Faith-Based Addiction Recovery

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 21 million Americans struggle with drug or alcohol abuse. Each person’s story is unique to them and their situation. Some who struggle with substance abuse might consider themselves a person of faith, and their struggles might make them afraid to ask for help because they feel they have acted against their religious beliefs.

For example, someone of the Christian faith may interpret their alcohol or drug addiction as a sin, leading them to feel shame and reluctance toward asking for help. Faith-based addiction recovery works explicitly for those who want to involve a higher power in their treatment program.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that impacts the areas that control pleasure, memory, and motivation. When someone suffers from dependence or addiction (also known as substance use disorder), their brain is so reliant on that substance that it can’t function properly without it.

While addiction treatment tends to focus on alcohol or drug abuse, it is possible to be addicted to something other than substances. A non-substance of abuse addiction is known as a behavioral addiction.

Many addiction recovery centers can also provide treatment for behavioral addictions, such as:

  • Gambling addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Sex or pornography addiction
  • Exercise addiction
  • Social media addiction

Understanding Faith-Based Programs

Some people lose faith when battling addiction. Regardless of their religion or beliefs, they might reach a point where they feel completely alone.

Some people might practice a religion where drug or alcohol addiction is considered something to be ashamed of or even a sin.

Faith-based recovery helps those on both ends of the spectrum. It can help restore faith in God or a higher power, and it can also help teach the person struggling how to incorporate God in their recovery process.

What is Faith-Based Recovery?

Faith-based recovery combines traditional addiction treatment with a spiritual component. Counselors and therapists at faith-based treatment centers focus on addiction treatment alongside teachings and wisdom from their faith. For instance, Christian rehab programs may include daily prayer as part of their program.

Faith-based treatment programs are similar to 12-step programs. Both focus on not just spirituality but also the importance of community and the bonds it can create.

Having spiritual conversations and reflections in a group environment can remind individuals in treatment that it is ok to ask for help and that they aren’t alone.

Unlike traditional treatment facilities, faith-based facilities provide all patients a space to go and pray. Some facilities even offer religious services for their patients with the theme of recovery, such as bible study.

How Does Faith-Based Recovery Help with Addiction?

Faith-based recovery programs use the spiritual side to encourage recovery and continued sobriety. They help the patient realize that while it might feel like they are alone, they aren’t. They use spirituality and God to remind those in recovery that they will always have support as long as they have faith.

The support goes beyond just spirituality. A significant component of faith-based recovery is community. Everyone who enters a faith-based recovery program is there for the same reason and with the same goals.

This support system allows everyone in the program to reflect and discuss their issues with like-minded people who share the same goal. This support system can continue to benefit each group member long after completing treatment and returning to their regular lives.

Overview of Addiction Treatment Programs

Faith-based substance abuse treatment is structured similarly to any secular alcohol or drug rehab program. From secular programs to Christian addiction treatment centers, the level of care provided will be the same.

Generally speaking, the outline of treatment is:

  • Medical Detox
  • Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment Program
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment
  • Aftercare (including ongoing therapy, 12-step programs, etc.)

Detoxification

Sometimes, the first step of your new sober life will include a supervised detoxification process or medical detox. When your body suddenly stops receiving a chemical it has become used to, you will usually experience some form of withdrawal.

Certain substances—including benzodiazepines and alcohol—have dangerous withdrawal symptoms. People recovering from addiction to these substances need medical intervention to ensure their safety. The good news is that in most cases, you can complete a medical detox program from the comfort of your home under the direction of a medical doctor or certified addiction counselor.

Rehab Programs

Many people often think of inpatient treatment programs when they picture rehab. Inpatient treatment facilities offer the highest level of care. Recovering addicts will check in at an inpatient facility where they live for 30 to 90 days. Patients receive medical monitoring, medication management, therapy, and additional support.

Similarly, outpatient treatment programs offer therapy, medication management, and additional education (such as nutrition or wellness coaching). However, patients that enroll in outpatient treatment aren’t required to live at a facility.

