How Many People Can One Person Feed?

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Dear Jido,

I was at a bet avel(house of mourning) today for a young man who passed away from an overdose of drugs.

After prayers, three men were standing around talking about how their sister (or wife, I didn't hear - but it was a "she") was trying to beat the system on slot machines. The "expert" was explaining how slot machines are calibrated to work for the benefit of the casino and why she was better off at the craps table.

I wanted to scream! Here we were mourning for someone who passed away as a result of an addiction and they were discussing how to succeed at gambling!

What is happening to our community?


Dear Bewildered,

For heaven’s sake, if it wasn’t so bizarre, I would say you were making this up. How sad.

How many young people of our community have succumbed to drug, alcohol, or gambling addictions? And it is not limited only to our young - married men (and as we now hear, women too), are falling into the spiral of abuse.

There’s no doubt that the CEOs and high-ranking executives in our community are under a great amount of stress, and are burdened by responsibility, and the pressure to achieve. Thousands of others feel this same need to acquire what others have or only appear to have. Sometimes that could be wealth, or school grades, or even love and affection. Substance abuse offers a way to escape.

The problem is that the path to addiction isn’t a straight road and it doesn’t happen right away. The effects of alcohol, drugs, and gambling might feel good to the occasional user but that doesn’t mean every user will try it again or become addicted. The warnings signs generally appear too late. Once they develop, they are slow to reverse, if ever.

I have never been there so I can’t relate to the dependence of an addiction (I don’t know if eating bizit qualifies as an addiction). There are many who can probably answer more clearly what causes a person to adopt addictive behaviors. But those three people you mention would do well to heed the harsh words of one of the most respected rehabilitation centers in America that handles all types of abuses – “You baby them… you bury them.” Whatever the root causes are, when a friend or loved one is in trouble, you MUST seek professional help without hesitation or delay.

As our beloved community has always done in times of need, we turn to Hashem and ask for His mercy and guidance in stemming the tide of this growing epidemic.

Yours in sorrow,