Faith in Recovery

Today, spiritual healing may be an undervalued aspect of medical and mental health treatment. However, modern addiction treatment has its roots in an organization that considered spiritual healing to be essential. In the 1920s, addiction was just starting to be treated as a disease, though many people were still treated like it was simply a moral failing. 

The famous psychologist Carl Jung was treating a man named Roland Hazard, who was struggling with chronic relapse into alcoholism. Jung told him that his case might be hopeless, but he added, “Exceptions to cases such as yours have been occurring since early times. Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences.”

Though Jung acknowledged that spiritual healing was a significant force for some people who struggled with alcoholism, he also acknowledged that it was difficult to grasp. 

Hazard was connected to other significant names in early modern addiction treatment. He had a mutual friend with Bill Wilson, who would later become a cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, which emphasized spiritual healing in recovery. 

Today, faith is an instrumental aspect of addiction recovery for many people. In the Bible, the apostle Paul writes a letter to the church in Rome and says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” 

He’s talking about his desire to do good in his life, which clashes with his human nature and the fact that he continues to make mistakes. It’s easy to see why that might resonate with someone struggling with substance use issues.

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Faith and spirituality can be a powerful force in addressing addiction. It may help you through some of the challenges in treatment, and it may also help connect you to a community that shares in your goals of sobriety and spiritual growth. 

Learn more about your faith-based options in addiction treatment.

Faith-Based Treatment Options

If you would like to incorporate your faith into an addiction treatment program, or if you’d like to learn how faith can address issues like addiction, there are several options for you. Sometimes seeking addiction treatment means putting aspects of your life on hold. You may need to take a break in your career. 

If you enroll in an inpatient program, you may have to leave home. However, your relationship with God doesn’t have to be one of the things you put on hold to seek treatment. In fact, it could be instrumental in getting you through the painful and challenging parts of recovery.

There are several ways you can pursue your relationship with God through the practice of your faith while going through an evidence-based treatment program. 

Faith-Based Treatment Tracks

If you need formal addiction treatment that takes you through the continuum of care at an addiction treatment center, there might be a faith-based track available at a treatment center of your choice. Addiction treatment is complex and requires a high level of personalization. 

When you first enter addiction treatment, you’ll go through an intake process when you meet with medical and clinical professionals. Through this process, you’ll form a treatment plan with help from addiction care professionals. The focus will be on evidence-based medical and clinical therapies, which should form the groundwork of your treatment plan. 

However, everyone is different and brings different needs to treatment. Treatment centers often offer supplemental treatment options. In these cases, faith-based tracks in treatment can take your recovery plan and put it into a spiritual context. In faith-based treatment, you may go through sessions with a chaplain, pastor, or another spiritual leader. Christian tracks are the most common options, but you might be able to find Islamic or Jewish tracks as well. 

Local Ministries

Even if you are in a treatment program that doesn’t offer a specific faith-based track as a part of formal treatment, you might be able to take advantage of local ministry options. Faith-based organizations in the community may offer programs to help people who are in recovery. These programs may be spiritual in nature, helping you grow your relationship with God and other believers. You can also connect to a community of people that help you work toward treatment goals and goals in growing your faith. 

Local churches and synagogues may also have programs that help connect people to treatment services they need. Unfortunately, with such a diverse array of local ministries in the United States, it’s tough to say where you might find solid help in your community. Your treatment program may be able to connect you with the community resources you’re looking for. 

Local ministries and community resources are also a great way to continue to pursue your recovery after you complete treatment. Addiction treatment is a lifelong process, and it shouldn’t end when you complete formal addiction treatment. Getting involved in your community, especially with people who are also committed to addiction recovery, can help safeguard your sobriety for the long term. 

12-Step Programs

Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous use the 12-step process to encourage a community mindset through recovery. They have shown it to be effective in helping people build support systems after addiction treatment, and they can facilitate a lifelong pursuit of recovery. 

One of the core philosophies of 12-step programs is the belief in a higher power. In AA’s “Big Book,” which is the guiding literature for people in the program, it says, “You may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.” 

AA and similar programs acknowledge a vague higher power, but there are also 12-step programs that follow more specific faiths. For instance, Celebrate Recovery is a 12-step program that specifically acknowledges God as the higher power that participants can turn to for help. The 12 steps are similar to AA’s, but the program offers a Christ-centered approach to spiritual healing.

Do I Need Addiction Treatment?

Addiction is a chronic disease that can get worse if left untreated. For that reason, it’s important to recognize substance use problems as early as possible. Addiction is characterized by the compulsive use of a drug despite serious consequences. Consequences could involve health problems, relationship issues, problems at work, financial trouble, or legal issues that are drug use causes. When you become addicted to a substance, it’s hard to control, even when you know it’s negatively impacting your life. 

Addiction may start with less severe substance use problems like substance misuse and chemical dependence. Misuse or abuse involves taking illegal drugs, binging, or frequently using a substance recreationally. Misusing illicit or prescription drugs increase your chances of developing a more severe substance use disorder. 

Some signs and symptoms of substance use problems are:

  • Using more than you expected
  • Hiding or lying about drug use
  • Strange sleep schedule
  • Struggling at work or school
  • Using substances by yourself
  • Needing to use to feel normal
  • Using in the morning or odd times
  • Changes in friend groups
  • Using despite consequences
  • Financial issues

Addressing substance use disorders as soon as possible can help you avoid more severe consequences. Addiction can take over several aspects of your life, including your long-term health. It can also lead to broken relationships and financial ruin. However, if your addiction problem has progressed to a severe degree, you can still achieve long-lasting recovery with the right treatment for your needs. 

Sources

American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous. (n.d.). Chapter 2 – There is a Solution – (pp. 17-29). Retrieved from https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_chapt2.pdf

Celebrate Recovery. (2018, April 5). Celebrate Recovery Home Page. Retrieved from https://www.celebraterecovery.com/

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, July). Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Evidence-Based Approaches to Drug Addiction Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment

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