Jewish Journal

Webcast: Shamsian breaking taboos in L.A.’s Iranian Jewish community

by Karmel Melamed

May 17, 2010 | 2:11 pm

During the course of the last 20 years, Dr. Iraj Shamsian has been one Los Angeles’ most outspoken Iranian American psychologists and experts in drug addiction. Originally hailing from the Iranian Jewish community, Shamsian was once an addict himself at one time living on skid row in Downtown L.A. before finding sobriety and helping others. His work has been focused on helping Iranian Americans of various religions in the area who have either been struggling with drugs and alcohol directly or with family members of addicts.

The topic of alcohol and drug abuse is one that has traditionally been taboo for Iranian Americans and especially Iranian Jews to discuss because of the shame associated with both diseases. However, Shamsian though his private practice, his appearances on local Persian language radio and his own satellite TV program “Ayenay” have taken on these taboos and openly discussed them. Our webcast program sat down with Shamsian earlier this month before he spoke about drug and alcohol addiction at the Beverly Hills-based Iranian “Nessah Synagogue” in Beverly Hills. Here is our interview with him….

My 2006 article on Iranian Jewish drug addition issues can be found here.


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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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