How Beneficial is Religious Faith in Addiction Recovery?

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The roles of faith and religion vary when it comes to addiction and treatment practices — according to research from the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, religious and nonreligious youth do not have different patterns of drug or alcohol use.

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration supports around 800 programs in local communities that are based on faith. Faith can be an integral part of treatment or simply a backdrop for more traditional or medicinal approaches to rehabilitation.

Although religion is generally beneficial for those who practice it during treatment, some faith-based addiction recovery programs reject medication, professional support and/or other conventional practices for prayer and spiritual practices. Some believe it’s up to God to cure their illness, but extensive addiction research indicates that comprehensive professional treatment is necessary for the best chance of recovery.

A study published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse revealed that religious and spiritual practices suffered during the drug use period but went “hand-in-hand” with addiction recovery.

Still, there are many benefits of practicing faith and spirituality as the patient works through recovery. Some benefits experienced by individuals in recovery — such as lower levels of anxiety, increased optimism and resistance to stress, and greater perception of social support — are usually associated with the people who were already previously religious.

When a nonreligious person who has a substance use disorder seeks recovery, it can be beneficial for them to choose an addiction treatment that best suits their belief system. When the person is without a faith-based program, they can try to fill the gap in their lives in other ways.

According to a study published in Scielo, purpose and sustainable recovery come from many factors, not just religious faith. Peer support and group interactions are other additional elements that can facilitate recovery but whether a person is religious or not, having a purpose or a reason to move forward is integral to the process of addiction recovery.

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