Christianity and Addiction [A Guide to Understanding]
Addiction can affect people across all demographics and belief systems. Although some people may view addiction as a sin or moral failing, struggling with substance abuse does not make you any less of a Christian.
However, it could speak to the need to turn from this sin and surrender it to God so that you can be changed from the inside.
Furthermore, receiving clinical addiction treatment does not mean you have to abandon your faith. Although spiritual and clinical methods of addiction treatment have not always been compatible in the past, plenty of current Christian rehab programs have found ways to implement both into their treatment. Physical and spiritual healing both have a place in recovery.
Finding the right treatment and starting recovery can be a complex and daunting process, but you don’t have to do it alone.
If you’re looking for rehab today, please call us at (385) 327-7418
Clinical treatment programs have recently found ways to integrate secular and spiritual methods of recovery. Click below to read further about faith-based approaches to recovery and how to move forward with sobriety.
- Data and Statistics on Christianity and Addiction
- What Does Christian Rehab Look Like?
- Physical vs. Spiritual Healing
- Finding Strength in Community
- History of Christian Recovery Programs
- Treatment is for Everyone
Data and Stats on Christianity and Addiction
Some interesting stats on Christianity and Addiction:
- 73% of addiction treatment programs in the USA include spirituality-based concepts, including submitting to God for healing from addiction.
- There are 130,000 religious and spiritual-based programs that provide addiction treatment support and services which save the U.S. economy about 316.6 billion a year.
- 84% of scientific studies show that faith is a positive factor in addiction prevention or recovery and risk in less than 2% of the studies. The conclusion is that faith-based concepts and beliefs when used as an approach to substance abuse prevention are indisputably effective.
What Does Christian Rehab Look Like?
Christianity has historically viewed addiction as a sinful choice rather than the disease it is widely recognized as now. This has sometimes made it difficult to integrate secular and spiritual treatments.
Today, however, many Christians recognize the need for both physical and spiritual healing in the addiction recovery process. A faith-based approach to addiction treatment does not force you to choose between clinical and spiritual methods. They both address different components of addiction and support the success of the other.
Christian rehab typically offers the same services as non-denominational addiction treatment programs (such as detox, inpatient and outpatient care, and therapy) while maintaining a strong focus strengthening one’s connection with God.
Spiritual treatment may include bible study, daily prayer and reflection, regular attendance of church services, and counseling from a church leader.
Christian recovery programs often implement 12-step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous due to the inherent spirituality of these programs.
The Spiritual Roots of AA
Alcoholics Anonymous, although adopted by secular communities, has some roots in Christianity. AA, along with other 12-step programs, is not officially aligned with any specific religious group, organization, or church, but it offers a spiritual approach to recovery.
The religious writings of 20th-century psychologist and medical doctor William James highly influenced AA’s idea of addiction recovery. His book The Variety of Religious Experiences explored the role of religion in addiction treatment and suggested that religious conversion provides addicts with a new outlook on life which redirects them away from cravings for alcohol.
Although AA recognizes the biological, psychological, and social influences on addiction, Christian concepts are inherent in its twelve steps. They emphasize the idea that alcoholics cannot overcome addiction without the help of a higher power.
Twelve-step programs also somewhat model the confessional aspect of Christianity. For example, the twelve steps ask recovering addicts to admit to their addiction-related wrongdoings and make amends for them.
Many Christians find comfort in 12-step programs because it allows them to make spiritual progress and connects them with a like-minded community of recovering addicts.
However, it should be noted that many other individuals you find in AA and other 12 step programs will likely not share the same faith as you. There is controversy in some Christian communities stemming from the fact that while it seems the roots of AA are Christian, it actually gives people a path other than Jesus that can heal addiction.
True Christian beliefs are rooted in Jesus’s own words that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him.
Physical vs. Spiritual Healing
There is some debate about whether or not addiction is a sin and what this means for treatment. Some view addiction as spiritual in nature because it is the process of substituting dependency on God for dependency on something else, such as drugs. They believe the lack of self-control and weakened willpower associated with addiction are moral failings that can only be avoided with divine help.
But modern definitions of addiction emphasize the idea that it is a disease characterized by loss of control which must be regained through medical and psychological intervention.
Many Christians believe it is important to acknowledge both interpretations. That is to say, addiction may not be a choice, but the addict is not completely without sin.
Most people recognize that addiction impairs judgment, so addicts’ responsibility for their own addictions and resultant behaviors is complex. But at the same time, addiction can lead to dishonest behavior, which is fundamentally immoral.
When people view addiction either as wholly sinful or wholly blameless, it can hinder recovery because it may ignore some important factors.
