Alcohol and other drugs

Drugs refer to substances that change the way the brain works and affect how a person thinks, behaves and feels. Many people have tried alcohol or other drugs for a variety of reasons. However, it is easy to underestimate the effects that they have on the body and mind.

All drugs have adverse effects and if you are considering using a drug it is important that you know how it will affect your body both in the short and long term.

As well as impacting on your health, drug and alcohol use may lead to other problems for example, relationship breakdown, violence, crime and financial strain.

A person using drugs regularly and over a period of time can result in physical and psychological dependence. Subsequently, they need to have more of the drug/alcohol to have the same effect.

Continued drug/alcohol use occurs even when there are negative consequences to one’s health, relationships, work and finances.

If you are finding that your drug/alcohol use is too frequent, or that you and others are recognising the negative effects on you, it could be helpful for you to talk to someone for example, a counsellor. Your readiness and co-operation in counselling is essential. The counsellor will work with you to attain your goals.

Detoxification is part of the process. Many lifestyle adjustments are required to maintain a drug/alcohol free existence. These changes may require social and psychological support.
Many people are affected in different ways by the drug/alcohol use of someone close to them. They go through a range of emotions, as does the person who is using. These feelings may include sadness, guilt, fear, disappointment etc.

It is important to remember that it is not possible to stop someone from using drugs/alcohol or to force them to seek treatment. This must be the decision of the person using these. The person using these however, must not be protected from the consequences of their drug/alcohol use. For family members, it could be helpful to find support for themselves and to be better informed about drug/alcohol use.

Your family doctor may be of assistance with treatment and referral. The Greek Welfare Centre may be contacted for information and support.

Useful websites:

* radar.org.au
* health.nsw.gov.au
* fds.org.au
* adf.org.au
* addictionresource.com
* healthfinder.gov
* quitalcohol.com
* using faith and religion in recovery

Caring for the Aged

Caring for the Aged; The Impact on the Individual and the Family

For generations, Greek Australian families have spent a great part of their lives raising awareness of their Greek heritage and culture to their children. Families within the Greek society are close, with people caring for their parents as well as their children and grandchildren in a supportive home environment. Greek families believe that it is a matter of cultural pride and their duty to care for their ageing, frail or ill family member. Their attitudes toward ageing are shaped by social and cultural norms. For some Greeks, the available services are perceived as not being culturally appropriate and/or not meeting the expectations of the family, and their reluctance to request for help in fear of humiliation has often led to the carer to care for their loved one to the point of exhaustion. However, neglecting to do this initiates a sense of guilt and shame upon the family and/or mistrust and fear associated with early institutionalised care.

The changing face and needs of the Greek Australian ageing community

There are enormous life changes for the individual and their family members. When the realisation of change takes place it is essential that the family have access to service providers who offer a range of programs and activities that will foster emotional, communication, social and spiritual support, in addition to health and personal care assistance.

While the earlier generations experienced the hardships of migration, separation from their homeland and families, and resettlement in a new country, they have not experienced the stress brought on by care giving responsibilities that their spouse or adult offspring have been subjected to.

To meet the health and community needs of the Greek Australian ageing population and the care giver/s, we need to explore and provide services that are flexible, respond to diversity and understand the changes in care relationships. Our aim is to help navigate the care recipient and care giver to health and community services so that they are better equipped to make their choices and to have their needs met. A few of the challenges families need to cope with are: deterioration of health, isolation and depression, communication and language barriers, cultural perceptions around personal care and long waiting lists.

Summary of services supporting care relationships

The services aim to provide basic support to the frail and older population and to carers. Some of these services include, counselling and information, service care co-ordination, community care, residential care, respite care, health services and interpreting services.

Organisations

Greek Welfare Centre
St Basil’s Homes

A full range of support services to suit particular needs can be accessed by contacting, Commonweath Carelink Services and the Aged Care Information Line.

What to Do When a Loved One Dies

Whether a death follows a prolonged illness, is sudden or unexpected, or is the natural end to a long and satisfying life, the loss of a friend or family member is always difficult. The death of someone we love can be the most distressing experience of our lives.

Death affects us in various ways including physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.

