Addressing addiction in Islam is a delicate process because drugs and alcohol are strictly condemned in the culture. There are three verses in the Qur’an that discuss substance use, and that intoxication is sacrilegious.
O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants (khamr), gambling, [sacrificing on] stone altars [to other than God], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. — Qur’an 5:90
Intoxicants are referred to as “khamr,” which is a word in Arabic for wine. However, Islamic faith extends that word to include other drugs or alcohol that defile the intellect or mind, diminish the ability to think or feel rationally, or lower inhibition.
In Islam, no drugs of any kind will be tolerated, not even the types you’ll find in foods such as cooking sauces with wine or chocolates that contain alcohol. The religion is even more strict when it comes to cocaine, alcohol, heroin, or marijuana.
Unfortunately, despite their strict beliefs, no faith or portion of humanity has been spared the devastation of drug and alcohol abuse. Individuals of all ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds have fallen into the throes of substance use and addiction throughout our existence.
Those practicing Islam in Muslim-majority countries and the United States have not been spared this cruel fate. Many have been left to deal with their affliction in silence because abuse and addiction are taboo in religious communities. Admitting to addiction may cause shame by their peers and elders, and many never get the help they need to battle this disease.
If you’re concerned about a loved one dealing with addiction in Muslim-majority countries and communities, continue reading to learn about the available treatment options that consider your faith. You should never let the stigma of addiction prevent you from saving your life.
Drug Abuse in the Muslim Community
The information pertaining to alcohol and substance abuse in Muslim communities across the United States and abroad is scarce. However, there is anecdotal evidence depicting the rise of opium and alcohol abuse in Muslim communities worldwide.
There is some evidence that shows a correlation between assimilation and substance abuse.
The information points to Muslims who are immersed in Western culture are more likely to engage in substance abuse. Alcohol abuse is the most prevalent drug of abuse. The same study also shows that in the Islamic countries of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, there is a high prevalence of opiate use. Many of those who abuse the drug use needles, leading to an increase in HIV infection.
Marijuana is also commonly used and produced in Muslim countries, including amphetamine-based stimulants and psychoactive substances. Other reports show that khat, a plant-based stimulant, is widely abused throughout Muslim countries. Authorities report seizing the plant in 51 countries where Muslims are the majority.
Despite its taboo, there is a severe issue with opium abuse in the Middle East, and Muslim-majority countries like Afghanistan have been hit hard. According to the New York Times, the country that is nestled between Pakistan and Iraq is one of the most addicted societies on the globe.
Eight percent of Afghanistan’s population suffers from drug addiction, translating to one million people, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). That is near twice the rate of the global average.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is defined by the National Institute on Drugs and Alcohol (NIDA) as “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.” Addiction changes how the human brain functions and these effects last long after someone stops using drugs or alcohol.
Once someone develops an addiction to drugs or alcohol, they will start exhibiting specific signs that substance use has taken precedence over everything in their lives, including work, relationships, and their own bodies. A person with an addiction will start manifesting behavioral changes that include:
- Struggling to meet deadlines at school or work.
- Sleeping patterns and eating patterns change.
- Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance.
- Consistent fatigue, no energy, weight loss or gain, and problems with motivation.
- The person socializes less or has new friends they spend their time with.
- The person experiences financial issues because of instability, job loss, or spending their money on drugs or alcohol.
Professional Treatment Options
If you believe that you or a loved one has developed a substance abuse disorder or addiction, you must seek professional treatment. In a professional recovery program, experienced staff will help you design a customized treatment plan that meets your specific needs. If you are addicted to heroin, cocaine, alcohol, or prescription opioids, you must start your journey with medically supervised detox.
During the stay in detox, all toxins and traces of the addictive substances are removed from the body. The specialists may administer medications that treat uncomfortable or even sometimes painful withdrawal symptoms that may arise during detox. Once you complete detox, the next step is to receive ongoing care in a treatment facility. If your addiction is severe, the most promising option will be residential treatment. You will live onsite to receive comprehensive care and services that understand your personalized needs in this stage.
Some of the treatment methods and approaches include:
- Medical detox
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- Family therapy
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Educational lasses
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Motivational interviewing
- Stress management
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Relapse prevention planning
Consideration for Those of the Muslim Faith
For individuals practicing the Muslim faith, there is unique consideration when they enroll in addiction treatment. Integrating Islamic faith into addiction treatment is best embodied by Millati Islami, a 12-step program for those practicing Islam.
The mission is unlike the 12-Step programs in Western Societies as we look to Allah to guide us on the path to peace. During recovery, we are guided by Muslims and submit our will to Allah. The 12-steps of Millati Islami include:
- We admitted that we were neglectful of our higher selves and that our lives have become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that Allah could and would restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to submit our will to the will of Allah.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to Allah and to ourselves the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Asking Allah for right guidance, we became willing and open for change, ready to have Allah remove our defects of character.
- We humbly ask Allah to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of persons we have harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- We sought through Salaat (prayer service in Islam) and Iqraa (reading and studying) to improve our understanding of Taqwa (G-d consciousness) and Ihsan (excellence in faith).
- Having increased our level of Iman (faith) and Taqwa, as a result of applying these steps, we carried this message to humanity and began practicing these principles in all our affairs.