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.
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”.
- 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.