Faith based substance abuse treatment is becoming more and more popular as greater and greater success is experienced with higher power centered treatment. This is not a new idea however Alcoholics Anonymous of course has always recognized the importance in the reliance on a higher power for recovery.
I am grateful to see all kinds of faith based treatment going on around the country. In the not so distant past there has been some kind of strange separation between accepted treatment methods and faith or a connection with God. There also has existed in various religious communities a misguided effort to treat addiction as just a sin that repentance can cure.
If you happen to be a clergy allow me to reason with you concerning this matter. Although cleansing ones’ spirit is of the utmost importance as the addict needs healing for the wounded conscience, and reconciliation for all of the wrong doings and hurtful deeds. However this alone is not enough, a sincere desire to change although imminently important falls short of the very real medical and psychological care that they need to succeed.
There are psychological lesions that need to be disinfected and closed, there are cascading thought patters that will inevitably lead the addict to use if they are not taught how to change those patterns. There are also some very real physical side affects that must be dealt with effectively. There are in many cases self medicating users who desperately need medication.
Let me ask you a question. If you had a loved one who was diagnosed with cancer would you not employ all of your faith and prayers in their behalf, and then would you not do all that was humanly possible and employ all available medical treatment to help them? Perhaps the same approach should be taken with substance abuse. There are very qualified and talented professionals out there ready to help.
The reason in my opinion, for much success in the faith based treatment realm is because the addiction in many cases is so far out of control that the addict becomes hopeless. Hopelessness will always lead to relapse, we can in no wise move forward if we are not possessed of a clear hope that we will succeed.
I would like to share an example, pleas indulge me. I remember being prescribed Lortab for pain following a surgery. I was aware of the addictive effects and so I only took it when the pain was unbearable. When the time came to stop taking the Lortab, I was able through my own will power to stop. I did experience some achy ness and irritability but it was not overpowering and I was able to stop through my own volition. Now consider how much more difficult it would be to stop if the usage had gone on for years. I myself with my limited personal experience with Lortab can see it as a problem that cannot be overcome alone. Placing faith in God that he will help you after you have gone as far as you are capable, or in other words even though the addict is not capable of overcoming the addiction, having faith that God wants them to succeed and that he will make up where they lack is in many cases the only way to keep from slipping into hopelessness.
Most addicts are constantly teetering on the edge of hopelessness, they have experienced daily and sometimes hourly failure over an extended period of time. Many addicts have compromised their standards to the point of extreme self loathing and have convinced themselves that they are worthless.
Helping addicts build or rebuild a relationship with God will have a profound influence on self esteem, and will build hope as they learn that they never have to be alone in their efforts to change, and that they do not have to accomplish the impossible, they just have to do all they can.