May 1, 2017
Bochurim Visit Addiction Center

Bochurim Shluchim in Montreal visited Chabad Lifeline crisis and addiction center to learn about the needs of their communities when they eventually head out on Shlichus.

A group of Bochurim Shluchim from Chabad of Cote St Luc recently visited Chabad Lifeline in order to be empowered and educated about the needs of their communities when they eventually head out on Shlichus.

Chabad Lifeline is a Chabad House in Montreal founded by Shliach Rabbi Ronnie Fine in 1989, and directed by Shluchim Rabbi Benyamin and Karen Bresinger, whose stated mission is to help everyone affected by addiction. People suffering from substance and behavioral addictions and their family members are guided through the process of healing and recovery.

The visit was organized after Rabbi Shmuel Shuchat, who heads the Semicha and Shlichus program in Cote St Luc, attended a presentation delivered to Montreal’s Shluchim by Rabbi Bresinger.

“We are privileged to have a Chabad House here in Montreal that deals with addiction and mental health,” Rabbi Shuchat said. “The visit was important because the Bochurim got to learn about what they may face when they eventually go out on Shlichus, and how they should approach it.”

“I think that the impact of a Shliach in any community is greatly enhanced by serving as a Mashpia for your Baalei Batim. You need to be able to know who you’re dealing with,” stressed Rabbi Bresinger. “And if you’re dealing with someone and there’s addiction or any illness, it doesn’t mean the relationship should be any less close. On the contrary."

"It’s Hashgacha Protis," he continued. "Here’s someone sent your way, who has addiction, mental illness or physical illnesses. It’s not that you should be the expert, but you should be able to create a safe place and relationship where they are comfortable confiding in you. You could help make Shidduchim with local professional resources.”

The Bochurim Shluchim were given a tour of Chabad Lifeline’s three storey complex, located on the campus of the Jewish General Hospital, with whom Lifeline works with on a regular basis. He led them through each office, and briefly described what role each of the 10 members of the team does. Then, Rabbi Bresinger delivered a presentation on addiction, defining it and encouraging the Bochurim to create a relationship where a Baal Habos will want to confide in the Shliach.

“When someone reveals to you something they’ve never revealed to anyone else, it can be life changing and life saving,” he explained.

According to a recent study titled “Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap," approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 – roughly equal to the entire population of Texas – are addicted to alcohol and drugs. That number rises when one includes process addictions such as gambling, eating, gaming, internet, and inappropriate behaviour.

“You need to let it be known that you’re a rabbi who is open to the problems of the world, recognizes that they exist, and that you are here for people struggling with addiction, providing non-judgmental support,” Rabbi Bresinger said. “You should speak openly about addiction so that the families who don’t talk about it because it’s stigmatized will feel more comfortable opening up.”

Rabbi Bresinger discussed the importance of developing relationships with professionals who can serve as resources for addicts. He often receives phone calls from Shluchim across the globe asking for advice after Baalei Batim open up about their vices and addictions, and has developed a sense for which organizations and professionals are trustworthy in this area, not only for the addicts themselves, but also to provide support for their children, spouses and parents.

He also stressed the importance of not only being a Mashpia to Baalei Batim, but getting your own Mashpia.

"The directive of Asei Lecha Rav is not just about having someone to call with Kashrus issues, but also to find someone who knows you so well that there are no secrets between you," said Rabbi Shuchat. "The same way people in your future community need to open up to you, you need to open up too.”

Following the visit, the Bochurim Shluchim reflected on what they had learned. “It was eye-opening for us as Shluchim,” said Israel Assouline, a Paris-born Bochur in the program where they do Shlichus work while studying for their Semichah. “We walked away from there with a practical understanding of how to make the world a better place, in dealing with all segments of the community.”

“It was a very important visit and relevant for people going out on Shlichus because if you don’t know about things that can be going on with people in your community, it can be damaging without you realizing,” added Rabbi Shuchat.

