It isn’t everyday that religious leaders choose to open their lives fully to those who look up to them as spiritual guides. Doing so might mean a loss of trust or even a loss of command over their congregation with adherents organizing to lobby for the removal of a person they feel has fallen from grace.
But not so with a young rabbi from New Jersey.
Rabbi Michael Perice told his Burlington County congregation Monday that he has been in recovery from opioid addiction for 10 years and hopes to help lift the stigma on people experiencing substance use disorder or other mental health challenges.
Perice hopes to use his experience struggling to overcome opioids to encourage others to get help and to invite family members and congregants to dial back shame-based perspectives that fuel stigmas about mental illness and drug addiction.
“I told my congregation the reason I’m sharing this is because they trust me every day with the most vulnerable parts of their lives. What would it mean if I couldn’t trust them the way they trust me?”
We hope to see more religious leaders coming forward with the real struggles of their lives in ways that aren’t used for profit but are used to help those who are so ashamed to come forward to get the help, love and care they desperately need.
You can read the full interview with the Rabbi on The Philadelphia Inquirer.