Many Christians agree that the solution is not to favor one type of healing over the other, but rather find ways to join the two in order to heal both the body and the spirit.
Viewing Addiction from All Angles
Additionally, some believe that when we view addiction simply as a bad choice, it can create an environment of shame around treatment, which can impede recovery.
Under this view, people who seek clinical treatment may appear to be abandoning their faith in the healing power of God. However, many Christians believe it is possible to seek treatment while still honoring their faith.
Many find it helpful to acknowledge that there are multiple components of addiction.
There are certainly biological and social aspects, but there are moral and spiritual components to addiction as well. The biological and social aspects of addiction can help us understand how addiction works on a physical and mental level.
But a moral framework can help guide addicts toward treatment because it shows how addiction harms them and those they love. Additionally, spirituality can give some people the power to continue toward healthy lives.
Finding Strength in Community
Christian approaches to addiction treatment often emphasize the importance of receiving support from the church community.
Ideally, church members should be able to look to their church leaders and fellow congregants for support. Church leaders should be willing to walk the members of their congregation through the long and difficult process of rehab.
Some believe it is also the responsibility of church leaders to share their own vulnerability so they can remind struggling congregants that no one is infallible and that keeping faith is what helps some people get through difficult times.
Many also find strength from prayer, which they feel deepens their relationship with God. This relationship may have been lost or weakened by addiction.
However, the shame that often surrounds addiction can make people feel alienated from their religious communities.
It is important to remember that addiction can often stem from pain, and pain can lead some people to abandon their faith in favor of a seemingly easier way to ease their suffering, like drugs or alcohol. It is human to feel pain and to make mistakes because of it.
The Power of Reaching Out
Scripture teaches that healing comes from connection with one’s community. All church members should feel free to confess their sins to one another and pray for each other.
Despite this, it can be difficult to reach out for help. Sometimes people struggling with addiction need others to reach out to them. If you know a fellow church member is struggling with addiction, it can be immensely reassuring for them to know that you are there for them.
Church leaders often teach that you should love those struggling with addiction without reservation and listen to them without judgement.
You should not pile onto the shame they likely already feel. Instead, it is advised that you pray for them and help them find long-term care if they need it. Remind them that the Christian community is there for them.
History of Christian Recovery Programs
Christian rehab is not exactly a recent idea. Historically, the Christian view of addiction treatment is rooted in the idea of recovery through salvation.
Several Christian organizations were created for the purpose of treating addiction through faith. There is a long history of using religion as a means of recovery.
One such organization is Salvation Army. Its founder, William Booth, began the organization in the late 1800s to give those afflicted by addiction food and shelter.
Salvation Army sought to provide addicts with a wholesome environment, where their addictions could be treated through Christian salvation and moral education. Salvation Army now has over 150 centers in the U.S. and still works to serve those with addictions.
Teen Challenge, another explicitly Christian approach to addiction treatment, was started by a Pentecostal preacher who had experience working with gang youth.
Despite its name, Teen Challenge currently serves people of all ages. The program emphasizes the importance of accepting Christ as one’s personal savior and overcoming sin.
Some people have criticized such Christian approaches to treatment for their moralistic view of addiction. As addiction has become more widely recognized as a disease rather than a moral shortcoming, many people believe that it is not enough to simply be “saved.”
Although Christian approaches still focus on religious conversion as a solution to addiction, they have begun to integrate clinical models into their treatment programs. For example, Salvation Army primarily uses AA.
Treatment is for Everyone
It is important to remember that having an addiction does not make you any less of a Christian.
It can be hard to let go of any shame you feel surrounding substance abuse and seek treatment. But treatment is meant to accommodate your individual needs.
So, if your faith is what gives you the strength to begin recovery, then your program can work with you to implement it.
Many modern recovery programs have successfully integrated spiritual components into clinical treatments.
When we look at addiction from multiple angles, we can see that there is room for spirituality in traditional treatment. In fact, it is often what encourages many people to continue.
Many Christian rehabs combine clinical treatment methods, like detox and counseling, with bible study, prayer sessions, and 12-step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Groups like this help you find support in your religious community. Many people find strength in their communities when recovery gets difficult.
The people in these programs can remind you that you are not alone in your struggles. Twelve-step programs also help you find the balance between taking responsibility for your addiction and letting a higher power guide you toward long-term recovery.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and searching for Christian recovery programs, know that help is within your reach.
We can ease the recovery process for you and help you find the treatment that aligns with your faith. Call 918-779-0011 for more information on Christian rehab. With our assistance, you can begin your journey to an addiction-free life today.