Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is OCCHY?
A:OCCHY stands for Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth. This youth initiative is a national effort to strengthen our Orthodox Christian youth and the people who surround them. Under the supervision of Metropolitan PHILIP, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, and that of the leadership of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, OCCHY works with Antiochian Orthodox Christian parishes to develop local coalitions to serve the geographic area of each parish and each diocese.
Q: What is a Parish Community Coalition?
A: A Parish Community Coalition is a group of leaders in an Orthodox Christian community working together with their local secular community partners. The group is comprised of at least twelve leaders, teachers, business owners, health providers, parents and youth.
Q: How do Parish Community Coalitions help the local community?
A: Coalitions use creative strategies and community resources to build healthier, safer neighborhoods. The twelve-member team and community leaders build neighborhood relations in a collaborative effort to reach their goals.
Q: How will local coalitions select the community drug interventions they will use in their neighborhoods?
A: Local coalitions can use a variety of different assessment methods to study their community. Since the twelve-member sector team consists of law enforcement, health care professionals, business and civic representatives and school educators, the task of obtaining statistics and studying environmental issues is divided amongst the members. Once the assessment is completed, the coalition team (which includes a parent and a teen) uses evidence-based methods as well as new strategies offered through the resources of the OCCHY National Office as well as methods and strategies brainstormed within their coalition meetings.
First, the local coalition will assess the current situation on the ground. They will look at studies done in the community on substance use and abuse through youth surveys, hospital emergency instances of injuries related to substance use, police records of DUI arrests and other substance-related incidences, in addition to other relevant data on the ground including interviews with young people and others in the community.
Once the local coalition assesses what substances appear to be the main problems of the community, they will further work to find the root causes - why, in their location these particular abuses are happening. After discovering which problems are most prevalent and what the underlying causes are, they will employ evidence-based community intervention methods to reduce substance use and abuse, and to change attitudes and behaviors.
Q. What is the most dangerous drug to our youth?
A. The most dangerous drug to our youth is whatever drug they are not equipped to refuse beyond its proper and appropriate use. Some drugs are simply more accessible than others, some are more addictive, some are more socially acceptable, some drugs we do not yet know the proper use God intended for them.
If our youth are not equipped to use prescription drugs in accordance with their indications and under a physician’s guidance, then prescription drugs are a danger to them until we remediate that. If our youth are not equipped to fully understand the effects of alcohol abuse on their developing bodies, if they are not equipped to act in their own best interest regarding alcohol and social pressures to abuse it, then alcohol is a danger to them until they are equipped to have respect for the proper and appropriate uses of alcohol.
Drugs, like most things in this world, become dangerous to the degree that they are misused. Our role as Orthodox Christians is to restore the things of this world to their holy and proper use. When we equip our youth to only use drugs appropriately, to understand the benefits and limitations of those substances, to understand that often the answers to their needs are not substances at all, then our youth will no longer be endangered by any of those drugs.
Q. Is there a way for Catholic or Protestant groups to participate in this initiative?
A. Yes, any community with the goal to better the environment in which their children live is able to participate. There will be a level of cooperative efforts with other faith-based groups where Orthodox Christian clergy and Coalition Coordinators on our coalitions will work cooperatively with the faith community to help in these efforts.
Q. Is the Hookah or Argileh safer than cigarettes?
A. The Hookah exposes users to all the risks of cigarette use and exposes users to other risks as well...read more
Q. What are Depressants?
A. Depressants are endogenous compounds that act as sedatives and slow down the central nervous system. Depressants can slow down normal brain function.
Read more about the facts of Depressants...
Q. What Biblical verses are relevant to drug prevention?A. From time to time we will post biblical verses relevant to drug prevention. Here are three verses you can use to get started:
1 Cor. 6:19
Do you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Q. What prayers can we offer our loved ones who are struggling with substance abuse?
A. The first thing you can do is maintain a daily prayer life of your own to keep up your physical and emotional strength and deepen your own faith in order to help those in need. Then, add intercessory prayers and prayers of well-being for the ill and suffering around you. Next, bring short prayers of comfort and healing to the suffering person, one or two line prayers that can easily be memorized and used at any time.
- The Jesus Prayer, “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.”
- From The Orthodox Study Bible, the following prayer can be recited before going to sleep: “Into Your hands, O Lord Jesus Christ, I commend my spirit and body; bless me, save me, and grant me eternal life. Amen.”
Using a small Pocket Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians or printed on an Icon card, recite a prayer for help and recovery.
- A Prayer for the sick, “O Holy Father, heavenly Physician of our souls and bodies, who hast sent thine Only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to heal all our ailments and deliver us from death: do thou visit and heal thy servant N., granting him/her release from pain and restoration to health and vigor, that he/she may give thanks unto thee and bless thy holy Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages and ages. Amen.”
The following prayer from The Orthodox Study Bible can be read with a loved one or left with the suffering person to read privately.
- “O Christ our God, who at all times and in every hour in heaven and on earth are worshipped and glorified; who are longsuffering, merciful, and compassionate; who love the just and show mercy upon sinners; who call all to salvation through the promise of the good things to come; O Lord, in this hour receive our supplications and direct our lives according to Your Commandments. Sanctify our souls, purify our bodies, correct our thoughts, cleanse our minds; deliver us from all tribulation, evil, and distress. Surround us with Your holy angels, so that guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the Faith and to the full knowledge of Your unapproachable glory. For You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.”
- Psalm 51, which begins:
“Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your loving-kindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.”
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
A Prayer of St. Philaret of Moscow
O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray. And You, Yourself, pray in me. Amen.