Faith Based Addiction Recovery

If you are devoted to your faith and have a drug or alcohol problem; a religious based treatment program might be a good fit. In fact, combining your existing faith with a medical recovery program will probably result in a better success rate. I have know plenty of drug using and alcoholic priests in recovery; completely devoted to God but helpless when it came to their addiction. For the most part, faith alone is not enough.

There are a variety of spiritual treatment tools and programs — most are founded around Christian  methods. Every program is a bit different, but faith-based recovery tends to share a few things in common.

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The Christian Broadcasting Network has several web pages devoted to drug addiction.

One, is the way that religion is presented. Programs with a focus on punishment aren’t very popular  It’s easy to see why. Most addicts already think they are bad people. Programs, focusing on support and empowerment are more common and work better. This is done by adding  faith-based tools to fill the void that the drugs once filled.

Most programs share some commonalities:

• Believing in God
• Practicing prayer
• Turning one’s will over to a higher power
• Creating a moral inventory of one’s self
• Admitting sins and transgressions to God
• Sharing sins and transgressions with others in the program
• Seeking forgiveness from those one has wronged due to addiction and substance abuse
• Attributing meaning to one’s life experiences
• Educating participants about spiritual principles
• Relying on Biblical principles
• Participating in a faith-based community
• Helping others overcome addiction
• Carrying the message to others suffering from addiction
• Drug addiction education and counseling
• Detox and guided withdrawal process
• Relapse prevention training and techniques

The goal of most of these programs  is to help the addict strengthen their relationship with Christ as they seek recovery. People who are not Christians who enroll in one of these programs might feel uncomfortable.

Christianity in the form of Celebrate Recovery and AA

These two organizations are faith-based recovery support groups. There is no medical treatment or detox involved. Celebrate Recovery focuses heavily on religion. AA focuses more on finding a “higher power”.

Celebrate Recovery:

  • John Baker, is the Founder and Pastor of Celebrate Recovery.
  • It was started in 2001
  • It is a Christ-centered program that was started by Saddleback Church.
  • Over 10,500 individuals have gone through the program.
  • Over 6,000 individuals have completed the program.
  • It is used at over 10,000 churches nationwide.
  • It is translated into 19 different languages.

The Celebrate Recovery and AA split:

In 2001, Rick Warren (Saddleback’s Head Pastor) felt there was a need for John to focus his attention, solely on a recovery ministry. He dedicated himself to the Celebrate Recovery program and wrote the curriculum and accompanying book called “Life’s Healing Choices”. The tag line he uses is “we all need recovery from life’s hurts, hangups and habits”. He introduces himself as “Hi I’m John, a Believer who struggles with alcohol”. Celebrate Recovery borrows heavily from the original 12-step model.

In another video John Baker talks about the history of AA and sites an article from Christianity Today, published in 1991. He feels that Christ followers have a hard time connecting to some of the non-religious aspects of the AA fellowship. The problem he has with the AA steps, is the reference to “God as you understand him”. Christ followers find this too non-specific and feel the term is too “new age”.  AA talks about alcoholism as a disease. Celebrate Recovery feels that it is a moral problem. Bill W. (one of the founders of AA) describes having a profound spiritual experience, that launched his sobriety. Celebrate Recovery feels that Bill W. wasn’t much a religious man. They feel that the principles in the AA book were taken from a doctor named William Silkworth and an Episcopalian Pastor named Sam Shoemaker. AA describes alcoholism as a mental, physical and spiritual disease. Celebrate Recovery feels that the disease concept removes any moral responsibility from the problem. They refer to alcoholism as a sin addiction. It develops from a person making poor choices.

Confused: the short version is that Celebrate Recovery is AA with a lot of Bible teachings

I am going to discuss two other major differences. First, Celebrate Recovery typically meets only once a week. It is normally a social event. There is mingling before and after the meeting. Members seem to have a lot of fun attending the event and look forward to going. On the other hand, AA meetings are held almost every day, in every city, around the world. They do not require a social component. The meeting types are varied. Second, Celebrate Recovery tends to mix addicts, overeaters alcoholics and “fill in the blank”. AA tends to keep to a “singleness of purpose”, focusing on alcohol. If you have another problem, chances are there is a meeting for you. For more information you can read Unraveling some of the mystery and controversy of Alcoholics Anonymous

The bottom line -If you are a devoted Christian and need a medical detox or rehab program; a faith-based center might be a good fit.

