Faith-Based Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs

Faith-based drug and alcohol treatment is addiction treatment with a spiritual and sometimes religiously specific foundation. Faith-based counseling and treatment services are available in a range of settings including outpatient and inpatient or residential settings. The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) states that faith-based recovery is an opportunity for places of worship and fellowship to support and strengthen families in their communities by offering recovery programs to help individuals beat their addictions. While some faith-based treatment and recovery services do take place on properties run by religious organizations, many do not.

Mainstream addiction treatment programs have traditionally been 12 Step based or offered 12 Step programs as a supplement to counseling and relapse prevention techniques. While 12 Step programs like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) are known as spiritual programs, they differ in many respects from programs that use the tenets of a specific religion. For example, 12 Step programs do use the word God in their literature but leave members free to have a relationship with God as each member may understand Him. Theoretically, people of various faiths can find a way to accommodate the spiritual components of the 12 Steps into their already formed beliefs and spiritual or religious practices. And, they can do that in the same group.

It is thought that almost 80% of Americans identify themselves as religious, and this fact alone indicates a great many people who can be receptive to a faith-based approach to treatment and recovery. Of course, not all religious people need or want a faith-based treatment program. Just as they don’t want or need religious aspects incorporated into all healthcare services they may receive. However, it is certainly an approach that taps into majority values and beliefs in our society.

Spirituality vs. Religion in Rehab

The differences between spirituality and religion are often discussed. One does not exclude the other, and in fact, they are often intimately entwined. One way of distinguishing between the two is that spirituality can occur without participation in an organized community of believers in specific doctrines. Religion, on the other hand, involves a group of organized practitioners that share in public practices together, and share a specific set of doctrines.

Even though 12 Step programs use Christian terminologies such as God and prayer, members do not have to participate in particular religious practices or espouse particular doctrine to participate in the programs. In fact, the term Higher Power is an oft-used term that circumvents a narrower use of the word God, and greatly widens the range of possible spiritual perspectives. On the other hand, for example, in a Christian rehab, Christianity is a unifying and shared religious belief with terminology specific to that belief system. However, the underlying principle is the same–that is, that a power greater than one’s self can help one overcome addiction.

The Word ‘Faith’

The word faith is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as loyalty, fidelity, belief, and trust in and loyalty to God, belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion, firm belief in something for which there is no proof, complete trust, and something that is believed especially with strong conviction. In faith-based treatment and recovery, these definitional concepts apply. Spiritual and religious principles depend upon belief and trust in principles and dynamics that cannot always be proven, but rather are experienced personally. Also, spiritual and religious practices can mobilize strong conviction, and become the foundation of life values.

The goals of a faith-based treatment include focusing on a relationship with a Higher Power or God and using those to facilitate healing. Faith-based treatment that is founded on a specific religion does the same, using specific doctrine and practices. For example, in a Christian-based rehab, treatment goals would include deepening an understanding of Christ’s teachings and strengthening a personal relationship with Christ. In a faith-based philosophy of treatment, no matter what spiritual or religious beliefs a person has, a treatment program that incorporates those can help one overcome an addiction. Spiritual and/or religious beliefs and practices become treatment and recovery tools in such settings.

People of Faith Who are Addicted

Addicted people who have faith-based beliefs can struggle with problems specifically related to their faith. Guilt and shame are typical reactions among all people with addictions. Feelings about themselves include feeling they have failed in their goals, ambitions, responsibilities, and relationships. When faith is involved as a strong life value, people can feel that they have failed God as well. It is also common for people of faith to feel they have disappointed, offended or abandoned God by becoming addicted.

Faith-based philosophies of treatment are not all alike. Just like all rehabs of any orientation, one rehab is not necessarily like another. If you consider going to a rehab, you should make specific inquiries whenever you contact one. Each can have their own unique faith perspective, treatment methods, techniques, policies, and even different fees and financial arrangements. However, each faith-based treatment program is apt to share the following in general terms: that addiction is the result of a spiritual emptiness, and that reliance on a Higher Power is the key to overcoming addiction.

Faith, Addiction, and Stigma

In general, there is a great deal of stigma regarding addiction in our society, and many people do not disclose their use of substances in order to avoid negative stereotyping, feelings of shame, and the possibility of rejection and alienation. In fact, many do not seek even confidential services due to widespread stigma of addiction.

For people of faith who are addicted, there can be another layer of stigma in their faith communities. Seeking treatment in a faith-based treatment setting can be a significantly healing experience for individuals to overcome multiple aspects of addiction-related stigma. Research has shown that spiritual practices can help accelerate emotional healing and improve health in many respects. Removing barriers for people who need treatment is important. Faith-based treatment clears the way for many who need help to overcome addiction while simultaneously dealing with related spiritual crises.

What to Expect in a Faith-Based Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program

Effective faith-based alcohol and drug treatment programs provide psychological, medical and spiritual services. However, many aspects of a faith-based program can appear similar to services provided in non-faith-based rehabs. Some of the things you can expect in any reputable rehab are:

  • Medically supervised withdrawal and detoxification services
  • Medication for management of withdrawal symptoms
  • A safe, therapeutic and drug-free environment
  • Supportive counseling
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Education about addiction and recovery
  • Coping skills such as stress or emotion management
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • Respectful interaction toward program participants
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Planning and recommendations for aftercare and continued recovery efforts

Is a Faith-Based Rehab for You?

Faith-based treatment is not for everyone. It is a very personal choice, and everyone should find a program with a treatment philosophy that not only makes sense in one’s value system but also inspires hope for recovery. If faith is an important factor in your life, or the life of a loved one, a faith-based drug, and alcohol treatment program may be appropriate. However, there are other considerations that are significant when choosing any rehab to enter, faith-based or not. Some of these are:

  • Does the program effectively address your particular addiction?
  • Are program staff members trained specifically in the treatment of your specific addiction?
  • Can the program provide a medically supervised detox protocol?
  • If you have mental health issues, can the program provide psychiatric services and mental health counseling?
  • If you have special needs physically, can the program accommodate them?
  • Will the program involve significant others that you want to participate in your treatment?
  • What is the particular faith basis of the program?
  • Does the program’s faith basis align with your own?
  • How are faith principles incorporated into the program?
  • What opportunities for religious practice are available?
  • Are you required to participate in religious practices?
  • Will your spiritual advisors from the community be allowed to visit?
  • Can you forego the spiritual/religious aspects of the program if you wish to?

If You or a Loved One Need Help

If you or a loved one need help to overcome an addiction, we can help you find appropriate options. If you are considering a faith-based program, but need more information, we can also provide that. At Elite Rehab Placement, we have researched all types of rehab programs and gathered a large database of information. We also have worked hard to establish relationships across a wide array of programs so we can keep abreast of their services.

If you call to inquire about a faith-based rehab but find you’d also like to explore other options, we can help you with that as well. We will consult with you free of charge to understand your clinical needs and your preferences. We can also can your clarify insurance coverage for you.

If you or your loved one have problematic substance use, it is important to reach out for help. No matter how hopeless you feel, you are not. Recovery happens, and countless people have felt the despair you feel, but gone on to establish a happy and successful substance-free life. You can find the right place to heal, with the support you need to heal body, mind, spirit, and soul.

Standing at the threshold of getting help is an overwhelming and very personal time of crisis. It can be difficult to know what to do and how to do it. You don’t have to struggle alone. Reach out to us today and let us navigate your search for the right place to get the right help.