What do the Fathers say about addictions and treatment for addictions?
The Fathers are silent on this matter because the disease model of addiction is a 20th century development. Prior to the 1930s, addictions were often seen as moral failings or failures of the will. The testimony of the Fathers is that it takes years, and often a lifetime, to overcome and control the passions. This is true if true healing is to occur. Our goal is to return a person to life in the Church, with personal tools to control the addiction while continuing to be a productive member of the Church.
How long am I going to be in recovery, or needing some form of treatment?
Recovery will take the rest of your life unless God heals you. Recovery takes time and occurs in stages, and even then, treatment is not a cure. Outside of God’s miracles, there is no known cure for addictions. An alcoholic will be a recovering alcoholic for the rest of his life, a gambler will be a recovering gambler for the rest of his life, and so on. But once the recovery lifestyle is consistently maintained and supported, a return to addictive behavior is quite rare.
What does it mean that St. Ephraim Center takes an “Orthodox approach” to addiction treatment?
All St. Ephraim Center treatment programs take place in a safe, supportive environment, grounded in the spirituality of the Orthodox Church. We use the teaching of the Church and the sacraments of the Church, particularly Confession, to make the recovery process more Christ-centered.
I have my own Father Confessor, can he continue to hear my Confessions?
Outside of your participation in St. Ephraim Center treatment programs, of course your Father Confessor can continue to hear your Confessions. During the intensive program, however, you will be assigned a Confessor from among the priests on staff. Every person during treatment must go to Confession to a trained priest. It is part of the treatment program.
If your Father Confessor says that you cannot go to anyone but him for Confession, you must seek addiction treatment elsewhere. With respect, we would also suggest that you seek a different Father Confessor who recognizes Confession as a Sacrament of the Church, and not of any individual in the Church.
Can we keep my treatment a secret?
Absolutely not. Secrecy feeds addictions. Treatment at St. Ephraim Center is confidential, not secret. What is covered in the sessions, what a client says during treatment, whether inside or outside of sessions, is confidential—no one will reveal anything discussed without the client’s written permission. Confessions during treatment are also confidential, as always. But the fact of being in treatment must not be hidden. This does not mean we will publish rosters of people in treatment or publicize anyone’s participation in any way. But each client will need to face, at some point, the need to acknowledge their addictions not just to God or to themselves, but to their families—both personal and church.
For more information about addictions, please see our about addictions page.