Dec 6, 2017
Before You're Hooked on LChaims

Advocate Susan Blauner and therapist Mendi Baron present 3 steps to avoid getting youngsters and adults hooked on alchohol.

By Susan Blauner and Mendi Baron, LCSW

It is a well-established that genetics play a huge role in many things, including addiction. Some people are wired from conception to be more susceptible to addiction. A good friend of ours, also an addiction specialist, refers to this as the "Genetic Gift Bomb."

We call this "Nature", and it is the reason that people can drink at a social or religious event and one of them end up on the floor every time. It's the reason 4 people can go to yeshiva and have a few drinks, while one of them continues to need a drink regularly for years to come.

Then there is "Nurture". Here we refer to the regular application of a particular behavior such that a person learns to do something over time, either at home or in society. Drinking is a perfect example. If a child grows up seeing their parents drink regularly or has regular access to drinking, this can breed a behavior pattern that features drinking.

Combine "Nurture" with "Nature" and/or with a "void" or mental health issue, like anxiety and depression, and now you have the recipe for full-blown, out of control addiction.

Social drinking and religious drinking are not things that are going to go away. Nor is it something that necessarily has to go away. The issue comes down to access, education, and moderation.


Young children, teens, etc. should not have regular access or exposure to alcohol. This includes access and exposure to others using alcohol in excess.

There is no need for a 6-year-old to "taste" dad's beer any more than there is for a teen to have regular unsupervised access to the liquor cabinet.

Most young folks we see with addiction issues can clearly recall accessing their first drinks and getting their "Buzz" on at home, either when parents weren't home or in the midst of a social or religious gathering.

This is an area of particular challenge but can be solved with proper storage and supervision of alcohol. Lock it up!

This, by the way, applies to prescription pain medications as well which many kids find right in the medicine cabinet at home or at the grandparents' home.


Many people are unaware of the issues and potential dangers surrounding alcohol use. They are also uneducated as to how to prevent issues and identify them when they are present. We provide regular training on these topics and families are always shocked at just how much they don't know.

Education on these topics to both parents, educators, and children alike is critical. Education equals prevention.


Moderation is a key component in many things, not the least of which is Alcohol use.

Sure, we drink wine at the Seder, and at a farbrengan there is alcohol, but does a kid need 4 full cups of wine instead of grape juice? And does the Smirnoff bottle need to be left on the table for the young ones to help themselves to "more than 4" (as the Rebbe required)?

If alcohol use is for religious purposes, it should connect you with G-d and not remove you from your bodily functioning. If you need alcohol socially more than just for taste, then chances are you need to look at that.

If you need a drink to face life issues or when stressed, that should be a warning sign that you need to address your stress or life issues, not drink to "take off the edge."

For this reason, even in the event there is alcohol, and it is "justified," we as adults, need to be the moderators both internally and externally.

A community that wants to address issues of alcohol use must come together and create and follow a set of uniform, predetermined plans and guidelines that address Access, Education, and Moderation. Such a plan should include the input of professionals as well as rabbis so as to incorporate and protect religious values. If we can accomplish this, we are on the right track.

--Mendi Baron, LCSW, is an expert in the field of teen mental health and addiction. His experience as a therapist includes individual and group counseling for children, adolescents, and families. Susan Blauner is the Executive Director of the Saving Lives Coalition, an organization that informs parents and youth about mental health issues and the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse. For more information, help and referrals or to have Saving Lives do a presentation for you or your organization, call 844-728-3294 or visit

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Opinions and Comments
What about lust and s** addiction? That is rampant now all over the world and is the nisayon of this generation no doubt.
(12/6/2017 11:14:55 PM)
How about incentives for Shuls and Schools to adapt:
"Alcohol Free Zone"Club
Frum Teen Death from addiction is at an all time high in the past two years....we need to start from somewhere to save the next generation......

