August 15, 2022

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A young New Jersey rabbi reveals to his flock that he has been in recovery from opioid addiction for a decade – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Rabbi Michael Perice informed his Burlington County, N.J., congregation Monday that he has been in r.......

Rabbi Michael Perice informed his Burlington County, N.J., congregation Monday that he has been in relaxationoration from opioid behavior for 10 years and hopes To assist enhance the stigma on people experiencing substance abuse dysfunction or completely diffelease psychological well being challenges.

Perice, 35, of Philadelphia, made the disclosure all by way of a Zoom name with Greater than 80 members of Temple Sinai in Cinnaminson, the place he was named rabbi in 2020.

About half of the 130 households Inside the congregation halficipated Inside the 40-minute name, all by way of which their rabbi informed them he “innocently and traginamey” turned Counting on prescription achekillers after a automotive accident in 2007. He said opioids dominated his life till he started medinamey assisted behavior remedy in April 2011.

“I informed my congregation The rationale I’m sharing It is as a Outcome of they notion me Daily with In all probability the most vulnerin a place parts of their lives,” Perice said after The choice. “What Wouldn’t it imply if I mightn’t notion them The biggest method they notion me?

“I used to be overwhelmed by the assist that this group confirmed me,” he said. “I’ve heard from probably 50 people, sharing particular personal tales, congratulations, All of the good Beprolongedings You’d hope To Take heed to after sharing one factor like this.”

Recovery has “opened me As a lot as A complete world of prospects” and was integral to his turning Proper into a rabbi, said Perice. He envisions Temple Sinai getting lively in instructional and advocacy efforts round behavior factors.

“When the rabbi informed me Prematurely what he needed to say, I assumed it was An excellent idea,” said Johanna Schoss, president of the Temple Sinai board.

“For somebody Simply like the chief of our group, for whom people Have already acquired A lot of respect, To admit to having gone by way of a state of affairs like this, it Signifies that completely diffelease people don’t Want to be afraid To Converse about it,” said Schoss, 60, who lives in Moorelaxationown.

Said quick previous board president Stacey Blacker: “I had tears in my eyes as I watched particular person reactions to whOn the rabbi said all by way of his presentation, And that i used to be transferd by the people I heard from afterwards.”

The reactions “are According to how We now have embraced the rabbi and his spouse, Rachael, And the method They’ve embraced us,” said Blacker, 53, of Manahawkin.

Addiction “Continues to be one factor That is Thought-about taboo, However when our rabbi and our group Might Help in any method, it’s large,” she said.

Some member of he congregation had speculated thOn the meeting, billed as a group dialog, was organized so Perice might announce he and his spouse, Who’ve been house-searching in New Jersey, had purchased A house, have been having a baby, And even that he Can be leaving his submit.

“I informed them The rationale was The exact reverse of leaving,” said the rabbi, who furtherly provided reassurance that he and Rachael “really feel assisted, liked, and notioned.” And congregation members who spoke after him on The choice affirmed that these feelings are certainly mutual, he said.

During earlier interviews with an Inquirer reporter, Perice described his increpsychological journey into opioid dependency. He said he was neither A daily drinker nor a leisure drug consumer (”pot made me paranoid”) when A doctor prescribed Vicodin for the excruciating neck, shoulder, and decrease again accidents he suffered when the automotive he was driving was rear-Led to 2007, when he was 21.

“We didn’t know then what All of us know now” Regarding the abuse potential of extremely effective prescription opiates, said Perice, who initially took the medicine as directed.

“It didn’t just seemingly repair the ache at first,” he said. “I had been Dealing with nervousness and melancholy, and [the drug] gave me virtually A Technique of peace. It took amethod the angst about school and jobs. And one factor in my mind said, ‘I need extra of this.’”

However the bodily ache worsened, even Since the dosages enhanced. Finally, the prescribing doctor refused to Log off on any further achekillers. Perice started doctor-buying And have become more and more preoccupied with sustaining his new regular — and Heading off what he described Since the “hell” of withdrawal.

“I informed myself, ‘I can’t be an addict,’” he said. “I used to be getting it from A doctor. I had respectable ache. How Am i in a place to be an addict?

“However after two years Glided by, doctors have been Not Shut to prescribing what I needed. I needed To Search out completely diffelease strategies — nameing pals and acquaintances, going into medicine cupboards and checking the placever I might get it.

“That’s As quickly as I used to be launched to Oxycontin, which is A very extremely effective opiate. That wSince the medicine I used to be most livelyly using till The prime.”

In the early spring of 2011, Perice was dwelling in an ahalfment in Haddonfield. Nobody he knew had any Oxycontin; he was strung out and detime periodined to stave off withdrawal.

“My pores and skin felt Choose it was burning,” he said. “I used to be in A nasty method And that i referred to as somebody, who has since died, and said ‘I need one factor, somefactor.’ He said, ‘I acquired you.’

“About an hour later he acquired here to my ahalfment,” the rabbi said. “This half Is strong for me to share … he launched me a bag of heroin, and left. I had by no implys carried out heroin, And that i used to be in a state. I used to be indignant at God. I used to be apores and sking, ‘Why Is that this occurring to me?’

“I’m Inside The relaxation room. I Take A look On the bag, and it’s acquired the Hulk on it. The comic e-book character. It was a second I can solely describe as a second of readability. I used to be Able to see that if I did this, I might die.

“I just flushed it down The toilet, referred to as my mom and father, and said, ‘I Want assist.’”

Perice entered prolonged-time period medinamey assisted outpatient remedy with an anti-craving medicine. He furtherly started counseling and underwent bodily remedy.

“I used to be fortunate. My household had the assets For particular personal remedy,” he said. “Treatment saved me, However it didn’t give my life objective. Re-discovering my religion gave me objective.”

Perice had Discover your self to be disillusioned with Judaism after his Cherry Hill rabbi, Fred Neulander, was convicted in 2002 Inside the homicide-for-lease of his spouse, Carol Neulander.

After he was, in his phrases, “liberated” from opioids, Perice, a 2004 Cherry Hill Highschool East graduate with a B.A. in political science from Temple College, considered going to regulation school. He dabbled a bit in politics.

However working Inside the household enterprise — his mcompletely diffelease, Eileen Perice, is Vice chairman of the Goldstein’s Rosenberg’s Raphael Sacks funeral houses — implyt he had many alternatives to comfort and pray with mourners. His mcompletely diffelease had On A daily basis said he’d make A great rabbi, and he started Excited Regarding the rabbinate.

Perice entered Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote in 2014 and was ordained in June 2020. He turned Temple Sinai’s spiritual chief on July 1, 2020.

He and Rachael have been married final August. The rabbi consulted his spouse; his mcompletely diffelease; and his father, Salvatore Perice, As properly as to chiefs of Temple Sinai, earlier than finalizing his choice to go public.

“Before The choice, I used to be strolling round my house and stored saying to my spouse, ‘Typinamey You Ought to have braveness and take a leap Of religion.’ I said it As quickly as extra and again.”

However, Through The choice members of the congregation noticed a youthful spiritual chief who was composed, candid, and inspirational. Sharing An important fact about his life “was A very extremely effective second for me, and for my group. I used to be hopeful that It Could be,” Perice said.

“However there are A lot of feelings Regarding The drawback [of behavior] On the earth. Many people have Dealt with this Inside their households.

“Addiction causes ache For everyone round [the particular person dwelling in behavior]. So it’s important To assist people transfer by way of that ache,” said the rabbi.

“By eradicating the stigma and getting people assist early, We’d assist them, and their households, heal.”