underserved within the recovery community. However, it is an uphill battle for many, given the stigma that surrounds addiction within many Jewish communities.

Alcoholism Within Jewish Communities

Many believe that Jewish people cannot suffer from addiction. There are two reasons for this belief. First, a core belief within Judaism is that the body belongs to God and should not be purposefully harmed. As such, some reason that one cannot both be an addict and faithfully practice Judaism. Second, scientific studies have found that a large portion of the Jewish community has a DNA mutation that guards against alcoholism.

This belief that Jewish people cannot be addicts has had a significant impact on Jewish alcohol treatment and the health of Jewish people in need of help. It contributes to the lack of Jewish alcoholism rehab options and a general lack of awareness within the community. Ultimately, addiction is present in Jewish people, with about one in five having a family history of addiction.

Another compounding factor that makes it harder for Jewish people to get help with addiction is that society at large tends to have a specific idea of what an alcoholic is. The media tends to portray alcoholics as dirty, unstable, and heavily reliant on hard liquor. Alcoholics within the Jewish community are often what can be termed “functional alcoholics”—individuals who keep up appearances even while suffering from addiction. Also, they tend to abuse wine more than other forms of alcohol. Since wine is a religious symbol within Judaism and drunk even at young ages, it can make it harder for people to see abuse when it is present.

All of this contributes to a heavy stigma against addiction within the Jewish community, placing an additional barrier in front of those wishing to get help. However, a quality Jewish alcohol treatment center will assist patients in getting past the shame so they can live a healthier life.

Treatment in Jewish Alcohol Rehabs

The first thing to understand about Jewish alcoholism rehab is that it is going to be faith-based. This means that there will be at least some degree of focus on worship and fellowship as informed by Judaism. Because there is more than one way of following the Jewish faith, different centers will take different approaches to religion.

Jewish alcohol rehabs, like other faith-based rehabs, often divide their patients based on gender, at least for some of their therapies and for their housing. As such, their approach to alcohol rehab for men tends to be a bit different from their alcohol rehab for women. In some cases, men and women may be treated at completely different facilities.

The majority of centers offering Jewish alcoholism treatment utilize a modified version of the 12-step program. At the heart of the 12-step approach is the idea that humans alone cannot beat addiction; they require the assistance of a higher power.
While this approach was developed with a Christian perspective, it is easily adapted to the Jewish faith and fits well within the traditional values of the religion.

In addition to 12-step group therapy sessions, Jewish alcohol rehab incorporates a wide variety of treatment methods. These can include:

  • Residential Treatment: Where the patient lives at the facility for a given length of time, receiving intensive treatment.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Where the patient lives off-site but comes to the center for sessions.
  • Detox: The procedure in which the patient rids their body of alcohol under doctor supervision, following the alcohol detox timeline.
  • Holistic Therapy: Holistic alcohol treatment means treating the full individual: their mental, physical, and spiritual health.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Done in individual therapy sessions, this focuses on developing short-term coping skills that allow the patient to remain sober.
  • Dual-Diagnosis Therapy: Used when the patient has an underlying disorder contributing to their addiction, such as depression or anxiety.
  • Families Alcohol Rehab: Used to help address dysfunctional family dynamics that drive addiction.

Ultimately, just as Jewish faith and identity are varied, so are Jewish alcoholism treatment options. It is up to the patient to find the one best suited to their needs.

Alcohol Rehabilitation and Jewish Spiritual Traditions

The primary purpose of selecting a Jewish faith-based rehabilitation center over a secular center is to get the chance to both enter recovery and connect more deeply with faith. As such, these centers are designed to make it easy for patients to connect with their spiritual traditions. It is common for them to revolve around four core values:

  • Kavod: Reconnecting with the idea of giving respect to and recognizing the dignity within all that God creates, including ourselves.
  • Simcha: Finding joy in Jewish meaning and all aspects of life.
  • Tzmicha I’shit: Viewing challenges as a vehicle for growth and transformation.
  • Kehilla: Developing a great connection that which is larger than the self—the Jewish community, the Torah, the natural world, and God.

Other things to expect are kosher practices, guidance from spiritual leaders, Sabbath observance, Jewish holiday observances, and cultural competency training for the staff.

jewish men in Jerusalem

Benefits of Jewish Alcohol Rehabs

Given that secular rehabs are easier to find than Jewish rehabs, why should a Jewish person seek out faith-based recovery? Ultimately, that answer is a personal one. However, there are many known benefits to faith-based recovery programs. These include:

  • Giving the patient additional motivation for pursuing recovery
  • Fill the void they attempted to fill with addiction with something positive
  • Feeling a sense of accountability to something larger
  • Tying the patient to the community
  • Giving the patient more people to turn to when struggling, such as faith leaders
  • Focusing on more than just the physical aspects of addiction
  • Removing the shame, they might feel about being both religious and addicted

For any Jewish person who is experiencing their addiction as a mental, physical, and spiritual battle, faith-based recovery can provide the ideal path to a better life.

How to Choose a Jewish Alcohol Rehab

Selecting a Jewish alcohol rehab center is similar to choosing a rehab center in general. The patient needs to think about exactly what they want from treatment and then look for the centers that meet their needs. Some criteria to consider are:

  • The approach to Judaism the center takes
  • What treatment types are offered
  • If they use medications to treat alcoholism
  • What their staff credentials are
  • What licenses they hold
  • If the patient needs residential or outpatient care
  • The aftercare programs used to prevent relapse
  • The availability of dual diagnosis treatment
  • The location of the center

As with any form of medical treatment, it is vital that the patient finds the option that proves to be the best fit for them.

Despite the stigma and misconceptions surrounding addiction in the Jewish community, it is imperative that any Jewish person battling addiction seek help. Ultimately, addiction is not a matter of moral failing, but a disease that can and should be fought. The right Jewish alcohol rehab is out there and ready to offer the treatment needed.


Gregory Okhifun

Dr. Gregory Okhifun

Medical Reviewer

Dr. Okhifun is a passionate medical doctor, with over five years’ experience as a general practitioner. His passion for medical education led to his journey in medical writing. He has a wealth of experience writing for hospitals and medical centers, health organizations, telemedicine platforms, wellness organizations, medical tourism publications, addiction websites, and websites focused on nutrition and nutraceuticals.
He also serves as medical coordinator and content writer for Gerocare Solutions, for which he also volunteers as a health advisor/consultant for the elderly.
Dr. Okhifun enjoys traveling, meditation, and reading.

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