Individuals Confess Alcohol Abuse to Clergy
Persons with alcohol problems are finding comfort in speaking about their situation to clergy, a new study shows. The findings appear in the American Journal on Addictions.
Among 1,910 people with any alcohol-related problems, 14.7% said they used clergy services. The study, from researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and Saint Louis University, also indicates the majority of those who used services from clergy also used professional services at some point; only 0.5% used clergy services exclusively for their alcohol use-related problem.
Although professional services are used more commonly, these findings show that clergy services are an important part of the overall system of care for persons with alcohol problems.
Researchers sought to examine the prevalence of use of clergy services among those adults who received help for an alcohol use problem in the United States, as well as characteristics and correlates of individuals with alcohol-related problems who used clergy services compared with individuals who used other types of services. Researchers also examined the degree to which individuals who receive help from the clergy receive other types of services as well.
The increased likelihood of service used included being black, aged 35 to 54, a lifetime history of alcohol dependence, major depressive disorder, and personality disorder, according to the data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
Individuals who met criteria for alcohol dependence were more likely to have used clergy services for alcohol use-related problems than individuals who never met criteria or who only met criteria for alcohol abuse.
“This may in part reflect the fact that individuals who meet criteria for alcohol abuse by definition have experienced legal, occupational, and/or social problems due to their alcohol consumption, and may be more likely to enter treatment through the legal system, employee assistance programs, or social services,” says lead author Amy Bohnert, PhD, MHS, an assistant psychiatry professor at the University of Michigan Medical School and research investigator in the VA National Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center
What makes ministers, priests and rabbis ideal are they are involved in their communities, know their congregants well, and see them on a regular basis, researchers say.
— Source: University of Michigan Health System