This reality necessitated strong cohesiveness within the community. Alcoholism represented a loss of personal control that could threaten the security of the entire community, therefore, the alcoholic would not find support or acceptance within the community.
Alcohol Abuse by Jews
One of two things would occur: either the alcoholic would stop the behavior, in which case communal support would be provided; or the alcoholic would leave the community. We know that one of the obstacles that a person seeking recovery must deal with is to avoid transferring addictions by stopping one addiction only to find solace in another form of the disease. Historically, I believe, the Jewish addict was able to transfer the addiction into a form that was less threatening and more acceptable to the community.
I further believe that the fact that both Gamblers Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous were founded by a disproportionate number of Jews is not a coincidence. Gambling and food were acceptable addictions within the community, to the extent that obesity was equated with prosperity and wealth. Another interesting phenomenon is that while alcoholism was unacceptable to the Jewish community, no such prohibition existed with regard to the use of other drugs.
WHY JEWS DON'T GET DRUNK
As drug experimentation became the thing to do in the s and s, young Jews, who would never think of public intoxication, had no taboo against drug use. The normal progression of the disease that we see in treatment, when taking a drug history, is to find that the individual first began to drink alcohol, progressed to marijuana, and then on to other chemicals. In Jewish addicts, very often, the history begins with other drugs, and then, in later stages, may turn to alcohol. In the early s, I had the opportunity to work with recent immigrants to the State of Israel.
In the immigrant communities, alcoholism was a major issue. Coming from my sociological training, I understood that the primary factors contributing to this were the feelings that developed among the mature population.
The male immigrant was faced with feelings of displacement in a new country. Use either button below or manually enter your email address further down to sign up for our e-newsletter. Doing so will instantly unlock this article, which is otherwise reserved for paying subscribers only.
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