My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Addiction continues to be a pervasive problem in America. Locally, we have seen the negative impact of alcohol and substance abuse on our parish families and communities. This is why I requested Catholic Charities and the Program for the Development of Human Potential (PDHP) to collaborate in developing a response to this problem. Together, these two diocesan agencies developed the Diocesan Alcohol and Substance Abuse Assistance Program which is now up and running. We are happy to report that since the program's inception, local parishioners have called and been connected to the resource they or their loved ones need in order to deal with problems of addiction.
They have been linked to a network of over 30 service providers that collectively offer a broad range of response to the different needs of individuals and families who suffer the effects of addiction. This service network includes programs from all over the city that specialize in various types of treatment as well as in particular populations: youth or adults, men or women, and some that offer services in multiple languages such as English and Spanish, Russian or Polish.
In order to access this network of reputable service providers, one only needs to place a confidential call to the Substance Abuse hotline: (800) 659-1603. The number has been regularly publicized in parish bulletins, and each time this is announced, a flurry of calls is received at the Catholic Charities Flatbush Addiction Treatment Center where the hotline number is based. People from our Diocese have called either to request information about Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous (AA/NA) meetings, to inquire about how to recognize the signs of substance abuse in a loved one, or to request referrals to specific inpatient and outpatient treatment services. These referrals are made to the network of service providers that the Substance Abuse Program has done a great job of assembling. Calls have come from concerned family members as well as from caring parish staff. I urge anyone who has any concerns about addiction to make a confidential call to the Substance Abuse hotline. This may be the most important call you make! For more information about the Diocesan Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program, go to the Catholic Charities Web site: http://www.ccbq.org/.
September marks the 18th annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. We are reminded that recovery from alcohol and substance abuse in all its forms is possible. In connection with this, we will be united with two national events aimed at promoting the importance of recovery efforts: Recovery Sunday, a special day of prayer for those in recovery from addictive illnesses, and Family Day, when families are encouraged to share a meal together as a helpful deterrent to substance abuse and other destructive behavior. The Diocese of Brooklyn has designated September 23-24 as Recovery Sunday and Family Day respectively. Brochures and information about Recovery Sunday and Family Day have been mailed out to all the parishes.
Recovery Sunday marks the annual day of prayer for all those struggling with, and in recovery from, addictive illnesses. Addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling and relationships are among those that require treatment and our prayers. The consequences of these untreated illnesses affect us in all areas of our lives.
Monday, September 24, is designated as Family Day, when families are encouraged to take the time to share a meal together and communicate with one another. Research shows that children who regularly eat together with their families are more likely to communicate openly and are less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs.
I continue to be deeply concerned about the prevalence of addiction in our communities. Statistics tell us that half of all Americans have family histories of addictive illness, 18 million people struggle with alcoholism, six million with other drugs, and another six million people struggle with gambling.
The effects of addiction on family and community are far-reaching. The cost to individuals and society is incalculable. Violent and property crimes are frequently associated with alcohol and drug abuse. There is much suffering in families where a member abuses alcohol or drugs. We must remember, however, that addiction is an illness — an illness that is treatable! The person who is suffering from the illness of alcohol or substance abuse deserves our compassion, support and prayers.
To seek help with addictions in all forms is an exercise of "putting out into the deep." Join me in prayer for all who struggle with addictions of any kind so that the Lord may grant them the grace of recovery.