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Opinions and Comments
Yungerman addict
I am an addict in a 12 step program and I can tell you from experience the disease of addiction is far from simple.
There are 12 step programs out there and that is the ONLY solution for addicts.
Shluchim aren’t professionals and even the best training for years will not yield or make them qualified enough to be able to truly understand how the brain and emotions of an addict work.
(5/1/2017 1:19:03 PM)
saved my life
The 12 step program did wonders for me, for my wife, and for my family.
The professionals, the therapist, the other members in the program, they understand you, accept you, love you, and finally NOT JUDGMENTAL AT ALL. That is a main factor in the recovery process. Unfortunately, many community leaders do not understand the problem and do not understand the solution, and are very judgmental, which not only keeps back the victim from healing, but pushes him further into the addictive behavior, which can lead to suicide R"L. ONLY and ONLY the professionals in the particular area of the person's addiction should be dealing with an addict. A therapist who's expertise is in alcohol addiction should not treat a drug addict. Although the treatment for both are based on the same ideas, nevertheless you go to the expert in that particular area.
(5/1/2017 1:40:12 PM)
From an addict
Most people can benefit from a 12 step program.
There happen to be many Shluchim who themselves are addicts and they will tell you that no one is immune from this addiction business.
It can hit the holiest and most chassidish of people and the most successful businessmen and entrepenuers and zaidies and bubbies too.
I’m in these 12 step rooms and nothing shocks me anymore, I wouldn’t be surprised at the least to see my mashpia or mother there.
(5/1/2017 1:56:32 PM)
I'm a lust addict
I consider myself a normal chassidishe guy, but unfortunately I'm an addict.
I have put myself and my wife through a lot of suffering over the course of my addiction.
It's beyond complicated, and recovery is a lifelong and life changing way of living.
Without working the 12 steps there is no way for an addict to become sober on his own, if he does then it means hes not an addict.
Its pikuach nefesh for me to go to make sure to go to meetings and to work the program otherwise I'm a dead man walking, this is the truth.

Addicts are not regular people and are wired differently than the non-addict.
Therefore its imperative that only professionals who's expertise is in this specific field of addiction can treat and help the addict to become sober and ultimately get them in to a 12 step program without which he/she cant survive.

I can also reassure you that Shluchim can go through rigorous training for 30 years and still wont be qualified to deal with addiction.
Its a very complicated parsha on many many levels.

To spouses I will say the following: support your husband if you find out hes an addict. Don't throw him on the street, you're not helping yourself and not helping him. If he will admit that he has an issue and not denying it then work with him. Leaving him will make him and you suffer a lot more than if he goes in to recovery. Your marriage will suffer in the short term, but long term you will be much happier and this will bring you closer together in more ways than you can imagine.
In recovery he will get the tools on being a better husband, father, and human being.

Get him to go to a therapist or someone qualified in the field of addiction.
(5/1/2017 2:10:35 PM)
Addict majority of my life
Although I agree with above comments, shluchim should not be advising how to treat addicts, but this is a step in the right direction. Maybe this eye opener will help shape the next generation on how they want to lead and run their communities.

I grew up on shluchos and I've been given l'chaims by age of 7! In a secular world my parents and their shul would have been investigated. Vodka flowed freely and it was easy over the shabbos' to get access to more since the majority of the adults were too drunk to notice. Same with my home most guests expected the never ending flow of alcohol.

Once I moved away to yeshiva, the drinking only continued just more publicly because it was school approved. Passing out or vomiting at a fabreng was not a big deal regardless if I was under aged.

By the time I was married I was a full blown addict and alcohol was not enough and it definitely affected my marriage. When I tried to get help from rabbis and begged them to keep alcohol away from me, they only encouraged me saying that on shabbos it doesn't count. There's plenty of not Jewish alcoholics or teens who frequent chabad houses to get mashka.

It's is a life long disease that I'm still dealing with. I can't go to a chabad shul anymore it's too tempting, as was advised by many Lubavitchers who've ive encountered in AA over the years who've had similar stories.

