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Churches, temples, and religious groups are often leaders in helping a community cope with substance abuse, and while many people will say a religious belief is not necessary for recovery, others have found that it works for them.
Religious organizations that are concerned about this problem may do some or all of the following:
-- Hire and train clergy in recognizing addiction problems and counseling active and recovering addicts, including referral to treatment programs and trained therapists.
-- Make space available for 12-step recovery groups to meet.
-- Develop and use chemical-dependency awareness programs and educational materials, in consultation with trained experts.
-- Gather information on local resources for getting help and make these freely available to visitors and members.
-- Communicate the message that chemical dependency is a chronic disease, not a sin.
-- Assess the community's needs and organize volunteer projects, whether it be to form a youth basketball league, distribute clean needles, or raise money for community treatment centers and hotlines.
-- Welcome back former members who are in recovery.
In addition, it is important that clergy members have their own support resources outside their immediate congregations. They are as prone to substance abuse problems as members of any other profession, and larger denominations may have programs in place to help them address such issues.