Many people report feeling an initial stage of numbness after leaning of a death. Grief is the sad and painful emotion experienced when a loved one dies. Grief is individual and personal, some common symptoms include:

• Difficulty eating and sleeping
• Frequent crying
• Irritability
• Inability to focus or be productive

Some feelings that are common at this time include:

• Shock
• Denial
• Sadness
• Anger
• Guilt
• Despair

Everyone grieves at a different pace. We need to be patient with ourselves and give ourselves the time we need.

It is important to remember that it takes time to accept the impact of a major loss. Over time the pain eases but we continue to mourn our loved ones, even if many years pass.

Grieving and mourning are natural processes which helps us to accept a significant loss.

It is important that we allow ourselves to express whatever feelings we have to help us cope with our grief. There are many things we can do for example:

• Be with people who are caring and understand our feelings
• Talk to people about our feelings
• Physical care, eg eating well and rest
• Seek outside help

For more information and support you may contact the Greek Welfare Centre.

Useful websites:

* beyoundblue.org.au
* funeralresources.com.au
* grief.org.au
* nalagic.org.au

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Warning Signs of Debt Problems

Debt isn’t something that just happens as you go about your daily routines. There are certain spending habits that lead to debt. Recognizing these habits now could save a lot of money and stress later.

1. Spending more money than you make: This doesn’t sound logically possible. If you only make $1,000 a month, how could you possibly spend $1,200 in a month? It’s easier than you think. So easy, you might be doing it. Dipping into savings, borrowing from others, and using credit are the primary ways of spending more money than you bring in. You might be able to get away with doing this for a few weeks or months, but soon, your hole-digging spending habits will catch up with you. Before you know it, your savings is depleted, your credit cards are maxed out, and you can’t borrow any more money.

2. Spending money you don’t have: Usually, spending more money than you make is enabled by spending money you don’t have, by using credit cards and taking out loans. When you use these instruments to pay bills and make purchases, you’re creating debt. If you can’t repay the debt each month, it will continue to grow.

3. Using credit for ordinary purchases: You should use cash to make everyday purchases like groceries, gas, clothes, and entertainment. The appeal of credit cards is the ability to pay later for items that you buy now. Using credit instead of cash is a bad habit, especially when you don’t pay your credit card bills in full each month.

4. Using credit when you have cash: One of the quickest ways to get into debt is to choose to use credit when you have the cash to make a purchase. People do this with a “something for nothing” type of mindset. They want to receive the goods (or services) but they don’t want to pay for them. The convenience of leaving your money in your wallet comes at a cost. Chances are, if you don”t want to pay for it today, you’re not going to want to pay for it tomorrow.

5. Using debt to pay off debt: When you use credit cards to pay off other cards and loans to pay off other loans you’re not paying off anything. You’re just shuffling your debt around and incurring more debt each time you do so. Balance transfers have transaction fees and most loans have some kind of down payment or origination fee. So when you use debt to pay off debt, you end up worse off than when you began.

If you have found yourself over your head in debt, consider seeing a financial counsellor for guidance and advice. You may contact the Greek Welfare Centre for support and referral.

Useful websites:
* credit about
* Australiandebtcounsellors.com.au

Depression

Everyone goes through tough times at different points in their lives and feels down or sad. The term depression is sometimes used to describe the normal sadness or low mood people feel if they’ve had to cope with a stressful event or problem, such as the death of a loved one or a relationship break-up. Depression is also the name for an illness that is more severe than normal sadness, lasts longer than two weeks, and interferes with other parts of your life, such as work, school or relationships.

Some factors that may cause depression:

• Genetics or a history of depression within your family.
• Biochemical: where the mood regulating neurotransmitters fail to function normally.
• A stressful event or chain of events: family break-up, abuse, ongoing bullying at school, rape, a death, a relationship break up, family conflict
• Some personality types are more at risk of depression than others: people who tend to be anxious, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists or are shy.
• Having a baby (called post-natal depression).
• Other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

Some common symptoms across all types of depression include:

Mood

Feeling sad, moody, hopeless, helpless, numb, empty, anxious, and guilty, blaming yourself or being unable to feel good or enjoy things that you do normally

Thinking

Being overly self-critical; believing you can’t cope and that things are out of your control; difficulty making decisions and thinking clearly; poor concentrating and memory; thinking about suicide or ending your life

Behaviour

Lack of motivation and energy; crying a lot; losing interest in activities you usually enjoy; withdrawing from your friends and family or being overly dependent on them; increased use of alcohol or other drugs; losing your temper more than usual

Physical

Loss of appetite or over-eating; changes in sleep patterns – difficulty getting to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night or sleeping for longer; headaches or stomach aches; feeling physically sick; lack of interest in physical intimacy Everyone experiences some of these feelings or behaviours from time to time. However, for people experiencing depression the feelings might be more severe and they do not go away over time.

