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Religious Alcohol And Drug Rehab Centers

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

Medically reviewed by

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

February 4, 2019

At a religious drug and alcohol rehab center, clients are given an opportunity to experience a treatment that incorporates their religious beliefs into the recovery process. Many people struggling with addiction find the spiritual component of treatment to be the most beneficial. Finding the right rehab center that aligns with an individual’s specific beliefs may be paramount to long-term recovery.

What Are Religious Rehab Centers?

At a religious rehab, alcohol and drug addiction is believed to be part of a spiritual sickness, and treatment will teach patients to incorporate religious practices into everyday life. Some religions believe that people use drugs to fill a void where God and spirituality are missing. In a religious rehab, clients are placed into a safe environment to explore their faith and learn to build upon their spiritual foundation.

Many clients find that without the distraction of secularism, in a religious rehab they’re able to replace feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and low self-worth with feelings of hope, faith, and strength. Drug and alcohol treatment programs can help a person overcome addictions to:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines
  • MDMA
  • Hallucinogens

A lot of religious rehab centers use some of the same behavioral techniques as non-religious rehabs, but in doing so, they also teach that religion is an important part of the healing process, whereas non-religious or secular rehabs do not. Both forms of treatment are better than nothing at all.

Many rehabs offer ongoing care with an aftercare support program. In this respect, patients are left feeling cared about long after their treatment is over. Religious rehab aftercare can connect clients with local churches, temples, synagogues, and other community support. Aftercare can also connect patients with other people in recovery.

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What Areas Of Life Can A Religious Rehab Center Help With?

There are a lot of reasons that people decide to stop using drugs or alcohol. Some may want to escape their past, avoid legal repercussions, or avoid dangerous consequences. “Two of the reasons frequently cited by alcohol and other drug users for seeking recovery are negative consequences of drug use (past consequences and fear of future consequences) and wanting a better life,” (National Library of Medicine NLM).

Not only will a person learn what addiction is, in a religious rehab center, but they’ll also be able to focus on the areas of their life that were been damaged by drug use as well. Thereby finding a solution for a better life.

The areas of life touched on by religious rehab may include:

  • Individual (self)—behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, fears, and spirituality
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Community
  • Religion
  • Spirituality

Many people who practice a spiritual approach to recovery find that their purpose or meaning of life is found, and they’re able to maintain healthy relationships in most respects. “Although little is known about the specific aspects or ‘active ingredients’ of religiosity and spirituality that may influence recovery from addiction, several studies suggest that the coping skills derived through religion and spirituality may be an underutilized treatment resource” (NLM).

What Is The Difference Between Religion And Spirituality?

One area that must be addressed is the difference between religion and spirituality. They’re two separate ideas, and even though religion often fuels the idea of spirituality, they must not be confused for one or the other. From a publication found in the U.S. National Library of Medicine religion and spirituality are defined as follows:

Religiousness has specific behavioral, social, doctrinal, and denominational characteristics because it involves a system of worship and doctrine that is shared within a group. Spirituality is concerned with the transcendent, addressing ultimate questions about life’s meaning, with the assumption that there is more to life than what we see or fully understand. (…) While religions aim to foster and nourish the spiritual life–and spirituality is often a salient aspect of religious participation–it is possible to adopt the outward forms of religious worship and doctrine without having a strong relationship to the transcendent.

In the early stages of recovery, an individual who’s part of a religious denomination may feel as if they’re a disappointment to their God. That’s why many of the practices in a religious rehab are based on spirituality, prayer, meditation, and religious support. These practices can help patients feel that they’re not only forgiven but also worthy of that forgiveness, and worthy of a  better life.  

One study showed that people suffering from an addiction who incorporate spirituality into their recovery “often undergo intense spiritual awakenings that facilitate abstinence following treatment. In a study assessing preference for spirituality-based interventions among substance-abusing residents of a therapeutic community, noted strong support for the incorporation of spirituality or a formal 12-step approach into treatment” (NLM).

This 12-step method of treatment can be tailored to any religion, as the template came from Alcoholics Anonymous, which doesn’t belong to any single denomination or religious body—hence the phrase God of our understanding.  

A lot people suffering with addiction also struggle with lack of spirituality, self-worth, loneliness, and emptiness. According to the National Library of Medicine “some substance-using patients report that spirituality is central to their lives as well as to their recovery.”

Finding A Balance With Religion And Spirituality

Another area that a lot of people find to be troublesome in recovery is the area of balance, and living a well-rounded life. Finding a balance can prove to be difficult especially during the early stages of recovery, but balance can be an essential part of recovery as well as religion. Because addiction is often a product of environmental, individual, physiological, psychological, spiritual, and social variables, each of these areas must be tended to in treatment—a religious rehab can do just that.

Balance may be found through proper diet, sleep, exercise, healthy work schedule, as well though community support, religious bodies, and spiritual support groups. Religious rehabs can aid a person’s success by turning their attention and will over to a God of their understanding. By doing so, they take the focus off of self, and place it upon something larger than it. Finding a balance is essentially a way of leveling out the positive and negative parts of a person’s life.

For many people overcoming addiction and substance abuse, balance is found through inpatient rehab. But what about after that? Some people will benefit when religious rehab is followed by various faith-based community organizations. It’s important to remember that no matter how a person overcomes an addiction, recovery doesn’t stop once they quit using drugs—recovery is a lifelong process.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, faith-based and community organizations help to support resilience and recovery in substance use prevention and treatment, and mental health services. These programs:

  • demonstrate the effectiveness of local, grassroots programs in eliciting positive changes in people’s lives
  • while paving the way for individuals to become full partners in American society

How Do Religious Rehab Centers Work?

A religious rehab center can help patients build a stronger relationship with their God, no matter their religious preference or belief. These rehabs help people strengthen their understanding of a particular faith through religious texts and practices. Texts may include the Holy Bible, Torah, Quran, or the various sacred texts of Buddhism. Religious practices may include group prayer, worship services, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, or drug education based on spiritual principles.

From these religious practices, it is believed that a person overcoming addiction will be less likely to relapse with a new-found understanding of self. Not only does this process have the potential to help clients recover, but it can also strengthen their faith and relationship with their God. By repairing and improving the relationship with a God of their understanding, they are ultimately healing their body, mind, and spirit from addiction.

What Should I Expect From A Religious Rehab Center?

Most religious rehabs will accept patients just as they are, and help them grow stronger in their faith. The priorities of a religious rehab will be to help a person overcome addiction, and achieve religious growth. Whether they come from no religious background or raised in the church, anyone will be accepted.

A lot of people who come from religious backgrounds find that their faith is able to flourish without judgment, accusation, or temptation when they take part in a religious rehab program.

Religious Rehabs offered in the United States:

  • Christianity
  • Baptist
  • Greek Orthodox
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Judaism
  • Lutheran
  • Methodist
  • Mormonism
  • Catholicism
  • Presbyterian
  • Protestant

Learning healthy behaviors will be no less important in a religious rehab as it will be in a secular one. You should expect similar structure and guidance in each type of religious rehab. In an inpatient religious rehab, there’s still a therapist, as well as comprehensive, holistic, and individual-based treatment, the difference is that religion and spirituality will be a focal point and will be widely accepted.

How To Find A Religious Rehab That’s Right For You

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about religious rehab centers, contact today. Our treatment specialists will find a program that fits your individual needs. We want to guide you in your recovery journey—contact us today.

U.S. National Library of Medicine - The Role of Social Support, Spirituality, Religiousness, Life Meaning...

U.S. National Library of Medicine - A Focus Group Study on Spirituality and Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - About Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

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