Drugs in Our Community: Everyone's scope of practice

Thursday, 30 November, 2017 - 10:41 am

Rabbi Mordechai Z. Hecht,

Warning: Explicit: not intended for all audiences.

I can share with you my experience from back in my Rabbinical college days when one of my colleagues would snort “coke” and then decide to beat me up. (I'm fine;)

Or, my colleague who would get drink and do the same.

Or my close relative who would get drunk, throw-up, and do it all over again.

Or, perhaps I can tell you of a fellow community member who lost their only daughter, a drug abuser – or “owned by her addiction”, in a very unfortunate way.

Or, I can tell you of various colleagues who destroyed their marriages because of Drug & Alcohol abuse.

Or, should I tell you the story of an acquaintance of mine - son n’ mother, who spent a $130,000.00 inheritance on drugs – in a year and a half.

Or, should I share with you all the stories from this past year alone of the deaths in our larger Jewish community due to drug abuse,never mind the "national crisis" going on in the USA.

Or, perhaps I might as well tell you what about the plight of the Jews in Egypt, or at the time of the destruction of the first temple, or maybe even the Spanish inquisition or even the Holocaust. For, as some would say, “you are crying over spilled milk”.

So! I won’t talk about that! Nor will I share with you the plethora of important books and online links you can find on this subject matter to fully fathom it's impact.

I’ll just talk about something that happened today.That I personally witnessed.

Today, I responded as an EMT to a Hatzolah call here in NY, a 16 year old child who’s parent was deeply concerned about the welfare of their child.

We arrived on scene and safely approached the child, after a brief conversation the child agreed, with the parent's consent, to come to the hospital for an evaluation.

There was only one problem, right after the child got their shoes on and opened the door, the child bolted-ran away.

With the added help of the NYPD the child was found safe and sound and was escorted in hand cuffs to the hospital.

Now Stop! How many Rabbis or community representatives get phone calls in the craziest hours of the day and week begging for assistance when a child is at risk or was arrested?! And why? Could it have been prevented? Here we were lucky. Not always. 

But how lucky? The child was in cuffs! Escorted inside and outside by police! Which parent wants to see their child like this?! What brought it to this stage? Instinctively we will begin with a slue of questions like, was the child being assessed psychologically, psychiatric-ally, or does the child have a therapist and is the child on meds? Are the meds even working? If there is drug abuse, why, when, where and HOW? These are all important questions we need to ask – that is the parents and the medical and psychological-medical professionals – each in their own “scope of practice”- experienced in their fields. Good, robust and healthy answers need to be had- and a healthy and robust team of wise and experienced people need to address the challenge at hand - and no one should attempt it alone.

But! Most importantly, and what concerns us, the non professionals, is: what are the family members, friends and community members doing about it? How in tuned are we to children who suffer from a psychological disorder, or who are at risk, or have an attention or love deficiency. What can I do to help and sympathize with another Jew – This is every one’s scope of practice. After all how many mitzvos in the Torah teach us this?! Every Jew, not just a Rabbi or a Dr.

If you know someone that needs a helping hand, or suspect such, or someone who is going through a life long challenge , REACH IN! Reach in to their hearts and minds, see the beauty in them, see the good in them, and take time to listen, be patient,loving, caring and kind to the person - and be empathetic, truly.

This child didn’t want to go the police or even on the ambulance at first, but the child agreed to come in to my car to talk. What does that tell you?! Children need to build trust and earn your respect and credibility. The child was running, bu then stopped, acquiesced, and we spoke about the good and the bad and the ugly of life, for over an hr. A beautiful Neshomah! Deeply challenged! We even got in a few smiles and even a few laughs.

There is always HOPE! Never give up and never give in – REACH IN! And ask the most important question and maybe really the only question you the ”regular person on the street” can ask: WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP THIS PERSON, YOUNG OR OLD! And then, well then create a plan and do it. With wisdom and understanding, sympathy and empathy and love, lots of it.

Don’t wait till it’s too late! The challenge may not be yours and the illness not creeping through your body, the pain and anguish that many of these people have to bare, and their parents and loved one's - but - “every Jew is responsible for the other.” It’s our generation! It’s our children! Wake up. We may or may not be the cure, but we can sure be a remedy and part of the larger plan to help these people fully recover- with G-ds help. ~ r}

(Names and location and further details of this story were kept private for all practical purposes. The gist of the story is critical for further prevention.)

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