If you are concerned that you are experiencing depression it is a good idea to see your local doctor or a counsellor. The Greek Welfare Centre can assist with assessment, counselling and referral to specialist services.

Useful websites:

* beyond blue
* consellingonline.org.au
* good therapy
* natural theraphy pages

DIVORCE

The Orthodox approach to the unavoidable evil of divorce is different from that of the Roman Catholic Church, because it starts with different presuppositions. The Roman Catholic approach is based on the presuppositions that marriage is a legal contract that is legally indissoluble for Christians, and that the marriage contract concerns only earthly life and is legally dissolved by the death of one of the partners.

The Orthodox approach presupposes that marriage is a Mystery conferred upon the partners in the Body of the Church through the Priest’s blessing. As any other Sacrament, it pertains to the eternal life in the Kingdom of God, and is therefore not dissolved by the death of one of the partners but is “given to them” (Matt 19:11) as an eternal bond. Another presupposition is that as a Sacrament, marriage is not a magical act, but a gift of grace. The partners, being human, may have made a mistake in soliciting the grace of marriage when they were not ready for it. In these cases, the Church may admit the fact that the grace was not “received”, tolerate separation and allow remarriage. However, the Church never encourages any remarriage, but only tolerates it when it appears as the best solution for a couple.

The condemnation of divorce by our Lord Himself is well known: For your hardness of heart, Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so. Whoever divorces his wife except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery” (c/f. Matt 19:8-9, Mark 10:2-9). However the possibility of divorce on grounds of “unchastity”, and the even more general admission by St Paul that a wife can separate herself from her husband (1 Cor 11:7 11), clearly show that the New Testament does not understand indissolubility of Marriage as total suppression of human freedom. Moreover, freedom implies the possibility of sin, as well as, its consequences; ultimately, sin can destroy marriage.

The Fathers in their great majority followed St Paul in discouraging any form of remarriage, either after widowhood or after divorce. However we have to bear in mind that civil laws which were changing from time to time were granting divorce not only on grounds of adultery but also on grounds such as political treason, planning of murder, disappearance for five years or more, unjustified accusation of adultery and finally, monastic vows of one of the partners. Nevertheless, no Church Father ever denounced these imperial laws as contrary to Christianity. Pastoral exhortations on the evil of divorce are, of course, innumerable. According to the whole history of the Orthodox Church and the writing of the Fathers, without any single exception, we can state with certainty that the Church remained faithful to the practices set by the New Testament revelation; only the first and unique marriage was blessed in Church during the Eucharist.

The Church, neither “recognized” divorce, nor “gave” it. Divorce was considered as a grave sin; but the Church never failed in giving sinners a “new chance”, and was ready to readmit them if they repented.

Practically and with full conformity with Scripture and Church Tradition, we may suggest that the Church authorities stop “giving divorces”, and rather on the basis of a recognition, based upon the civil divorce, that marriage does not in fact exist, issue “permission to remarry”. Of course, in each particular case pastoral counselling and investigation should make sure that reconciliation is impossible. Furthermore, the “permission to remarry” should entail at least some form of penance and give the right to a Church blessing according to the right of “second Marriage”.

When Gambling is a Problem?

Whilst most people gamble to relax and have fun, for some people gambling can develop into a problem. When that happens, gambling can be detrimental in a person’s life causing pain and hurt to their families, themselves and the people who care for them.