If you don’t need a rehab and you just want to go to meeting, then there is an option for you. My article on Recovery, Support and 12-Step Groups will get your started.

I write this for fun and for free, my company website is here.



24 thoughts on “Faith Based Addiction Recovery

  1. I’ve been to both Al Anon and Celebrate Recovery (CR).
    CR is a better fit for me.
    But the point is to find the right group for you. Don’t give up on the first meeting. Try a different location or night. Makes all the different when you connect to the people in the room.

    Make the next right decision for you! One day at a time.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. i have yet to find anything based on paganism and recovery. i know won’t in my area as I live in the bible belt, but I haven’t seen anything online either. i’m sure there has to be something out there, and hopefully i’ll stumble upon it someday! while i don’t mind what path anyone takes, and i love learning from all different ways, it would be nice to find some who are like minded to my views. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was severely co-dependent and started going to CR to help my then husband with his addiction. He choose not to seek recovery and I have been going for over three years and living a pretty amazing life today. Due in large part to my recovery and getting me better with the help of God and some amazing friends. If you have faith and have any hurt, habit or hangup…(which most of us do). I would highly recommend this program.

    I also enjoyed AA meetings. Sometimes our best source of recovery is to realize we are not alone and people change and get better all the time. Find out what is best for you.


    1. Wow, thanks for sharing your personal experience. I love the way you not only work your CR program, but it obvious your open-minded and caring. If you already attend a church, it has to be a great way to get sober.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good information. I chose AA years ago because I had been beat down as a moral degenerate by religionists whereas AA offered me hope. Today, I love my church and my faith based commitment to sobriety but I will always refer a drinking problem to AA.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Any programme of recovery is better than no programme at all. Eventually, if an alcoholic or addict tries hard enough, they will find something which really works for them in the longer term. And, recovery is not just about staying sober and clean, it’s about living a real and fulfilling life. Neither AA or a faih based recovery programme is likely to be comfortable with what really worked for me… But live and let live is a good mantra to follow.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So true. I used to be so narrow-minded when it came to recovery. I judged any program that was different than the one that worked for me. It was my husband who pointed out “Victoria, a person is always going to think what worked for them is the only thing that will work for anyone”. How embarrassing true. I was acting like a octogenarian (80 year old) yelling at teenagers “we didn’t have computers in my day) 🙂 I got sober in the 90’s …. there were not as many options as there are today. If you are sober – that is a good thing – no matter what.


  7. I think handing over the burden to whatever your higher power is… is very powerful in a recovery program. Matching a program that fits with the individual is extremely important, especially for those with heavy faith influenced lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post! Putting my trust in God and making a quality decision is where it all started for me. To be honest i dont think i wouldve come this far without my faith. I was a drug addict for 15 years. I am proud to say i have been sober for 12 years now. Celebrate recovery is a great recovery programme. We are currently involved with a rehab centre where we provide faith based assistance and teachings to the patients there. The celebrate recovery programme is also part of the rehabilitation’s daily programme. Great blog

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you stopping by. What a wonderful combination – recovery center (medical) with Celebrate Recovery (spiritual). One of the rehabs we work with is starting a faith-based option. Maybe it is becoming a trend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Victoria, yeah, the two work very well together. When i decided to get my life sorted out and come off drugs, i was admitted to two rehab centres. The first one i spent 21 days there and the second one i spent 31 days there. Both were centred around the 12 steps of AA. The first rehab was a faith-based centre where we focused on the 12 steps of AA as well as dveloping our faith in God. The second rehab was also focused on AA principles and encouraged the patients to grow their faith in a higher power. I have honestly fopund that a faith based programme really helps and empowers the individual to recover. The rehab we are now currently involved in is having great results with celebrate recovery. Its really awesome to see how people are strengthened and empowered in the process. The book i have written is my first-hand and experience and personal journey of recovery. Its very practical. Faith based recovery is very practical and very empowereing.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Victoria, the title of my book is: YES YOU CAN Winning the battle over addiction by Brennan Dauberman. There is some more info about it on my blog site with the books table of contents and a picture of the cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Victoria, my book is now available for FREE on Amazon. Im sure you may find it helpful and interesting. Just go to my last blog and click on the link.


  11. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

    Liked by 1 person

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