FAITH AND RECOVERY
- June 23, 2018
When a substance abuse problem seems to have taken over a person’s life, some look to faith for the answer.
Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the most well-known support groups, has religion at the heart of its philosophy. One of its founders, Bill W., believed that addiction was not only a mental and physical sickness, but a spiritual one. The 12-step program places a higher power at the center of its tenets, such as “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God,” and “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
Cocaine Anonymous is another faith-based support program, though it stresses that it is not aligned with any denomination or political view, leaving members to define spirituality as they see fit. Their 12 steps include the message that “Coming to believe in a Higher Power’s ability to restore us to sanity does not require that we believe in God. All we need is an open mind and a willingness to believe that there is a Power greater than ourselves.”
Most treatments integrate faith with traditional psychology to varying degrees. Some groups, however, go so far as to reject doctors and medicine completely, relying on the power of prayer and the will of God. A study carried out in Brazil found that among three major religious groups, the treatments all shared common factors including prayer and reflection about life after death. All three religions believed in the power of prayer, as direct contact with God, to overcome addiction. The conclusion did point out, however, that perhaps religion as a social group played more of a role in recovery, by providing a support group and productive ways of spending free time.
Even for those who do not believe in an all-seeing God, faith can provide hope. Because some addicts have burned bridges with friends and family as a result of their substance abuse, church can provide a new family. Having this support network is important at all stages of recovery.
On the other side of the coin, some groups and programs either reject faith altogether or refuse to limit themselves to any one religion. Secular A.A. is an organization that neither rejects nor accepts any religion or lack thereof. Their preamble outlines a desire to allow alcoholics to achieve sobriety without being forced to believe another faith or deny their one. The Secular Organization for Sobriety also believes that addiction thrives in isolation, but offers a secular path to recovery. It looks to science for answers and avoids outside entanglements in order to focus solely on abstinence. Similarly, SMART Recovery focuses on cognitive and behavioral therapy to empower an individual to quit. Its key ideas include developing a healthy, positive lifestyle and becoming aware of your motivations to drink or use drugs.
Whether you look to faith or more secular means of treatment, consider us at Asana Recovery to help you meet your goals. Our programs are deeply rooted in our values and beliefs, and we seek to provide a non-judgmental space to heal. Or, if you look to nature for your spirituality, we provide outdoor activities and exercise, along with Fresh Air Mindfulness sessions. Call us today at (949) 438-4504 to learn more about our comprehensive program.