Gambling may be a problem when an individual:

• Spends more money and time on gambling than they intended
• Hides their gambling from other people and lies about their gambling
• Borrows money to pay for living expenses: phone bill, gas bill, groceries, petrol
• Losses interest in other activities (that don’t include gambling)
• Is affected in their work, or role as a parent
• Is not home as often

People with gambling problems often engage in a variety of risky behaviours such as:

• Spending more money than they intended or that they can afford to spend
• Regularly spending more time gambling than they meant to
• Building opportunities to gamble into daily routines
• Chasing their losses
• Borrowing money to gamble
• Obtaining money in unethical or illegal ways

People with gambling problems typically hold thoughts or beliefs that support their behaviour, including:

• Beliefs about fated luck
• Superstitions related to winning
• Illusions of control
• Misunderstandings about the nature of probability and randomness

If you think gambling might be turning into a problem, for yourself or someone you know, assistance and counselling is available. For more information or assistance contact the Greek Welfare Centre

Useful websites:
* problemgambling.vic.gov.au
* wesleymisssion.org.au
* relationships.com.au
* betsafe.com.au

Unemployment

The experience of unemployment brings with it many losses, as well as physical and mental health problems. Satisfactory employment has many benefits that unemployed people maybe denied. These benefits are firstly financial, but equally important are the assignment of identity and status, the increased social contact, being part of a collective purpose and joint effort, and being able to engage in regular activity.

The substantial cuts to income that many unemployed people face may result in changes to lifestyle and impact on family. Poverty maybe an outcome of unemployment and it affects physical and psychological well-being. It also reduces confidence and restricts personal empowerment.

Loss of income and resulting poverty can be especially psychologically destructive for adults, as they are likely to have financial and family commitments. For young people, failure to find satisfactory employment may adversely affect their psychological development and have negative long term consequences.

The lowered self-confidence associated with unemployment can reduce the number and types of jobs applied for, restrict the uptake of training, and inhibit engagement in self-employment.

Lack of confidence may lead to low levels of commitment, motivation and effort. Perseverance will be low, and, in particular, the capacity to persist with an activity in the face of setbacks or adversity will be greatly reduced.

Unemployed people with poor self-confidence will timidly pursue occupational possibilities, and are likely to desist altogether in the face of repeated failures. This pattern will repeat itself in other areas of these people’s lives, impinging on their ability to cope with their financial commitments and their social and family life.

If you are struggling with the debilitating effects of unemployment, please see your local GP for a referral, a counsellor. For emotional support through this difficult time, you may contact the Greek Welfare Centre.

Useful websites:
* aifs
* counselling on line
* reachout
* beyond blue
* centerlink

Abortion

Dearly beloved,

With this letter, I wish to address in particular the sensitivity and charity of all the faithful of our Archdiocese in order to remind the sacredness of human life, which apparently we have not yet taken as seriously as we should.

I do not refer to the daily actions at the expense of the bodily and spiritual health of our fellow human beings or of ourselves, for which we are certainly responsible before God.

I mean rather the hardness and criminality against human life in its still embryonic state, unable to defend itself or protest.

I mean the question of mass abortions which is silently turning our contemporary – supposedly Christian or at least humanitarian – societies into a field of invisible slaughter without anyone condemning publicly the numbers of victims and magnitude of this cruelty.

Official statistics given by the relevant state authorities claim that in New South Wales alone, during the year 1988-89 31,351 abortions took place. Of these, only 1% were necessitated by medical opinion owing to the immediate danger of the pregnant woman.

These numbers constitute a terrible sign of our behaviour in the most sacred matter in which God calls us to become His close collaborators. However, it unfortunately appears that the issue of abortion in contemporary societies has almost become a matter of routine, without any moral problematic. Otherwise one cannot explain the ease with which one decides about an abortion today, just as one decides to extract a tooth.

We must therefore remember that whatever the reason leading couples to decide to cease in a violent manner an undesired pregnancy, the good of life and of existence lies totally in God”s hands, and we must know that any intervention entangles us in a profound mystery.

Our Church, as in all similar moral issues, does not respond with a blind answer of “yes” or “no”. The first thing it says is “Stand well!” This means: “Be careful!” And when in this way one realises that one is dealing with a question of life or death – not only of physical death, but also spiritual – then one is in a position to weigh up in the fear of God both the opinion of responsible science and the advice of the spiritual confessor.

I wish and pray fervently that our faithful may see this tremendous moral subject with renewed responsibility and act in each specific case according to the sacredness of the problem.

With paternal love in the Lord

His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos
From Voice of Orthodoxy, v. 11/1-2, January-February 1990
the official publication of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia