How Faith-Based Rehab Can Help You Overcome Addiction

By on March 13, 2015

By Mike Waiton –

If you’re an addict or a recovering addict, you’ve probably met plenty of other recovering folks who don’t believe in God, or who aren’t sure if there is a God. Many recovery support groups, including the 12-Step program, are accepting of agnostics and atheists. But for many recovering addicts, faith in God and Jesus Christ are essential parts of recovery.

According to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, there are 527 faith-based addiction treatment centers in the United States. Many of these programs espouse the disease model of addiction, and many of them even use the 12 Steps — with the understanding that the “Higher Power” discussed in the Steps is none other than the traditional Christian God. Many addicts who’ve found recovery through faith-based programs say they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Eternal Recovery Through Jesus Christ

Faith-based recovery programs advocate the belief that healing from addiction is possible through belief in Jesus Christ. While many of these programs also accept the disease theory of addiction, some maintain that all disease is a result of original sin, and that there was no disease in the world before the first sin. Addiction, like other diseases, can be healed through belief in God, these programs say. Other faith-based addiction counselors believe that addiction is the result of demonic forces that must be countered with the might of God.

Even those faith-based programs that do not support the disease model of addiction advocate the idea that belief in God is necessary in order to move forward from addiction. There’s one crucial difference between faith-based programs and secular ones. While secular programs like the 12 Steps may maintain that addiction is a permanent condition that needs to be constantly guarded against with 12-Step meetings and vigilance, faith-based programs adopt the philosophy that belief in Jesus Christ can heal addiction for all eternity.

For many recovering addicts, the faith-based approach makes sense. Billy Bob, a recovering addict who used faith-based treatment to overcome a 25-year cocaine addiction, told The Fix, “Secular treatment…just didn’t work for me. There wasn’t a change in my heart. There was no real endgame. So I was going to do my 12 Steps and then what? Go to meetings for the rest of my life and substitute AA for drugs? I just couldn’t see how it was going to work out. But I look at faith — there’s an eternity.” If you believe in the Christian faith, or you’re willing to open your heart to it, you may want to try faith-based addiction treatment to fill the void that you’ve previously tried to fill with alcohol and drugs.

How Faith Based Rehab Can Help You Overcome Addiction 2Science Says Spirituality Helps With Recovery

The 12-Step program is based on the idea that spiritual healing is necessary in order for an addict to overcome addiction. New scientific evidence has shown that spirituality can indeed be a powerful force for recovery from addiction. Researchers at Florida State University have found that prayer helps alcoholics drink less.

It doesn’t even matter if you pray to stop drinking or pray for something else — it’s the prayer itself that’s the key. Perhaps that’s why one North Carolina faith-based rehab, Christian Love Ministries, cites a 48 percent success rate among its graduates, and St. Joseph Institute in Pennsylvania cites a one-year success rate of up to 80 percent.

The Florida State researchers believe that praying, whether for oneself or others, makes people feel less self-conscious and may distract addicts from their own problems, reducing the need to abuse substances. Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that the greater the number of religious or spiritual experiences a recovering addict has in the early stages of recovery, the less likely he or she is to experience a relapse later. Addiction treatment experts of all stripes agree that spiritual practices, including praying and going to church, serve as a form of self-soothing. The inability to self-soothe is a common deficiency among addicts, who find themselves compelled to abuse drugs and alcohol because they know of no other way to cope with negative emotions, traumatic experiences, and the stresses of everyday life.

If you’re struggling with addiction and looking for a way out, consider turning to God. Many addicts have found lasting recovery and lifelong hope through Jesus Christ. There’s no reason you can’t join them, as long as you’re open to it.


Mike Waiton is a youth pastor who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He enjoys hiking, camping, going to the beach, cooking, and spending time with his wife and two sons. He has been sober for 15 years.

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How Faith-Based Rehab Can Help You Overcome Addiction