Russian church helps in fight against alcohol addiction


Eastern Europe


A view of an Orthodox church covered with snow after a snowfall in the town of Podolsk, outside Moscow, Russia. Photo EPA, Maxim Shipenkov

The Russian Orthodox Church actively participates in a round table about the fight against alcohol addiction. The church wants to help to overcome the “feeling of helplessness.”

Apart from the church, other participants were several government departments, like the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, and the Ministry of Education, according to the Russian news website Patriarcha. Non-profit organisations and children’s ombudsmen, experts, and specialists from several Russian regions are connected as well.

The round table participants discussed the forms of work with parents with alcohol addiction and the formats of cooperation between state social services and socially oriented NGOs in the direction of helping families.

Helping families is one of the key elements in fighting alcoholism in Russia. This is what Evgeny Brun thinks. He is a psychiatrist-narcologist of the Ministry of Health. “Everything that happens in a child’s family up to the age of five determines the child’s system of behaviour and his entire future life. If he sees a drunk father, he will most likely behave in the same way.” Therefore, Brun thinks, “working with families to combat alcoholism is the most important guarantee of the future sober life of these people.” Although Brun acknowledges that this does not mean that working with families is an absolute cure for future drunkenness, “it will significantly reduce the likelihood of this event.”

“One of the problems that need to be addressed is overcoming the feeling of helplessness among professionals working with families with children and dependent parents. It often seems that they cannot be helped, but this is not the case”, said Valery Doronkin. He is the head of the Coordination Center of the Russian Orthodox Church for counteracting alcoholism. “It is necessary to collect positive experience of working with such families, and show this experience in the form of educational films, methodological materials, talk about it at professional meetings.”

During the meeting, a representative of the Synodal Charity Department proposed to summarise the judicial experience in deciding on the deprivation of parental rights of parents with alcohol addiction. “It is important to understand what role the judges play. Not to remove the child from the family, but to encourage the parents to undergo treatment and rehabilitation.”

At the end of the round table, Olga Khokhlova, Deputy Chairperson of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy, said that all the proposals made at the meeting would be included in the general resolution of the round table and sent to the regions for use in work.

According to the news website Pravo Slavie, more than 600 Russian Orthodox organisations and projects help alcohol addicts and their relatives overcome addiction. The Coordination Center for Counteracting Alcoholism and Promoting Sobriety has been operating in the Synodal Charity Department since 2011.



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