Information on Faith-Based Substance Abuse Treatment

Created On Tuesday, 08, January 2019
Modified On Friday, 17, September 2021

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Faith-based substance use treatment programs approach alcohol and drug addiction from a spiritual, personal perspective while also focusing on physical and psychological rehabilitation. Many faith-based rehabilitation programs view an individual’s addiction as an attempt to compensate in some way for an inner sense of spiritual emptiness or lack of spiritual worth. However, there are countless reasons why someone becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. Faith-based rehabilitation programs teach those within the program how to strengthen their own spiritual foundation and personal resolve. Also, the program finds out what caused them to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. Faith-based programs focus on increasing self-worth to help overcome their need for drugs or alcohol.

Overall, spiritual substance abuse treatment programs provide the very same similar therapy and tools as any other rehabilitation facility. Faith-based treatment centers teach spiritual principles, religious morals, and encourage spiritual involvement. There is a focus on the relationship with a higher power during the healing process to achieve sobriety. The process of incorporating spirituality and faith into substance use treatment has been around for a long time. Faith-based approaches have been a successful approach in rehabilitating people from addiction throughout the years. According to a research paper published in the Journal of Religion and Health, the authors say, “it is clear that religion and spirituality—which refer to collectively as faith—are exceptionally powerful, integral and indispensable resources in substance abuse prevention and recovery” (introduction).

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There are many advantages to attending faith-based rehabilitation for drug addiction. Clients can talk to staff and other like-minded individuals about their religious and spiritual concerns. Everyone attending these programs shares similar spiritual beliefs, which provides fellowship with other believers who are going through similar problems. Most faith-based rehabilitation programs are designed for people who already have a particular religious belief. For example, a Christian drug rehab center approaches treatment and recovery from a Christian perspective. There are many different faith-based rehabilitation programs available across the nation.

The State of Substance Abuse and Addiction in the United States and How Faith and Spirituality Helps

Well-rounded rehabilitation is the best approach to help someone addicted to treatment, and this involves healing the mind, body, and spirit. Nearly one in ten Americans aged 12 or older have a substance use disorder involving alcohol or drugs. Pain medication addiction and abuse is an ongoing issue across the nation. Approximately 2.1 million Americans struggle with an opioid use disorder, and 1.8 million have a prescription drug addiction. Overall, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it is estimated that over 20 million people have a substance use disorder that involves drugs or alcohol.

Alcohol addiction is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and on average, 88,000 people die each year due to alcohol-related causes. According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths in 2019 increased by 4.6% to 70,980 deaths, including 50,042 opioid-related deaths. In 2018 there were 67,367 drug overdose deaths, which was a 4.1% decline from 2017. From 2012 through 2018, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving cocaine more than tripled, and the rate involves psychostimulants increases nearly five-fold. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has contributed to another increase in the number of overdose deaths.

The correlation between faith and recovery is important to consider because it is one of the most overlooked but effective tools to prevent and or recovery from addiction. Per the report mentioned above, faith-based treatment programs are a driving force for long-term recovery. However, overall, Americans are identifying with religious less and suffering from substance abuse more. The study in the Journal of Religion and Health found that 73% of substance abuse treatment programs incorporate spiritual components, such as 12-step treatment. These programs also have congregations through their support or recovery services. These services provide over $316 billion in savings to the U.S. economy every year.

The information found in the study indicates that those with strong religious beliefs are as much as eight times less likely to use illegal drugs and five times less likely to binge drink. Specifically, with youth, religious youth are three times less likely to binge drink and four times less likely to use illegal drugs. Approximately 62% of teens who had struggled with addiction cite staying connected with God as the top reason for staying sober after rehab. Also, higher religiosity relates to better family relations, better academic performances, and the ability to handle stress better.

According to the research, a strong faith reduces the risk of alcohol abuse, and 84% of studies show faith reduces the risk of drug abuse. However, the study stresses the need for intervention, whether medical or not, and that this is life-saving and critical for someone struggling with addiction. Faith-based organizations are uniquely capable of providing care and community necessary for long-term recovery. Staying connected to a church or a religious and or faith-based organization brings a balance and meaning to life. It provides someone in recovery an opportunity to do something good and continue to improve their own life in the process.

When is Faith-Based Rehabilitation the Best Option to Consider?

Faith-based rehabilitation is the best option to consider for anyone wanting to rediscover their faith, religion, or spirituality while treating their addiction. Rehabilitation is well-rounded and treats the mind, body, and spirit. If your religious faith is important to you, a faith-based rehabilitation facility is the best option. These programs operate from the same core values that are important within your life before the addiction. Most spiritual rehab programs are designed for people who already have a particular religious belief. Some programs combine secular and religious practices. For example, evidence-based therapy approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is common for most rehabilitation programs.

If you feel you want more of a spiritual connection during treatment, faith-based programs are the best option. Not all faith-based centers are alike, and some subscribe to a different faith or set of beliefs than others. When searching for faith-based rehabilitation programs, it important to find the one that aligns with your faith and spiritual beliefs. In addition to being comfortable with the spiritual foundation of the program, you should also ensure the treatment options are what you need to manage your addiction. For example, some programs may provide standard counseling or incorporate 12-step methods and group therapy. Other programs may incorporate holistic and non-traditional approaches, such as experiential therapy.

