Addiction is a complicated disease that requires a complex approach to treatment. Addiction treatment involves solutions for psychical, psychological, and social needs. However, even though addiction is a disease that should be treated with medical and clinical approaches, like any other disease, many people also need spiritual healing.
Addiction can take over nearly every aspect of your life, including your relationships, health, finances, and overall well-being. You may feel isolated and incapable of bridging the gap between you and your loved ones that has been caused by addiction. In addition to evidence-based treatment approaches, many people also need spiritual healing through faith-based treatment. Through the treatment process, there are many ways for you to address your spiritual needs through faith-focused treatment options, local ministries, and tailored treatment plans.
Learn more about how you can incorporate your faith in addiction treatment.
The Faith-Based Origins of Modern Addiction Treatment
The way addiction has been treated changed dramatically over the 20th century. What was once treated as a simple moral failing or a bad habit was slowly being recognized as a deeper problem. Psychologists like Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud both worked with addicted people and saw addiction as a very real and complex issue. In fact, Jung was treating a patient named Roland Hazzard that suffered from a chronic relapse of alcoholism. Jung saw that medicine and psychology at the time had nothing that could help him.
When Hazzard asked if his case was hopeless, Jung said, “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.” This story was reported in The Big Book, the guiding literature for people going through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It turns out that Hazard would later join a group of Christians that was dedicated to personal betterment and community accountability called the Oxford Group. Bill Wilson was also a member of that group and would later branch off to be a co-founder of AA.
Though today, there are plenty of people that achieve sobriety without much focus on spirituality, AA pioneered an emphasis on spiritual healing and community connection that is vital for many people struggling with substance use problems today.
Faith-Based Treatment Options
Faith-based treatment may be an important element in your treatment plan. Focusing on spiritual needs in recovery can help increase your engagement with treatment, improve your morale, and give you a sense of spiritual healing. It’s important to note that addiction is a disease, so there are many elements of it that need to be treated with medical and clinical approaches. In the same way, you would seek treatment for a cancer diagnosis; you should seek to address biological and psychological needs in addiction. Still, addressing your spiritual needs may be vital for some people during and after treatment.
There are several ways to seek faith-based treatment options during and after formal addiction treatment. Here are some of the most common:
Faith-Based Treatment Tracks
One of the most convenient ways to get faith-based treatment for addiction issues is to attend a treatment center with faith-based tracks. This means that your treatment center would offer faith-based treatment options as a part of your treatment plan. This could involve regular meetings with a pastor or minister that has experience with addiction treatment. It may also involve a certified counselor that shares your faith that can help you address spiritual needs.
Faith-based treatment tracks usually involve Christain tracks or chaplains that offer less specific spiritual guidance. When you’re looking for an addiction treatment program, it’s important to make sure they offer evidence-based therapy that forms the foundation of your treatment plan. Still, faith-based tracks that are integrated into treatment plans can mean getting faith-based treatment, even in an inpatient setting. It may also offer added synergy with the other aspect of your treatment plan, providing a holistic treatment approach that addresses biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs.
Many churches and synagogues have local ministries designed to help people that are struggling with addiction. If not, they may have general community outreach programs that can help with both spiritual and practical needs, like connecting you to employment and housing opportunities. If there are no faith-based community programs in your area, you may be able to meet with a pastor or minister for counseling sessions. Many ministers from Christan, Muslim, and Jewish traditions offer spiritual counseling as a part of their regular duties. If you attend a church or worship center regularly or if you’re looking for a place of worship, ask a minister or a leader about scheduling counseling sessions.
Bear in mind that the average pastor may not be an expert or extensively experienced with addiction treatment. They may not be able to offer counseling that serves as a replacement for therapy with a certified addiction counselor. However, they can offer spiritual guidance, practical life advice, and recommendations like Bible reading plans.
A 12-step program is one of the oldest forms of addiction help that involves spiritual healing. Alcoholics Anonymous provides a theistic approach to dealing with alcoholism that emphasizes trust in a higher power and connecting to a community of other people with similar goals. However, AA and the similar Narcotics Anonymous offers a non-specific focus on a Higher Power. However, there are other 12-step programs that offer a more specific approach. For instance, the Christian 12-step program Celebrate Recovery offers the same 12 steps with a specific focus on your relationship with God.
The Jewish organization Chabad has also encouraged people to pursue recovery, including the use of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Why Seek Addiction Treatment?
Addiction is a progressive disorder that can get worse over time if it’s ignored. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, it can start to take over your life if it isn’t treated. Severe substance use disorders are often identified by compulsive drug use despite consequences. In many cases, people with substance use disorders don’t recognize that they have a problem right away. Addiction creates powerful compulsions to use that may be difficult to resist and may feel like second nature during active addiction.
Some signs of addiction include trying and failing to cut back, using just to feel normal, needing more of the drug to achieve the same effects that you’re used to, neglecting normal responsibility, and losing interest in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed. Addiction can also grow out of mild and moderate substance use disorders with more subtle signs like frequent binge drinking or drug use, misusing prescriptions, and a growing tolerance to your drug of choice.
Active addiction can increase your risk of developing long-term medical and psychological health issues. It can also lead to other issues like financial ruin, homelessness, the contraction of blood-borne diseases, and strained relationships with loved ones. Addiction treatment can help to avoid or address these issues through personalized treatment plans. With faith-based treatment options or community resources, your treatment plan can help you address your physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs.