Boca Raton, FL – More than 200 recovering drug addicts from the Jewish community are expected to turn out for an uplifting shabbaton in South Florida taking place on March 24th through 26th at the Doubletree by Hilton Deerfield Beach – Boca Raton.
While the weekend will be the sixth such event hosted by the Jewish Recovery Center, Rabbi Meir Kessler, founder and executive director of the JRC said it is likely the most important one ever.
“This epidemic has taken over the world times ten,” Rabbi Kessler told VIN News. “There are young Jewish kids who have been dying of overdoses at a rapid pace.”
Rabbi Kessler noted that while medicines come with child proof caps to prevent toddlers from accidentally ingesting their contents, they do little to prevent older children from harm.
“We have seen time and time again that a mother or a father has surgery and goes home with painkillers,” said Rabbi Kessler. “Young kids are getting hold of these opiates and are literally dying.”
The weekend will be geared to those who have completed a drug rehabilitation program and are currently in recovery. While in recent events the JRC shabbaton has placed more emphasis on spirituality, this year’s event will have more of a clinical angle and will include several social workers from the Orthodox Jewish community including Menachem Poznanski, clinical director of Our Place’s The Living Room, addiction specialist Lewis Abrams and Moshe Yachnes, a therapist with Sunspire Health Recovery Road in Florida. Other featured speakers include Rabbi Shais Taub, Rabbi Schneur Kaplan and Rebbetzin Devorah Kaplan.
The biggest issue facing those in recovery? Dealing with day to day life, observed Rabbi Kessler.
“The beginning of recovery is euphoric; we call it the pink cloud syndrome,” explained Rabbi Kessler. “But then life hits you and while in the past you may have turned to drugs and alcohol to alleviate the pain of stress, now you need to find another solution. In time people in recovery find a different solution to cope with stress but we find a lot of people falling off the wagon in the first year.”
Going back to drugs can have tragic consequences for a recovering addict.
“The clinical term is reverse tolerance,” said Rabbi Kessler. “A person thinks that his body can use drugs the way they did before they were in recovery but very often we find that relapses end in overdose and death because the body can’t tolerate the drugs the way it used to.”
Poznanski noted that spending time at a weekend retreat can be especially helpful to those in recovery.
“Retreats like this can often be transformative and life changing,” said Poznanski.
Creating a weekend geared to members of the Jewish community is particularly beneficial, explained Poznanski.
“Having an event like this, particularly with other Jewish people, who share a common culture and belief system, provides an opportunity to give insight towards future growth, particularly when it is also includes clinical and spiritual information and the support of other like minded individuals,” said Poznanski. “It is very, very useful to have different intervals throughout the year where you can step away from life and reconnect and gain support.