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Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons, and Significant Others (JACS)

Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others (JACS) is a mutual support group targeting Jewish people struggling with alcohol and substance use disorders. 

In addition to providing support to addicts, JACS also extends its service to family members, more specifically the immediate members who are directly affected by their loved ones’ addiction. 

Through holding recovery meetings and providing rehabilitation referrals for addicts looking to turn their lives around, JACS strives to help all Jewish members not only in the US but also across the world overcome addiction. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at JACS, its objectives, and its effectiveness in helping members improve their lives by overcoming addiction and its negative effects.  

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What Is JACS? 

JACS, short for Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others, is a support network that seeks to support addicted Jewish individuals and their families. 

The group was formed in 1979 by a group of individuals that felt the need to create a support network for people of the Jewish faith that were not well (or fully) represented by other support groups. 

JACS’ main aim was to provide holistic support for Jewish individuals who needed assistance with their addiction and family members who were deeply affected by their loved ones’ detrimental behaviors. 

According to co-founder David Bucholz, JACS was primarily meant to provide Jewish people struggling with addiction the support and motivation to enroll in spiritual-based programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. 

Bucholz further adds that JACS is a vehicle that provides continuous support to Jewish people after joining other self-help groups. 

In addition to holding regular meetings for members, JACS also organizes seminars and activities for members to participate in and also network.  

By participating in regular rehabilitation activities like volunteer projects, team-building activities, and seminars, JACS members are able to forge meaningful friendships that help promote lifelong sobriety. 

Objectives of JCAS

Support Jewish Individuals Struggling with Addiction

One of the main objectives of the JACS is to support people of the Jewish religion throughout their drug and alcohol addiction-related crises. 

Although the community recognizes that AA and NA (and other 12-step groups) provide the required support, there is a belief that more needs to be done for Jewish people who are often stigmatized. 

Therefore, by helping members feel like part of a greater cause and that they’re supported in their unique journeys, JACS hopes members will be motivated to pursue lifelong sobriety. 

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In addition to providing a welcoming environment for Jewish people struggling with addiction, JACS seeks to use its vast resources to encourage affected people to seek treatment. 

This is usually done through regular seminars with affected family members and loved ones. Moreover, JACS also recommends rehab centers and sober living homes affiliated with the Jewish community. 

Promote Knowledge and Challenge Stereotypes 

Jewish people struggling with chemical dependence and alcoholism are often maligned and viewed negatively among members of the community, a situation that JACS attributes to the lack of information on addiction. 

Through member education and family support, JACS seeks to challenge the stereotype associated with addiction. 

Despite being a religion-affiliated support group, JACS bases its programs on academic evidence and science, which allows it to create a non-judgmental atmosphere that treats addiction as a disease and not a failure. 

Support Family Members 

Family support is also a crucial part of JACS’ program. While addicted persons are usually the most affected by the disorder, family members, too, struggle with the effects. 

By providing support for significant others and family members, JACS seeks to help promote healing and strengthen family units that usually break when the effects of addiction kick in. 

Members get to participate in a variety of planned activities and retreats. The regular interaction plays a huge role in helping people in recovery reconnect with their loved ones and overcome the effects of addiction as a unit. 

Educate Members on the Effects of Alcohol and Drug Dependence 

Another important role that JACS seeks to perform is to create awareness of the dangers of substance abuse and addiction. 

Moreover, JACS also aims to educate members on the dangers of relapsing and the negative effect it can have on an individual and their family members. 

Is JACS A 12-Step Program?

It’s important to note that JACS is not a Jewish alternative to religion-based 12-Step programs. Instead, it is a program that seeks to execute the 12 steps in a manner that appreciates and factors in the Jewish culture. 

Therefore, it is safe to assert that JACS observes the 12-step principles, which entails surrendering to a Higher Power and asking for strength to accept and move on from past mistakes (addiction-related). 

For most Jewish people, the basis of 12 steps programs is mostly repentance and overcoming, which is closely related to the Jewish concept of teshuva

The 12 Steps Observed In JACS

Admitting to being powerless over alcohol/the drug: The first step in all 12-step-based programs is admitting to being powerless over the substance of choice. Members must acknowledge that the problem had gotten out of hand and therefore disrupted their lives. 

Belief that a higher power can restore sanity: Members must then believe that although hard, substance use disorders can be overcome through the help of a Higher Power. It is faith that a higher power can help overcome all sorts of problems, including drug-related problems. 

Decision to surrender to the Higher Power: Jewish people, similar to Christians in other 12-step groups, must surrender to a Higher Power and agree to live as per religious laws to honor the will of the higher power. 

Fearless moral inventory: At this stage, members must assess themselves, thinking about all problems and mistakes that resulted from alcohol or drug addiction. 

Admitted to a Higher Power, ourselves and others, to being wrong: This step is especially important when it comes to healing as it helps members come to terms with their flaws and seek forgiveness. 

