The Role of Faith in Addiction Recovery

The role of faith in addiction recovery is widely discussed in 12 Step programs such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous. In fact, the word faith is mentioned a total of 82 times in the popular texts of AA–Alcoholics Anonymous (aka “The Big Book”) and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (“The 12 & 12”). It is now commonly accepted that spiritual practices and faith can greatly accelerate any healing process. Treatment programs are available that stress faith-based principles throughout their programs for people who feel comfortable with such an approach. Also, 12 Step self-help programs are spiritual programs that incorporate principles that people of all beliefs can benefit from.

The Leap of Faith in Recovery

The concept of faith covers a lot of territory and is not always a spiritual or religious notion. For example, faith is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:

  • allegiance to duty or a person
  • fidelity to one’s promises
  • sincerity of intentions
  • 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
  • something that is believed especially with strong conviction

Reviewing the list above, it becomes apparent that faith’s role in addiction recovery can be broad and pervasive. For example, recovering people often cite the ‘leap of faith’ that was required when they first sought help for their addictions. In the midst of suffering, for instance, they gave treatment and other recovery efforts a chance–perhaps not seeing, believing or understanding how those things might help them at the time.

If Faith-Based Treatment is Important to You

If faith-based treatment is important to you, there are many options available, but it is important to know that not every faith-based program is the same. Obviously, there are many spiritual and religious beliefs and related organizations so you will need to inquire of each program you explore exactly what is offered.

Also, it is generally accepted throughout healthcare that spiritual and religious issues are important. It is reasonable to expect that treatment facilities will work with you as best they can to make accommodations for any special observances or practices. However, you should discuss specifically any particular needs you may have while participating in a program prior to choosing a facility. You may, for example, want to have access to particular religious clergy or services during your stay. These types of things should be clarified during your initial contacts with any program you are considering.