Posted on April 20, 2016
Most people experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives - either a natural disaster, accident, or a man made event.
Research routinely shows that between 6-and-18 months after the traumatic event, people may begin drnking alcohol or using other drugs to "cope" with the effects. People who are non-drinkers begin to drink, current drinkers may drink more, and many people who are in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction can relapse back into full addiction !
Trauma... even chronic stress... may make a person up to 5 times more vulnerable to drinking or using other drugs to self-medicate!
Alcohol and Drug Use
are the most predictable variables
Trauma and magnify
INSTEAD OF REACHING FOR
OR A STREET-DRUG...
- to Your Family...
- to a Friend...
- to your Faith Community...
- or to your local Council on Alcoholism and Addictions for more information!
There are a number of opportunities that clergy or social ministers can help with, for victims of trauma.
- Develop a library of Scripture and faith-based resources and publications relating to trauma, victimization, anger, healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.
- Offer special educational programs and workshops on topics such as Grief and Loss, Healing, Getting Through the Holidays, Impact of Crime, Forgiveness, Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Spiritual Questioning Related to Crises, etc.
- Identify locations in your church or house of worship that can be a comfortable meeting place or "compassion center" offering safety to individuals and families, or a place for victims to meet privately, especially if your building is located near a courthouse.
- Identify "victims in the pews"... be aware of the dangers and consequences of trauma (even for the quiet and seemingly "unaffected") and provide prayer and spiritual support.
- Organize candlelight services or memorial services during Christmas and other religious events for homicide victims’ families with prayer, scripture and psalms related to transformation, healing, and forgiveness (ex. during National Victims’ Rights Week - the 3rd week in April).
- Plan special events, such as by joining the National Night Out prevention efforts in the community, planning a prayer walk, planning a "How Your Church (or Faith Community) Can Help Crime Victims" community seminar, etc.
- Host victim support group meetings monthly in partnership with a local mental health practitioner or victim assistance organizations.
- Educate other church members about possible feelings, reactions and needs of victims and their families of terrorism, crime, rape or sexual abuse, or accidents or natural disasters. Remember that your presence may be the most powerful gift you can give to a person in pain.
- Encourage church and house of worship leadership to prepare and deliver sermons, psalms and messages about evil, suffering, hope and restoration.
- Develop partnerships with local victim assistance programs (domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, prosecutor and law enforcement-based programs that serve crime victims.)
- Offer a variety of Direct Victim Assistance Support Services, ex. Transportation, food, etc.
- Be sure to offer periodic programs on alcohol and drug use and abuse, and be prepared with a list of community resources to make referrals in case of suspected alcohol or drug dependency.