Became popular in Russia Orthodox temperance societies

These clubs rarely advertise in Newspapers, and certainly not moving in the Internet. But inconspicuous ads on them are almost in every Moscow Church: alcoholism, alas, is relevant to many families. But the movies and books we have a good idea of what alcoholics anonymous, and it has little to do with Christianity! What similar these groups of sobriety, what they do with people drinking and what they can do to help?

A meeting of the family club of sobriety at the Church of All Saints at Sokol. Photo: courtesy of the Orthodox family club sober

— I’m codependent, thin girl with face closed by hair, says quietly as if to himself. First my husband died of an overdose of drugs, a second alcoholic husband. I drank with him, then stopped drinking, and now he had also stopped drinking and said… away from me.

The girl, who was presented by the Marina, listening to a little more than 10 people. In the corner of the icon, on the table — tea with biscuits: permanent members of the group always have something to bring to the table. This is one of several groups of sobriety, working at the Church of All Saints, near the metro station “Sokol”. All of these groups in Moscow — a few dozen.

Not to drink, and eat

— So, let’s see — a measured presenter Vitaly Ivanov. What do you mean quit? He will direct text said about it? When was this?

Well, if he Packed… Marina sobbing. — It was two weeks ago, and I still can’t get over…

All the others nod sympathetically, and occasionally give advice priklepyvayut tea and brew a new one. About the divine comes to talking infrequently: only two of those suggest to pray zealously and suggest that “it is not in vain, there are spiritual laws”. No: most of the group, including the leader, give everyday advice. To relax, try to breathe, just to live — and a year or two to start a new life. Just a conversation and just a sympathy act: after 10 minutes, the Marina may have to pull back a strand of hair behind your ear and show is quite cute and young face.

— And what about you, Daria? — Vitaly asked from the next table of women. She’s older than Marina, she is forty. Sipping tea and smiling cautiously.

— And I have 39 days hold! replica Daria causes a delighted hum. Leading happy, too: well done! — I, if you feel that keeps drawing me back to drink… just stay at work until 10pm and not have time to buy anything!

The word “vodka”, “wine”, “drink” in the group, if not banned, then by unspoken taboo. They say: “alcohol”, “eat”… Daria “was used” too much, especially after a divorce (Yes, for women, alcohol and personal lives are too often associated). Came to physical dependence. But after I went to weekly group and talking with colleagues over tea — failures have become increasingly rare. More than a month — that’s progress. Close to full recovery!

Not psychotherapy, and mutual aid

— Our system of Orthodox family of clubs of sobriety has been operating for 25 years, from the beginning 90-x years — says “MK”, Vitaly Ivanov. — Based on the system of the great Croatian psychologist and psychiatrist Vladimir Hudolin. Our groups are called “self help groups”. There are people experience, the knowledge derived from this experience — and the Holy Spirit. No psychotherapeutic techniques no, we don’t even have that right: to be treated, if necessary, have the doctor-a professional.

This is a system of self – help and mutual aid — that is, “just to chat” — pulled out of dependence and Vitaly. In his life was alcohol and — when trying to quit soft drugs. But the dependence as such was too the counter and threatened the most serious medical trouble. “I will not leave you will die!” — said Ivanov, another doctor pulled him from the world. And he began to look for ways on how to quit.

— About five years I moved on their own, but to overcome this passion could not, — says Ivanov. And only when I got to the club, when he appeared to answer to anyone every week — I got to give once a vow not to drink. And never break it.

…Praising Daria, all turn to the next participant — Galina Stepanovna. She had problems with alcohol is not, but her son any more. Before proceeding to business, the entire group listens to a stream of curses: and the son spends money, and girls leads… And finally, fear — almost animal: burn the apartment, and then maybe sell! Where in his old age to live then?!

— Look, Galina Stepanovna into Svetlana, a constant visitor to the group (just pulled out of months of hard drinking husband). — Have you heard of the psychological borders? You need to install them: for example, there is one he drives is his business, but if he drives to your apartment, you can be against it! And most importantly: don’t talk to him drunk and wait till you’re sober!

Yes, of course I do and so it is with diplomacy! — nods to Galina Stepanovna. Listens to all advice, even records. But in the eyes: unlikely to be able to perform. Son — clearly a complex man, and his mother a psychologist unimportant… Well, Yes let’s hope for the best!

