Addiction can affect anyone, regardless of race, religion, nationality or socioeconomic status. Jewish communities have a problem with addiction and substance abuse just like any other. However, many people in Jewish communities are resistant to the idea that addiction is a problem. The good news is that things are changing. There are Jewish alcohol and drug rehab centers that can help people overcome their addictions. And many more rehabilitation centers offer 12-step programs for people of all faiths and spiritual backgrounds.

Addiction in Jewish Communities

Some people in the Jewish community believe that Jews can’t be affected by drugs and alcohol abuse, but this is far from the truth. However, there is limited data on rates of addiction in Jewish communities. And the denial of addiction means it’s hard to get an exact idea of how big the problem is. This is partly because it’s a subject people avoid talking about. This contributes to stigma that prevents many people from seeking help for substance abuse.

A survey carried out in one Jewish community found that addiction is certainly a problem. The results showed that more than 20% of Jewish people have a family history of addiction. And nearly twice as many Jewish people know someone who has been affected by addiction, even if they themselves don’t have a family history. The same study found that about 13% of the population in Israel has used drugs in their lifetime.

The truth is that Jewish people are just as likely to suffer from addiction as anyone else. But the traditional Jewish belief that the body belongs to God and should not be purposefully harmed has many people in denial. Thankfully, more Jewish communities are becoming more aware of the problem and are seeking help. The increasing prevalence of Jewish drug rehabilitation centers (or treatment centers that cater to all faiths) is another vital step in helping people get the treatment they need.

Jewish Alcohol and Drug Rehab: What Does It Mean?

Attending a rehab center is important for anyone who is struggling with addiction. An effective rehab program will tie in elements that can work for any faith, including those who practice Judaism. In many skilled treatment programs, clients do not necessarily need to be Jewish and programs may not be specifically tailored to the Jewish faith.

Often, a Jewish rehab center is simply one where the 12-step approach is used as a core part of recovery. Using the 12-step program is ideal because it incorporates spiritual elements but isn’t specifically bound to one faith in particular. If faith-based treatment is important to you, the 12-steps can work, whether you’re Jewish or not.

Twelve-step therapy is ideal for the needs of a Jewish alcohol or drug abuser. However, the steps themselves don’t address the detox process. A center using the 12-step approach might base its main program on the steps and offer medically-assisted detox as well. This ensures that people can safely get clean and sober before starting on the more challenging aspects of addiction.

In the best rehabilitation centers, there is usually more to treatment than the 12-step program. More traditional approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy will often be used. Complementary therapies and other non-traditional interventions may also be involved. The key part of the process is that faith can play a strong role in each individual’s recovery process.

The 12 Steps in Jewish Recovery

The 12-step approach is most famously associated with Alcoholics Anonymous. This approach is also used by people with other addictions, such as drugs and gambling. If you want a rehab center where your beliefs can play a role in your recovery, a program that incorporates this approach is a good start.

A rehab that caters to different faiths (including Judaism) will almost always use the 12 steps as part of its treatment approach. The 12-step program is based on the fundamental idea that you are powerless over your addiction, and you can only overcome it with the support of a higher power. Many of the steps rely on having a relationship with God or with a higher power. When you follow the 12-steps, you:

  • Believe that a higher power can help you manage your addiction
  • Decide to put the problem in God’s care
  • Admit your mistakes to God
  • Humbly ask God to remove your shortcomings
  • Seek a closer relationship with God
  • Have a spiritual awakening with the completion of the steps

The above is a short version of what happens throughout 12-step treatment, largely through group counseling sessions. These steps are well-suited to Jewish alcohol and drug rehab, so it’s no surprise that it’s the most common approach used. The process is all about accepting your flaws and developing a closer relationship with God.

Many rehabs use the 12-step program. This includes centers that are focused specifically on the Jewish faith, and those that do not cater to any faith in particular. The 12-step program is a very common part of rehab center treatment and has helped countless individuals overcome their addictions. You can incorporate this spiritually-focused approach into your personal recovery, even if you don’t attend a Jewish rehab.

Addiction Affects Jewish People Too, So Let’s Tackle It

Despite the myths persisting in some Jewish communities, the truth is that Jewish people are affected by addiction just like people of any other faith or community. The true challenge is overcoming addiction and improving mental health.

Finding a rehab that offers the 12 steps can help you do that while respecting the core tenets of your faith. It’s a long road ahead, but you have the support of your community and God’s word to guide you. This may be just what you need to get clean and make positive changes in your life.


Choose a better life. Choose recovery.