Church and family are the most important factors in fighting drug use

Romanian police have identified 12 psychoactive substances on the Romanian drug market, which continues unabated despite the pandemic. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is fighting the increasing drug problem, and the Orthodox Church is taking an active part in these efforts. Studies show that those who turn to the Church and those who have a close family are most likely to give up drug use.

The Deanery of Bucharest’s Sector 4 has been partnering with the Ministry’s National Anti-drug Agency (ANA) since last year, and several young clerics involved in youth activities have undergone anti-drug training.

Fr. Vlad Mîndru of the Church of Venerable Daniel the Hermit is one of those who have gone through the training and has dealt with several drug-addicted people. “So far, I haven’t seen happy endings,” he said. “One of my high school classmates died from drug use.”

Who is more prone to start using drugs?

Users are often very sensitive and emotional people, often negatively affected by the breakdown or dysfunction in their families, explains Fr. Vlad Mîndru.

“Drug use is unique among sins in that the user himself is the victim”, he says. “Once addiction has settled, the user loses control of himself and ends up consuming the substance not intentionally, but against one’s will.”

Therefore, drug users need to be approached differently than those who do evil with intent. They begin to feel isolated, cannot hold any jobs and isolate themselves.

Even in their isolation, they do a lot of harm to their loved ones. “Drug use is a community problem, not an individual one,” affirms Father Vlad Mîndru.

“Family cohesion is absolutely essential”

That is why community and family are key in recovering from drug addiction.

“There is an important study and example of good practice from Iceland. There was a period when this country has an issue: 30% of their youth were drug users,” said Father Vlad Mîndru.

Due to its geographical position, Iceland has three months a year with daylight at night-time. In addition, people are very distant, even in the relationship parent-child.

“They made an extensive sociological research and concluded that those who had at least one family activity during the weekend were more likely to break their drug habit,” said the father.

The authorities therefore made a campaign advising families to organize activities with their children at least once a week. “Family cohesion is absolutely essential,” Fr. Mîndru said.

Also, as drug use is an activity very much influenced by the entourage, parents were advised to not allow their children to go out at night unaccompanied by an adult.

Study: The Church is the best drug detox

ANA anti-drug experts presented in their training for clerics the conclusions of another study on drug use made by the University of Bucharest.

Among the results: the lowest rate of drug consumption is registered among children raised by church-goers.

The study also found that the best rate of successful drug detox is registerd among users who get closer to the Church.

“Family and Church are essential factors which can prevent and also stop drug use,” concluded the cleric.

“Our perspective is totally different because we try to understand them, to offer them a helping hand without judging them at all,” emphasized the Church father.

It’s important to understand that all drug users eventually regret that they began to use, he added.

“And, once they start regretting, there are two categories: those who don’t care anymore, because they do not find the motivation to fight, and those who want to get clear of drug use. Of the latter, there are some who come to the church, where they need to find very supportive and patient people,” he continued.

“It is not something material that they need, but rather spiritual support.”

Advice for young people

Fr. Vlad Mîndru has two pieces of advice for young people. The first is to completely avoid drugs altogether and not try them even once.

“The drug produces damage to the nervous system from the first use, it starts acting immediately. And, because it creates sensations like nothing else, psychological addiction will install right away, making you want more,” he added.

“But once you’ve become a user, you remain a user forever,” he warned. “Even if you quit, there can always be a relapse.”

That is why young people need to avoid all use and all circumstances favouring use.

The second piece of advice for young people is to not turn their backs on those they suspect are using drugs. “Isolation makes them more likely victims,” he said.

Yet, in the process of being there for the user, they absolutely need additional support: parents, mentors, teachers, the community.

They need to announce immediately the teachers or the police if they see a possible drug promoter in their school or in their entourage.

“Generally, consumers also become distributors, trying to find new users, because they need the money. They can be former students who hang around the schoolyard or other similar profiles,” Father Vlad Mîndru warned.

The ANA training sessions were very useful to Father Mîndru. “We have access to practical information and we learn how to identify a user and how to offer counselling.”

As part of the partnership with ANA, priests of Bucharest’s Sector 4 Deanery hold regular meetings with Agency experts to keep updated on all the latest data and anti-drug practices.

They continue to participate in training courses and also carry out information campaigns among young people on the problem of drug use.

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