Being prepared for the Higher Power to remove the underlying defects: Members must also be willing to fix their issues by seeking the assistance of the higher power. 

Humbly requesting the Higher Power to remove shortcomings: The next step is requesting the Higher Power to remove all shortcomings, those done intentionally and also unintentionally. 

Create a list of all the harmed people and be willing to make amends: The list should be exhaustive and include everyone that might have been harmed by the addictive behavior. Members must be willing to ask for genuine forgiveness.

Creating an intentional relationship with the Higher Power: A major part of the 12-step program is admitting that nothing can be done without the help of the Higher Power. Members are taught more about creating solid and intentional relationships with the Higher Power. 

Spreading the message to other people struggling with substance use disorder: Members must promise to remain committed to the cause and help others in need of support and guidance as they seek to break the chains of addiction. 

As can be seen above, JACS uses the same principles as AA and NA, the only difference being it focuses more on the Jewish religion instead of Christianity. 

By taking a Jewish-centered approach, JACS is able to create a supportive network for its Jewish members that would otherwise feel out of place in other religious-based self-help groups. 

Are Jewish People Stigmatized For Addiction?

There has been a lot of stigma against drug and alcohol addiction in the larger Jewish community. 

While not all Jewish people have negative stereotypes about addiction, a significant enough number of people still perceive addiction negatively, as explained below. 

True observers of the Jewish faith cannot become addicted: Although not all Jewish people hold this view, some members believe that staunch observers of Judaism cannot become addicted, which of course, could not be any further from the truth. 

Jewish addicts have abandoned their faith: Some sections of people practicing Judaism believe that addicts have abandoned their faith and are thus unfit to participate in religious activities. This particular stereotype has kept thousands of Jewish addicts from coming clean and seeking addiction treatment. 

Interacting with addicts is against Jewish culture: Although this stereotype has faded over the years, especially as more people learn about the scientifically-proven causes and effects of addiction, some people still remain judgmental. This negative perception of addiction can make addicts feel neglected, which can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts. 

Addiction is a major sin: Some Jewish people, especially non-addicts, tend to view addiction as a sin against the Most High. While addiction can lead to crimes that can be considered sins in the Jewish culture, substance use disorder is not a crime and should thus be treated as any other medical condition. 

As is clear from the above section, not all members of the Jewish community have a positive view of addiction. This explains why the JACS prioritizes member education and also targets the family as a whole. 

By creating a conducive and accommodative environment for all members, JACS is able to challenge pre-existing stereotypes in the wider Jewish community. 

And considering that the mutual group is free to join, all Jewish people interested in learning, networking, and receiving support can join without the fear of judgment. 

FAQS About JACS

How is JACS Different from AA? 

JACS is different from AA in several ways. Despite both groups observing the 12-steps, JACS is exclusively for members affiliated with Judaism. 

Moreover, JACS provides more than just meetings. It allows its members to interact in a variety of planned retreats and activities, which helps enhance the depth of the relationships while also reducing the chances of relapses. 

How is JACS Different From NA

JACS is different from NA in that it targets people struggling with a wide range of drug addictions, from alcohol to chemical substances. 

Additionally, JACS also incorporates prayers and a variety of Jewish celebrations in its lineup. Members get to participate in a lot more than just weekly fellowship. 

Does JACS Hold Frequent Retreats? 

In addition to creating safe spaces for members to engage in fellowship meetings, JACS also organizes retreats for its members. These retreats are tailored to suit the unique needs of Jewish members looking to overcome addictions and maintain sober lives. 

JACS retreats are usually planned and spearheaded by rabbis and members and are not only meant for recovering addicts but also their loved ones. 

These retreats are designed to be holistic as they incorporate prayer services, recovery meetings, workshops, and team-building activities

Can A JACS Member Attend Other Fellowship Groups?

JACS remains adamant that its role is not to interfere with other programs, but rather to create a safe, supportive space for Jewish people in recovery. As such, the network allows members to participate in whatever self-help groups they deem fit, provided the goal is to maintain sobriety. 

This means that you can participate in other active groups if you feel the need. JACS insists that its role is to challenge stereotypes and reduce, if not eliminate, the stigma that most Jewish people experience. 

Is JACS as Effective as Other Mutual Self Help Groups?

JACS is as effective as other 12-step programs. However, like other mutual support groups, the effectiveness of the program largely depends on the individual and their commitment to the cause. 

For instance, members that are actively involved in the program by attending fellowships and events are more likely to benefit than those that rarely attend or are inactive. 

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Wrapping Up

JACS is a great platform for members of the Jewish community struggling with addiction to receive help and consistent support. 

Unlike other 12-step groups that mostly revolve around volunteers, JACS welcomes the participation of spiritual leaders. 

Additionally, family members are also urged to participate in the program to learn more about addiction and how best to support their affected loved ones. 

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