Both inpatient and outpatient programs typically offer individual and group therapy sessions. Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is the most common form of counseling provided—including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

A faith-based rehab program will likely include tenets of that particular faith alongside overall treatment.

Examples of faith-based rehab options may include:

  • Group prayer
  • Religious instruction (e.g., Bible study, Torah study, etc.)
  • Worship services

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Your doctor may prescribe a pharmaceutical drug to help you through withdrawal. Some of these medications reduce cravings for drugs or alcohol, while others minimize or eliminate the effects of the substance even if you were to take it. Some people continue this medication-assisted treatment throughout their recovery process.

Aftercare

Aftercare is the name of the programs and support groups that recovering addicts may participate in after completing their initial rehab program. Patients may continue individual counseling, work with a 12-step program, or join local support groups centered around addiction recovery.

Faith-based aftercare might include gathering with other recovering addicts for prayer groups, religious studies, outreach programs, and more. Your local church, mosque, temple, or religious community may offer special programs for recovering addicts.

How to Find Christian and Other Spiritual Recovery Options

Are you or your loved one seeking faith-based addiction recovery services?

You can speak with someone at your place of worship (church, mosque, temple, etc.) to see if they offer faith-based addiction treatment. You can also ask if they have any treatment facilities that they recommend.

Online resources, such as SAMHSA’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (FBCI), can be helpful if you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to your place of worship. Since 1992, FCBI has supported mental health, substance abuse, and addiction treatment at the local, state, and national levels.

Types of Spiritual Recovery Options

There are a variety of spiritual and faith-based recovery options out there. While many will be specific to a particular religion, they all share the common goal of helping those struggling with substance abuse and addiction.

Some popular faith-based programs include:

  • 12-Step Programs: Free programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are non-denominational faith and spirituality-based programs based on 12 sequential steps. These programs focus on relying on a higher power to help with recovery.
  • Christians in Recovery: This organization focuses on addictions of all kinds. They focus on helping the addict regain balance in their life through the bible and the 12-step program.
  • Celebrate Recovery: Celebrate Recovery is a Christian-centered recovery program incorporating the original 12-step program and biblical scripture.
  • Jewish Addiction Awareness Network: Also known as JAAN, this organization provides resources and tools to help those struggling with addiction in the Jewish Community. They provide information on Jewish-specific treatment centers and programs throughout the United States.
  • Alcoholics for Christ: Alcoholics for Christ is an interdenominational, non-profit organization that provides support for not just addicts but also the family members of the addict. The goal is to help the addict and those around them restore their faith in religion.
  • Catholics in Recovery: Catholics in Recovery is a nonprofit organization helping those suffering from all types of addictions, both substance and behavioral. The organization utilizes the 12-step program as well as the sacramental love and mercy of the Catholic Church.
  • Refuge Recovery: Refuge Recovery is a book by bestselling author and renowned Buddhist teacher Noah Levine. In the book, Levine adapts the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and Eight Fold Path into a proven and systematic approach to recovery.

Are You Looking For a Faith-Based Recovery Program?

Whether you or a loved one needs help with a substance abuse problem, you can find help that meets your unique needs—including rehab programs and support groups that center around your religious views.

Call the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or visit their online program locator to find faith-based addiction treatment options in your area.

Reviewed by:Chris Carberg

Addiction Guide Founder & Mental Health Advocate

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Chris Carberg is a visionary digital entrepreneur, the Founder of Addiction Guide, and a long-time recovering addict from prescription opioids, sedatives, and alcohol.  Over the past 15 years, Chris has worked as a tireless advocate for addicts and their loved ones, while becoming a sought-after digital entrepreneur. Chris is a storyteller and aims to share his story with others in the hopes of helping them achieve their own recovery.

Written by:

Content Manager

Jessica Miller is a USF graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She has written professionally for over a decade, from HR scripts and employee training to business marketing and company branding. In addition to writing, Jessica spent time in the healthcare sector (HR) and as a high school teacher. She has personally experienced the pitfalls of addiction and is delighted to bring her knowledge and writing skills together to support our mission. Jessica lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband and two dogs.

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