Clinical and anecdotal research over the last several years shows that coupling religiosity with addiction recovery yields excellent treatment and relapse prevention results. For example, one 2007 study found that a staggering 82% of those who experienced a spiritual awakening in treatment remained fully sober at a 12-month follow-up, compared to only 55% for those who didn’t.
Other data also revealed that experiencing a spiritual awakening while participating in a 12-Step program can increase your chances of staying sober after treatment by four times.
Why is faith-based addiction treatment so effective for so many people? We took a closer look at some reasons behind the success of religious-centered recovery programs, specifically Christian ones. If you have never considered a Christian treatment center for yourself or your loved one, here are some thoughts on why you should:
1. Something Greater Than Self to Believe In
When we learn and accept that there’s a higher power out there who knows and loves us individually and desires that we succeed, that faith works within us to gain a greater sense of purpose and potential. We develop confidence that we can beat our addictions because we have Christ on our side.
You also realize that your life means something. You weren’t put on this earth to exist and then pass away. There is a reason why you are alive, and Christ has work for you to do. Knowing that he is so profoundly invested can help you see that you do not ‘walk through the valley of the shadow of death alone or without a promise of aid. Trials and setbacks thus become opportunities for growth and understanding, not crippling events that permanently sabotage our recovery.
2. Renews and Strengthens Spirituality That Has Been Lost
Substance abuse wastes little time in blocking out what little if any, spiritual light we may have enjoyed before we took that first drink or hit. What’s left is a life filled with physical and emotional pain and darkness because addiction separates us from Christ, our ultimate source of light. Substance use disorder (SUD) also takes us away from the people closest to us who often reflect that holy light – our family and friends.
Therapists and counselors in a faith-based treatment center like Renaissance Ranch will usually focus on reconnecting you with Christ’s light and influence by using the 12-Step program. Each step – from turning your life over to God and his son, Jesus Christ, in Step 3 to sharing your spiritual awakening with others in Step 12 – contains essential components that will bring us closer to Christ.
3. Improves Mental Health Treatment
More than a third of the people with a SUD have co-occurring mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. That means they will need dual-diagnosis treatment to address their addiction and their mental illness.
Although religion and scientific therapy modalities like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) might present opposing ideas, they can and do coexist relatively harmoniously. One study found that people who believe in God responded better to psychotherapy and enjoyed greater feelings of well-being.
CBT, for example, is a form of therapy that helps a person modify negative behaviors by identifying and challenging the thoughts and feelings behind them. Likewise, Christians look to Christ for help and guidance in overcoming sin and becoming more like him in our thoughts and actions. In these instances, religion and science both address the behaviors as flawed, not the person.
Faith traditions also rely heavily on their own types of therapeutic meditation and mindfulness, such as prayer, scripture reading, and confession.
4. Provides fellowship and support
It’s easy to feel isolated and alone when caught in the throes of drug or alcohol addiction. A faith community provides you with a group of people who share similar beliefs and spiritual goals. In an addiction treatment setting, this shared faith in Christ offers increased connection and fellowship with others traveling along the same road to recovery.
Sometimes in a secular drug or alcohol rehab, the focus is solely on scientifically-proven therapies with little or no room for religious programming. In faith-based treatment centers, however, you don’t need to worry about feeling set apart or unsupported in accessing your religious beliefs to help in your fight against substance abuse.
5. Develops a Sense of Accountability
The idea that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ just that which you or society believes, lies at the heart of secularism and moral relativism. Religious tradition, on the other hand, states that we are accountable to a higher power for our actions.
Some would argue that this belief in being responsible to God for what we do only feeds into the guilt and shame we already feel from our addiction. We disagree. Forgiveness and healing are central aspects of who Christ is and what his life and sacrifice were about. Accountability helps us recognize when we’re on the wrong path, and forgiveness allows us not to remain stuck there.
6. Offers hope for healing, forgiveness
People suffering from substance abuse disorder often have lost all hope of ever being redeemable. “I have made such a mess of things; there’s no way anyone will ever love me again” is a typical line of thinking when we start trying to challenge our addiction. We feel hated and worthless and, as a result, isolate ourselves and sink further into despair.
A strong belief in Christ and an understanding of his attributes rebuild our trust that he can heal us of our weaknesses and mistakes. We can be forgiven of our misdeeds, no matter how dark or awful they were. Christ is the ultimate example of loving without judgment, forgiving without condemnation, and compassion without condition.
7. Changes Our Outlook
Opening ourselves up to the Christian ideologies of selflessness, love, compassion, repentance, and forgiveness can do much to change our attitude toward our situation. No longer do we need to feel guilt-ridden for being plagued by the sickness of addiction. Selfishness and self-absorption fade into the background, and empathy and understanding take over. We develop hope for a future without substances, both for ourselves and the people who share our recovery journey.
If you want to know more about our Christ-centered approach to substance abuse rehab, please call us at 855-736-7262.