Maybe this will help the next generation think twice before letting Lchaim's flow freely or encourage underage drinking. Let chabad not only be known for our alcohol consumption let's try to bring people closer other ways.
(5/1/2017 3:15:33 PM)
Reb S, Shuchat!!
Good working hard fellow (shliach) keep it up!
Another 9 of you and Moshiach is here!!!
(5/1/2017 5:07:20 PM)
This is serious major training is needed
I once frequented a chabad house that boasted having a drug prevention program, not only was this false, the only reason they did it was too get city money.

When I actually needed help from them I was let in on the secret, I couldn't believe that they'd even advertise this on their site giving false hope to those in need.

Addiction is not a money making scheme, but a life and death situation for many. Major education is needed by rabbis, they should not be treating anash but be able to recommend a place to go.

It's interesting most AA NA etc meetings are in churches, why are there not more shul options for meetings?
(5/1/2017 5:14:09 PM)
There Is 100% zero issue to going to meetings in a church.
Ask any rov he will tell you it's fine.
1) if you belong going to a meeting then it's pikuach nefesh
2) meetings are never in the actual sanctuary so there is no issue at all.
3) depends where you live. Where I'm from they're not only in churches. There are plenty of meetings in other places as we'll.
(5/1/2017 7:22:08 PM)
The Bresinger's are the finest and the best
Saving one life is like saving the world !
The Bressinger's are true examples of Shluchim of the Rebbe
Saving countless of life's throughly skill, love and care
Most respected through Canada for their flagship work
Wishing them the best in doing the holy work where others don't want to go - yesher koiach Rabbi Binyomin and Karen
(5/1/2017 8:31:38 PM)
I think Rabbi Bresinger’s point was exactly what the first few commenters said. He is suggesting that shluchim contact him or find a professional – and NOT chas veshalom to try and help the addict alone.

I think he was also espousing that shluchim be aware that there will be addicts in each community, and create an environment where congregants will be comfortable opening up and allowing the shliach to guide the addict to a proper program.

It's a lot better than denying the problem exists and/or avoiding the topic completely.
(5/2/2017 8:13:49 AM)
to number 4
I very much relate to what you say.
I'm also an addict and I'm a Shliach myself, I cant save myself.
I am realizing that no one is immune from this.
I consider myself mekushar to the Rebbe and learn chassidus with my baalei batim and have kviusin with some classmates over the phone and unfortunately I'm in active addiction and my family life as well as my shlichus are at risk of being lost entirely as well as many relationships that I've cultivated and nurtured over the last many number of years because of this disease.
The bottom line is that there is very little help for addicts outside of twelve step meetings and therapists, and of course a rehab center for detox.
(5/2/2017 12:00:46 PM)
These shluchim- Rabbi and Mrs Bresinger, do incredible work.
they are, without a doubt, the real deal. Reliable and extremely knowledgeable in this area.
(5/2/2017 1:11:40 PM)
Amazing work!!!!
Chabad lifeline has many professionals with degrees and years of training and experience. They do amazing work and the community is lucky to have such an organization that helps so many.
(5/2/2017 3:44:42 PM)
Yiras Shomayim
I am a BT Ben Torah and have gotten into plenty of trouble with alcohol, food etc. Luckily I promised my mother A"H not to try "hard drugs" and stuck with "soft drugs" I kept the promise so I have no knowledge there. I do have knowledge of the lure of strange philosophy and fooling around in all senses of the word, which caused my downfalls within the "rooms". These are things which are comparatively harmless for the nations, as proved by the AA founders.
My $0.02 is that the even after reciting perek 41 thousands of times I did not acknowledge my fear of being watched, even (especially) by G-d. What the books didn't teach, the years did. IMHO Yiras Shomayim IS the spiritual experience. It has been revealed that the knowledge that G-d is watching us for the purpose of helping us. Perhaps someone can supply the reference for this, probably from Dvar Malchus.

(5/4/2017 2:05:09 PM)
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