Times have changed!!!! are dying from alocohol/substance addiction-
We the parents need to listen to the professionals and demand that our schools become " ALCOHOL FREE ZONE".
IF A CHILD WAS FATALLY ALLERGIC TO PEANUTS... The school would take ALL precautions....well many of our youth have developed an addiction to alcohol because they were introduced in Mesivta to ALCOHOL.......STUDIES SHOW - Adults who did not drink until 21- are far more likely to develop dependency to alcohol- due to the development of the brain.

(12/7/2017 12:07:59 AM)
You cannot blind yourself from the fact that..
Saying L'chaim and taking "a bissel mashke" on occasion is a well established practice in "Darkei Hachassidus" and encouraged by our Rebbes and Gedolei Hachassidim throughout many generations. I do not support addiction in any way. No extreme is acceptable, (including the extreme of never using alcohol to say a L'chaim).
(12/7/2017 1:10:03 AM)
not for lubavitchers
Jews, let alone Orthodox Jews, let alone Chassidm, let alone Chabad Chassidm dont take direction from secular goyish thought...we turn to the Torah and the Rebbe which are one and the same

Please do not post narishkeit
(12/7/2017 1:21:09 AM)
#4u need to wake up
You need a reality check
Kids are dying from overdosing
(12/7/2017 6:31:08 AM)
Really there Rebbe was majors for not more then 4 kelshkes, and th was for adults until the age of 40. That is chassidus. Chassidus is when a group of chassidim can sit together in a fabregen and just look at a bottle of mashke so it can warm their hearts and open themselves to learn how better themselves! Seriously this is the direction of Torah and chassidus . The idea of mind of matter and doing what is right, of protecting and guarding ones life ! That is holiness. Chassidus and Torah is NOT about alcohol consumption, it never was and it isn't now. If this is how you choose to relate to it then you have a large issue.
There doesn't haven't to be none but in the right time, in the right place and by the right people is the healthy way
(12/7/2017 6:56:22 AM)
To number 3 and 4
The author said nothing about not saying lechaim at a farbrengen. The term moderation was used, and that applies also at a farbrengen. And this is in accordance with the torah as well, as mentioned a few times in sichos.
(12/7/2017 7:07:39 AM)
Yes Lechaim, but...
There is no reason that teen bochurim should be drinking hard liquor.
1. We should be training our young to be inspired in their Yiddishkeit through Chassidus. Any "spiritual high" experienced at a farbrengen lasts as long as the mashke stays in the system and fizzles out by the next morning.
2. When one is inspired through Chassidus, this can have a long lasting effect, and one can take that up to the next level through a chassidishe farbrengen with a mashpia farbrenging or through sharing chasdidishe stories etc.
3. A chadsidishe farbrengen does not have to have mashke (especially with teen bochurim)... There is nothing wrong with wine... in fact, this is what we saw by the Rebbe's farbrengens. While there may have been mashke in the earlier years, and the Rebbe gave bottles of mashke to many by Kos Shel Brocha, nevertheless, in the latter years it was wine at every farbrengen and that is how we said lchaim with the Rebbe.

