What does your spirituality say about drinking, using drugs (including tobacco), gambling, and overeating? Explore how recovery principles and practices work alongside Quaker faith and practice. Includes those who live with people with addictions or compulsions and others who wish to explore these issues in a safe and supportive environment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared teen alcohol abuse a public health crisis; prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing sector of addiction in our society; and according to the CDC, we Americans are eating ourselves into a diabetes epidemic. How does our spirituality guide us with respect to drinking, using drugs (even smoking cigarettes), gambling (even playing the lottery), or overeating?
Historically, Quakers were strict about practicing total abstinence from all intoxicants and moderation in activities of daily life—including eating, drinking, and sexuality. Most Quakers no longer take an abstinence-only approach to these matters. And there are more Quakers in recovery programs than folks may think. This workshop is for those who may wish to explore how their recovery principles and practices work alongside their Quaker faith and practice; those who live with people with addictions or compulsions and who want to consider ways in which deepening their spiritual practice may help; people who think they may “have a problem” but aren’t sure; and others who wish to explore these issues in a safe and supportive environment. We will inquire into the ways in which family history and experience may have shaped our attitudes toward substances and behaviors over which we may have felt, or may still feel, a lack of control; we will learn about the dynamics of addiction as a family-systems problem; and we will explore how Quaker testimonies (with a focus on those of integrity, simplicity, and moderation) and recovery principles may serve to empower us toward choices that are more healthful, for body, mind and spirit. How can we find ourselves being examples to the society in which we live? How can we heal our lives so we can let them speak—even in these difficult issues?
It is my hope that we’ll also hear experiences of overcoming addictions and compulsions from those in the group who have achieved a restoration of peace in their lives around these problems. As a facilitator I will share stories of my own struggles with compulsive use of food, alcohol, and prescription drugs, as well as how my upbringing in an alcoholic family—and one that used food and religion to control and suppress feelings, rather than to express and deal with them—led me to seek a more healing and loving spiritual faith and practice. We’ll be starting each session by centering into worship. We’ll then be learning and sharing about different ways to meditate and pray; our different ideas and concepts about “God” and “higher power," and how to find and surrender to a will greater than our own; how the practice of discernment/unity and “group conscience” harmonize with each other; and how we may be able to shift our faith and practice in order to lift up ourselves, and one another, with a tender hand. Activities may include journaling, sharing/creative listening in pairs and/or small groups, art-making, guided meditation, and full-group sharing. We may also read from and discuss the Pendle Hill Pamphlet "Friends and Alcohol: Recovering a Forgotten Testimony."
About the leader :
I have served as clerk and co-clerk of Pittsburgh Friends Meeting's Ministry committee. (I'm currently co-clerk.) And I've been a member of the Ministry committee for about 12 or 13 years. During that time I've led countless worship-sharing and threshing sessions, and I've also worked with various speakers (e.g. Jeanne-Marie Barch, Eileen Flanagan, Stephen Angell) our committee has brought in to create successful interactive sessions designed to deepen the spirituality of our community.
I'm a member of groups supporting those who want to live sober and those who have lived with alcoholism, and I write widely about addiction and recovery. This year I'm a fellow of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services Administration.