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Clergy a Common Resource for People Battling Addiction


About 15 percent of people seeking recovery from alcoholism turn to clergy members for support, a University of Michigan study finds.

HealthDay News reported July 21 that a survey of 1,910 individuals with alcohol-related problems found that while many people seek help from clergy, most do so in conjunction with professional services. Just 0.5 percent sought to recover through counseling with a priest or other clergy member alone.

“Clergy are in a unique position to notice changes in behavior over time,” said study co-author Brian Perron. “Their roles as senior leaders of churches, their embodiment of important tenants of their faiths, and their formal roles as caregivers of their congregations also lend clergy considerable credibility, particularly within African-American communities. Clergy are often seen as being deeply committed to their congregants and willing to honor desires for confidentiality.”

The study was published in the July/August 2010 issue of the American Journal on Addictions.

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