The Fellowship of Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri
THE FELLOWSHIP OF SAINT EPHRAIM OF NEA MAKRI
The Fellowship of Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri is on a hiatus due to COVID-19.
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ADDICT: The term itself is isolating, not only for the intended, but also for those around them. Addiction carries a societal weight that shames its conquered people into a dark silence. It discourages their family and friends from trying to understand the deeply rooted dysfunction. It carries with it a destructive stigma that subjectively determines the addict to only have him or herself to blame. The term leaves the suffering population feeling unworthy of care and their would-be supports believing that they have no choice but to disband their loved one.
The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (otherwise known as the DSM – IV) places “drug addiction” under the heading of “substance dependence,” defined in the following way:
When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped.
From an Orthodox perspective, there is nothing wrong with this definition; however, it is incomplete. An addiction—whether behavioral, substance-based or both—is more than a dependency; it is a recession. Addiction distances the sufferer not only from others, but also from the internal and external reality that God has created for us. Catholic Theologian Henri J. M. Nouwen likens the addict’s experience to the Prodigal Son’s leaving home:
We live within the world’s delusions, our addictions condemn us to futile quests in “the distant country” (Luke 15:13), leaving us to face an endless series of disillusionments while our sense of self remains unfulfilled…we have wandered far away from our Father’s home. The addicted life can aptly be designated a life lived in “a distant country.”1
1Nouwen, H.J.M. The Return of The Prodigal Son. New York: Doubleday, 1992. 38-39. Print.
Nouwen points out that the addict is one whose existence is both insatiable and segregating, often leaving one emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. That is to say, no matter how distanced we are from it, there is always a longing for the “Father’s home.” So, the question then becomes: how can we as a Church help these lost brothers and sisters find their way home?
Starting this month (see calendar for details), our community will set out to begin answering that question. It is with prayerful consideration that Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church presents The Fellowship of Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri, a support group for those struggling directly or indirectly with addiction. If you or a loved one are working to “find the way home”, let this ministry help. Under directed efforts of clergy and trained behavioral counselors, The Fellowship combines the power of clinical education and witness with Christ’s love to support those recovering from this terrifying affliction. While there is no exact timeline for recovery, nor can we lead anyone all the way home. “Recovery” is something from which we can all benefit.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, or if you would like more information on the topic, please contact the national helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800- 662-HELP (4357). Also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service, this is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service offered in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.Callers can also order free publications and other information. You may also visit their website: findtreatment.samhsa.gov.