Christian Recovery – One Size Does Not Fit All

For too long I believed that the recovery method that worked for me, was the only recovery method that worked for anyone – period. Anything that differed from my experience was a scam or a fake.  How silly!  Treatment comes in so many varieties.  And that is awesome, because it opens the door for people with a variety of backgrounds.

A long-time popular treatment model is Christian Recovery. Why, is it so popular?  The answer is simple — many Christians prefer a religious based treatment program. This is a great formula for success since, research has shown that participating in religious activities, increases self-esteem, wellbeing, and a feeling of belonging.

However, belonging to a religious organization can also complicate the treatment process. Spiritual beliefs can impact addiction, if the church has strict rule and prohibits use. This is where a Christian Recovery model can really make an impact. With a combination of traditional drug rehab and a spiritual approach to recovery, a faith-based program can help those struggling with addiction, find relief, while supporting and strengthening their faith. For many, this combination leads to a better chance of full recovery.

Christian Sober
A former teetotaler shares his experience as a recovering alcoholic.

The Philosophy

There are a variety of spiritual treatment tools and programs. However, given the Christian majority in the U.S., most faith-based treatment programs focus on Christian addiction treatment methods. Though every program is different, addiction recovery programs based on spirituality tend to share some common goals.

*One common factor is the way that the spiritual and religious elements are presented to those participating in addiction recovery. Most programs focus on providing support and nurturing. This is much more effective than a belief in a all-punishing God.

*Faith based programs tend to believe that a person turns to addictive behavior to try to fill the void left by a lack of spirituality in his or her life. The theory behind this is that adding God or another higher power to the individual’s life will fill that void and remove the need for addictive behavior.

*Most religious recovery facilities combine the teachings of their faith with traditional non-spiritual recovery methods. This combined approach can work well for those willing to get sober and able to embrace religious teachings.

Treatment may include the following:

•Teaching spiritual principles
• Learning to develop a relationship with a higher power
• Engaging in religious study, prayer or mediation
• Education on drugs and alcohol
• Alcohol and drug counseling
• Strength and monitoring during detox or withdrawal
• Group religious studies
• Christian relapse prevention

Faith based recovery commonalities:

• Believing in God and daily practice of prayer
• Turning one’s will over to (God) not just a higher power
• Creating a moral inventory of one’s self
• Admitting sins to God
• Confiding sins with others in the program
• Asking for forgiveness from those who have been harmed
• Finding meaning to one’s life experiences
• Learning about spiritual principles
• Relying on Biblical ways of living
• Engaging in a faith-based community
• Passing it along – Helping others overcome addiction
• Carrying the message to others

Footprints in the Sand Prayer

Most faith-based rehab programs are designed for people who already practice a certain faith. For example, someone who embraces the Christian faith is likely to embrace a Bible-based recovery program. The goal of a program like this is to help individuals strengthen their relationship with Christ as they seek recovery. People who are not Christians who enroll in one of these programs will find that the staff will likely try to convert them. This could make someone practicing a different religion uncomfortable, therefore interfering with his or her recovery. If you are struggling with addiction and want a faith-based treatment option, it’s a good idea to look for one that embraces your religious beliefs.

At one treatment center, that I am familiar with, they offer two programs – faith-based and traditional 12-step.  At Pacific Hills, “Clients may choose the Christian or Traditional program, whichever is most comfortable for them. They may change programs at any time during their treatment. Groups that address the medical or physical basis of addiction are blended, while those groups dealing with life skills, spiritual skills and psychotherapy are separated.”

One thing that sets faith-based recovery programs apart from other programs is the fact that they often treat all addictive behaviors as things that can be cured with the help of religious faith. While drugs and alcohol are the most common addictions treated in these programs, you may also be able to get help if you struggle with other types of issues such as the following:

• Sexual addictions
• Food addictions or eating disorders
• Gambling addictions

Faith-based recovery programs both serve to treat addictions and to strengthen faith. Many Christian and Catholic addiction treatment programs are based on the assumption that individuals turn to drugs and alcohol in order to fill a gap in their life that’s caused by a lack of connection to God. By adding God or a higher power back into the individuals’s life, that gap will be filled, and the urge toward addictive behavior will be reduced.
Our 800RecoveryHub site offers free and confidential help

An Additional Christian Recovery Resource:

National Association for Christian Recovery

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