East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 6, No. 1, Winter 1998, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe

Supporting Families of Alcoholics

Nina V. Belyakova

An Epidemic of Alcohol
Christian women who have family members who drink find it far from easy to cope. In Russia, everyone drinks. Men drink; women drink; children drink. They drink out of grief; they drink because they're happy. Statistics show that, due to alcoholism, our country is at risk genetically. Every fifth person is an alcoholic. Our countryside and villages are well-known for their alcoholism. The number of drug addicts is rising with terrible swiftness, and includes schoolchildren and youth. Numerous children are born drug addicts because their parents are drug users. Furthermore, the number of people who suffer from AIDS is increasing.

Christian women are ashamed of their alcoholic husbands. They simply pass anonymous notes forward at church requesting prayer for them, as is the practice in traditional Russian Protestant churches. They suffer moral insults and physical abuse, and are left practically without recourse. The police rarely interfere, and when they do, it usually takes the form of the husbands being beaten, which usually leads to their being rendered incapable of working. Consequently, even more spiteful relationships emerge within families. Treatment for alcoholism exists, of course. But in the first place, it must begin with the patient's own desire. And in the second place, it is very expensive and, therefore, inaccessible to the majority of Christian and non-Christian families alike.

The Twelve-Step Program
Mothers and children don't have a chance to hide when the alcoholic is particularly aggressive, and the whole family lives in fear. It is painful to see sisters suffering from the effects of an alcoholic or drug addict who deeply believe that this is simply their cross to bear and that no help is possible besides fasting and praying. Of course, prayer plays a huge role in the process of recovery. But, fortunately, there is also psychological help, including the Twelve-Step Program. In this program, people suffering from the same dependency admit their inability to deal with the problem. They give themselves over entirely into God's hands and allow Him to work in every step, in complete trust and submission, in the midst of this difficult environment. Honesty and courage lead to success in such circumstances.

The facts given to family members during the process of instruction are the main tools for cooperation with the alcoholic or addict. Support groups like these meet on the premises of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists and at Christian medical associations. There is already help for the dependents themselves. A group of brothers and sisters who were cured of alcoholism by the Lord have undergone training in a seminar for the Twelve-Step Program. We believe that "The Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Matthew 18:11).

Encouragement for Women
Although we sisters are but powerless vessels, nonetheless we are strong in our love, endurance, and faith. And the Lord, in order to bring about His plan of saving alcoholics and addicts, calls forth sisters who live in such families "to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1). Of course, this does not mean to allow yourself to be abused by an alcoholic.

The renewal of the mind, and the recognition of God's will as "good, pleasing, and perfect" (Romans 12:2), leads to unusual results: the curing of husbands and wives of alcoholism and drug addiction and the healing of marriages. And Christ's church will be filled with the souls of those who were at the roadside.

I want to encourage sisters who have problems like these: Don't grumble; don't lose heart. On the contrary, search for answers to the questions: "Why did You choose me, Lord? What did you want to say to me on this path?" And then we can say, like the psalmist David: "The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation" (Psalm 118:14).

Nina Vladimirovna Belyakova was born in 1948. She was born into a family of believers, but at the age of 15 left the church. After many years of searching and wandering, she became a Christian in Tallinn in 1972. A nurse by training, she does Christian work at Emmanuel Pentecostal Church, in the Christian Medical Association, and in support groups for family members of alcoholics.

Nina V. Belyakova, "Supporting Families of Alcoholics," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 6 (Winter 1998), 7.

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© 1998 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
ISSN 1069-5664

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