People flocked to religious services and other forms of psycho-spiritual support in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. But several months later, it was widely reported that synagogue and church attendance had dropped down nearly to pre-9-11 levels.
But among Jewish alcoholics and drug addicts, synagogue and 12-step meeting attendance remained much higher months after the terrorist attacks than it was before.
A survey of the 200 participants in last spring’s JACS (Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others) retreat found that a quarter said they were attending religious services more often than they had before 9-11.
Almost as many (19 percent) said they were attending more 12-step meetings than they had before the attacks, as well.
Not surprisingly, about half of those surveyed said that being part of 12-step groups helped them deal with the trauma they experienced from the attacks, said Susan Vex, JACS’ coordinator of research.
She conducted the study of participants at May’s retreat at the Swan Lake Hotel in the Catskills. JACS serves as an adjunct support to regular 12-step meetings for chemically dependent Jews, offering retreats and symposia, education and community outreach. It’s a program of the New York Board of Family and Children’s Services.
People came to the JACS retreat from all over the world, including many parts of the U.S., and from Israel, Canada and Brazil.
As might be expected, there was a noticeable difference between the degree of psychological impact people felt by Jewish addicts from New York, compared with those from other places, six months after the attacks, Vex said.
But overall, the Jewish addicts coped well with the trauma and most held on to their sobriety.