In conclusion: Farbrengens are the life blood of a chassidishe life...
The kiruv halevovos at a farbrengen comes through saying lchaim... But (for teens especially) this need not be done with hard liquor AKA Mashke...
(12/7/2017 8:04:55 AM)
#1 Awesome… Chemical dependency to Fabreng Effectively???
Mesivtas need to be able to have effective farbrengens Without exposing the young brain to fatal addictions that destroyed lives and marriages. Our kids are dying we need to Do something quick… Alcohol can be a gateway to drugs anything that alters the state of mind before the age 21 is putting kids at risk
(12/7/2017 9:31:30 AM)
I like mashke
Another worthless article did you work on yourself that you feel the need to change other people i happen to agree with this article but I know how difficult it is to to change my self i have no intention of changing some one els mashke and drugs are the least of our problems we need to empower the youth to make smartlife decisions but to do that they need a good dose of self esteem let's do something about the root of the problem not the symptom in my opinion the most pressing issues is child abuse and emotional health and yes bullying in our schools a proven track record to lead to mashke and drugs
(12/7/2017 10:07:31 AM)
Crown hieghts
We see at weddings and even Bar mitzvahs there are full bars.
Everyone lines up to drink. Let's see where there is a problem
(12/7/2017 10:20:45 AM)
Nigunim done right have the power zone in the fabrengeners
Alcohol is not necessary
(12/7/2017 10:29:56 AM)
Bad idea
There is a liquor store on Kingston avenue and I see a quite a few young Chasidium going in their to buy liquor or Wine, not just for Yom Tov or a Farbrengen
(12/7/2017 4:40:19 PM)
Concerned chossid
Rosh hashana bedarkei hachasidus ibilimud hachasidus! a gut gebentchte yor! lchaim vilivracha! we should be zoiche to say lchaim with the coming of moshiach shlita speedily in our days bimheiro viyomeinu, amen!
(12/7/2017 6:02:22 PM)
stop giving out in school no matter what and mothers and fathers your kids r looking how YOU are behaving . they are copying u.
(12/7/2017 6:27:15 PM)
Well said.
I find the post well written and spot on.

But as in the previous post (about street drugs), there's a fundamental 4th item - which is mentioned in passing here.- The "void."

If there's nothing aching that I seek to soothe, I will rarely seek an escape (of any mind altering substance). This void drives people to any addiction.

IMO the most important focus nowadays is to have and provide (if you're educating) purpose, meaning and connection to other people/community. If someone is missing those or lost them, they will almost certainly seek out things to numb and distract from the existential void.
(12/7/2017 11:08:53 PM)
"the key is moderation"
If they see that at home and school it's locked up, but adults can have it, then it's gonna give them an even bigger push to try it, and that's not supervised! Give it at school- starting from a young age and teach them how to use it!

A gut Yom tov
(12/8/2017 3:39:51 AM)
To 12
Sooooooooooooo not true, aperently you haven't been to a farbrengen with young bochurim in a long time
(12/8/2017 3:41:28 AM)
To #2
Very well said (the end, not the beginning)
If you don't drink when you gonna younger - then when you find out about the effects- you are much more likely to become addicted
(12/8/2017 7:01:05 AM)
The rebbe knows what he is talking about, when the rebbe said bochrim should not have more than 4, that implies that up to 4 is ok and good EVEN FOR BOCHRIM. I also highly doubt that the bochrim that keep the takonah are the ones with the problems. Therefor I think even in mesivtas mashkeh should be given out with it being stressed the importance of keeping the rebbe mh'm takonah and what the reason for mashkeh is and how mashkeh is only ment to be used for good things not Stam drinking chas vesholom.
(12/9/2017 7:43:11 PM)
a yeshivah bochur
as a current yeshivah bochur learning in zall I want to tell you from experience thee truth about drinking in yeshivah parents like to blame the yeshivah and hanhala of the yeshivah that their kids drink, I think its time you learn the truth its really all about how you raised your kids there are three types of bochrim by drinking
1) you have one bochury that won't drink anything those guys are generally bochurim who learned on their own to stay away from it
2) the guys that say only 4 were raised like a normal chassidishe bochurim that mashie is good to have by a fabrenguen to get involved but not too much then you have
3) who like #4 had parents who were strict on them their whole life so when they came to mesivta when their parents aren't there they grow crazy
again I'm only a bochury but from my 6 years in yeshivah iv seen many bochurim and this is the usual three cases
so before all you parents out there start fighting against yeshivas to stop mashie know that 1.if your kid is drinking its your fault and 2.making it more "illegal" and strict in yeshivah only makes drinking more fun for mesivta bochurim
(12/9/2017 11:47:40 PM)
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