Substance Abuse

The use of drugs and other illegal substances and the abuse of alcohol have reached crisis proportions, endangering the health and welfare of all segments of American society. Drug trafficking has contributed to an alarming increase in criminal activity at home and abroad. Government reports show that drug trafficking has become a major funding source for international terrorism.

The scourge of drugs is insidious and complex: The demand for drugs is the consequence of personal, family and societal problems. Adults, adolescents, and even young children now have ready access to drugs and alcoholic beverages and are victims of their harmful effects. The supply of drugs is the product of underdeveloped third-world economies, supported by tremendous profits from the drug trade. The problem requires a multi-faceted response, including education, early intervention, detoxification and treatment, employment opportunities, adequate standard of living, changed lifestyles, interdiction and other forms of law enforcement. It must be addressed locally, nationally and internationally.

From the perspective of spiritual and religious conviction, the Reform Jewish community has a responsibility and an opportunity to respond to the drug crisis and to assist our nation in its efforts to wage war on drugs.

We must also look within our own Jewish community. Recent reports from the National Center of Drug Abuse and the National Cocaine Hotline indicate that Jewish students are significantly represented among drug abusers. This points to the need for us as a Movement to become much more aggressive in discovering and combating the causes of drug and alcohol abuse.

Our UAHC Task Force on Youth Suicide has already gained national recognition for its efforts in combating the epidemic of youth suicide, which today remains the second leading cause of death among those fifteen-twenty four years of age. Inasmuch as many self-inflicted deaths were drug and alcohol related, the Task Force may help us as a Movement to research further the causes of this often preventable tragedy.

THEREFORE , the Union of American Hebrew Congregations resolves to:

  1. Declare its unequivocal opposition to all forms of substance abuse, including alcohol.
  2. Work with other religious and secular bodies in addressing the problems of substance abuse.
  3. Call upon members of Reform Congregations to exercise moderation in the consumption of alcoholic beverages, demonstrating due regard for their personal well-being, the well-being of others, and an awareness of the example set for adolescents and children.
  4. Commend those athletes and other celebrities who have spoken out against substance abuse and encourage them to continue their efforts in this regard.
  5. Deplore the practice of some celebrities to be featured in media which encourage the use of alcoholic beverages and which present them as poor role models for young people.
  6. Call upon member congregations and related organizations to initiate and support programs to assist substance abusers in our midst to overcome their problem.
  7. Call upon the Department for Religious Education to prepare and distribute relevant educational materials for congregations, religious schools, and youth groups. Call upon the Task Force on Youth Suicide to expand its program mandate to include substance abuse.
  8. Support local drug and alcohol treatment agencies and support programs in providing treatment and rehabilitation to help restore substance abusers, including those who are incarcerated, to useful and productive lives in society.
  9. Call upon the President and the Congress to provide adequate funding for the government's anti-drug programs to achieve its objective of cutting off the supply of cocaine and other illegal drugs.