The Benefits of Faith-Based Rehabilitation

According to the article mentioned above within the Journal of Religion and Health, the author says, “Evidence-based studies point to the instrumental contribution of faith to substance abuse prevention and recovery. A large majority of cases show that religious and spiritual beliefs and practices lead to lower levels of substance abuse, including reduced likelihood of using various drugs in the course of a lifetime” (Faiths Relationship with Substance Abuse in General). One part of the research, in particular, focused on 278 quantitative studies. Approximately 86% of the studies found that faith reduced the risks associated with alcohol use, abuse, or dependence.

The benefits of faith-based rehabilitation include newfound happiness and freedom, serenity, and a new work outlook. Like any other form of rehabilitation, the individual becomes less selfish and less self-seeking, along with developing the ability to help others and feel useful. During rehabilitation, the individual is shown how to regret past decisions no longer. The coping skills and abilities gained to give the person the ability to handle any particular situation. Faith-based programs help people begin to let go of feelings of self-pity and no longer fear things in their lives.

How Do Faith-Based Rehabilitation Programs Operate?

Faith-based rehabilitation programs provide the same treatment options and services as other forms of rehabilitation, except for the implementation of faith, spirituality, and religion. The first step is an addiction assessment, which could be done over the phone or in-person. The purpose of an addiction assessment is to determine the extent of addiction and what faith-based treatment options are available. An assessment could be done over the phone or in-person, and it benefits the family and addict. The first step with treatment is detox, and the detoxification process would involve a medically supervised detox or conventional detox. Typically, the extent and severity of the withdrawal symptoms determine what method of detox is required.

The rehabilitation process involves standard forms of counseling and therapy but would also include prayer service, pastoral counseling, scripture, and church services. Rehabilitation programs provide long-term and short-term drug treatment options. Most long-term programs last three to six months or more, whereas short-term programs last three to six weeks. The severity and extent of addiction determine the length of time needed in a treatment program. Faith-based based programs offer individual or group counseling, 12-step services, and non-secular options. Not every faith-based rehabilitation center offers the same services and options. Some may hold up an entirely different set of beliefs or religion than your own beliefs.

Once completing treatment, the next phase involves aftercare, and this could include outpatient treatment services, support groups, sober living homes, and other forms of peer support. Many of the aftercare services offered include spirituality and faith, such as Christian halfway homes and sober living homes. Aftercare is essential because it helps ensure a smooth transition back to society again. Sober living helps recovering addicts remain connected with other like-minded spiritual people providing support. Twelve-step programs are also excellent support systems, and many are firms based on Christian beliefs.

What Are the Alternatives to Faith-Based Rehabilitation?

Alternatives to faith-based rehabilitation are non-secular forms of treatment, and these programs operate the same way as any other facility, except for the incorporation of faith and religion. When searching for treatment, it is important to find the right form of rehabilitation. Faith-based programs are effective—per the article mentioned above in the Journal of Religion and Health, a study of over 11,000 women aged 18 and older found significant reductions in alcohol and drug use. Also, research shows that a person’s effective use of the spiritual resources from their faith tradition, which is positive religious coping, contributes to better substance abuse recovery outcomes.

Positive religious coping has been shown to help maintain sobriety during the post-drug rehabilitation period. Many of the religious-based substance abuse treatment programs include those that are operated by the Salvation Army, Teen Challenge, and twelve-step groups. Also, these groups help people who are not religious or spiritual. Alternatives to faith-based rehabilitation programs also offer effective treatment resources, and holistic treatment focuses on the mind, body, and spirit.

Common Terminology with Faith-Based Substance Use Treatment

Term Definition
Faith is a strong belief in God or the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension. Faith is the basic ingredient to begin a relationship with God. Faith is also the assurance that the things revealed and promised in the Word are true.
Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, text, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations that relate humanity to supernatural transcendental or spiritual elements. Also, it is a particular system of faith and worship.
Spirituality is a broad conception with room for many perspectives. It includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for the meaning of life. It involves the belief in something beyond the self, and spirituality leads to less stress and better health.
Pastoral Counseling is a branch of counseling in which psychologically trained ministers, rabbis, priests, imams, and other persons provide therapy services. Pastoral counseling is common within a faith-based rehabilitation program.
Faith-Based Sober Living these are sober living programs using a faith-based approach to recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and living sober. Faith-based recovery programs provide a supportive environment that nourishes spiritual living.
Higher Power is a term used in Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs. The same groups use the phrase a power greater than ourselves. The term sometimes refers to a supreme being or deity or other conceptions of God.
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international mutual aid fellowship with the stated purpose of enabling its members to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. The only membership requirement is a desire to stop drinking.
Peer Support Groups peer support is a process through which a person or group with a specific experience or health condition provides emotional, social, and informational support to individuals with similar experiences or conditions.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Marcel Gemme, DATS - Author

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.


Michael Leach, CCMA - Medically Reviewed on September 17, 2021

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Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.