To hit the bottom

Alcoholism is a chemical and psychological dependence, which medication is adjusted first, and then behavioral — says “MK” psychologist and coach Adrian IMI. — The efficiency of the treatment in all practices is quite low, usually no more than 15-20%. We usually have three components: isolation of the client from the usual lifestyle with access to alcohol, medications and psychotherapy.

According to experts, it is impossible to work with the psychological reasons, yet have access to chemical substances and dependence on them. But the common people “decided to quit” often provokes a withdrawal syndrome, which can even cause death of the dependent.

— And you, Galina Stepanovna, try not to cook him food, once he drinks, advises lead. — Let him realize how deeply can fail, if you continue to drink!

Really? Well! That’s made him today meatballs — it does not give the same!.. — in the eyes of Galina stepanovny lit the flame: it is clear that this method she knew better.

Psychiatrists know this method and call it “hitting the bottom” says Adrian IMI. Very often the relatives who will protect us from shame, I do not allow drinking person to face the consequences: clean the traces of alcoholism, a conclusion from hard drinking and so on. Failure to do so leads to a sharp decrease in the quality of life of the dependent, which in some cases helps him to realize how terrible the effects of alcohol.

Having Galina Stepanovna, the moderator gives the floor to the next participant of the group. Ivan is so not similar to the alcoholic as possible. Just so happens a couple of years ago, he was a great favorite work from morning to night, constant trips and travel, time for Hobbies — Skeet shooting… And now we have nothing, but there are binges every few months and a beautiful wife — here she is, sitting next.

— I made my choice, I have no regrets, smiles, Ivan, well-groomed young man with the shoulders of an athlete and a beard Alyosha Popovich. But sometimes I walk past the bar and think that I can’t mug drink?..

— And all disappears for a few days! — confirms Sophia, his wife.

Here suggest a bit — and what can you recommend? Sophia please give my husband a little more freedom of Ivan are convinced that it is better to go hunting or shooting, than to drink… But I think this couple came here together. They have yet to understand and deal with each other, and the alcohol which frightens the newlyweds, only a symptom.

Passion and dependence

— We struggle not only with alcoholism but with other passions, says after the group Vitaly Ivanov. Drug abuse, gambling addiction — socially dangerous things. But all the other passions, less heavy, has the same structure. Sobriety is freedom from passions…

What in Orthodox language, “passion”, something psychologists have called “dependencies”. Easy, too easy way of getting high. “The problem is, says Adrian IMI that alcoholics and other addictions tend to do addiction of all: food, cigarettes, relationships, even good deeds.”

— So, — says the psychologist — theoretically there is a danger that a religious group sobriety may exacerbate the situation: religion may be no treatment, and a new kind of addiction, turning a man into a religious fanatic.

— There are a number of signs of degradation — continues Adrian IMI. — Reducing the number of issues and interests, narrowing circle of friends, trying to convert everyone to their faith, intolerance of loved ones, the destruction of old relations, loss of motivation to move to a new… If this happens, it is likely that the person is not in rehab, and loses himself.

The danger of this may be — but sitting with tea and a heart to heart talk on a given topic so far from the religious fanaticism that seems, in this case, this danger can be neglected.


The sobriety movement in Russia began from the bottom with the peasant communities of the mid-nineteenth century that are concerned with alcoholism in the villages. In fact, the mass addiction to hard liquor in Russia is said to have originated then, with the abolition of serfdom and the mass Exodus to work in the city. The state as a whole the idea of temperance societies supported, but sensitive about any attempt to spread the ideology of sobriety.

One of the most successful projects of temperance societies were communities of “Churikova” — followers of a disciple of Leo Tolstoy, “brother Ioann” Churikov. Supporters of absolute sobriety and spiritual life are combined for mutual help and support each other, and this network has proved so durable that it even survived the October revolution (house of the fraternity in Vyritsa near St. Petersburg — photo) . However, in 1929, Churikova was arrested and shot, communities soon also gave the red light: it all looked so UN-Christian. But they tried to be loyal to the Soviets — even the portraits of Lenin were hung next to the icons!

One of the recent incarnations of the state ideas — Union voluntary society struggle for sobriety that existed in the years 1985-90. “One of the chiefs decided that we in the Institute to organize the first fully sober team, — told the “MK” Muscovite Elena Separately. — We were promised for joining the society to change the furniture in the room. A couple of times we even celebrated the wedding with drinks no stronger than beer (went, not very happy). A couple of years it was all over. By the way, the furniture we have not changed”.

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