Substance abuse presents a compelling threat to public health. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, roughly 2 million people seek treatment for drug and alcohol abuse each year in the U.S.
Perhaps the most common route for addiction recovery is the “12 Step Process,” which was first introduced in the 1939 book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism. The role of faith in the addiction recovery process is well-known, although some wonder if God should even be involved in the journey at all.
Putting Addiction Into Context
According to criteria set forth by the National Center on Addiction and Drug Abuse at Columbia University, an addiction is present when a person:
- Uses a substance frequently, and often in greater amounts than originally planned
- Wants to quit but is unable to do so
- Dedicates a lot of time to tracking down supply
- Uses enough to interfere with everyday activities, like school or work
- Continues to use in light of adverse consequences
- Ceases to participate in enjoyable activities in light of continued substance use
- Uses in situations that pose a threat to safety (such as while operating a vehicle)
- Experiences negative health outcomes, but does not adjust behavior accordingly
- Has persistent and unrelenting cravings
- Has to use more to experience the same effects
- Feels withdrawal symptoms if not using consistently
Why Consider The Role Of God In The Addiction Recovery Process
Recovering from any kind of addiction requires Herculean strength. While it’s possible to overcome addiction without the support and help of God, faith can make the process easier and more fulfilling.
Anecdotally, the 12-Step process enjoys a strong success rate. It involves faith in several steps of the process, from accepting that a higher power can provide you with the balance you’ve lost to asking that the higher power take away your sins.
Moreover, addiction is often a symptom of a greater, deeper trauma. Addressing these issues is easier with the help of a higher power. God can help you heal wounds and, as an addict, realize that not all hope is lost. Submitting oneself to a higher power provides an addict with the clarity needed to move forward with a clear conscience.
Recovery is also a lifelong process. Even the strongest of individuals will come face-to-face with temptation and self-doubt. Recognizing and dealing with these perceived weaknesses is easier to do with prayer and the realization of God’s role in a person’s continued healing.
Potential Downfalls Of Faith And Addiction Recovery
While including the notion of God in the recovery process is an essential aspect for many addicts, some may not completely benefit from it. Non-believers may be turned away from the 12-Step plan because of its heavy emphasis on faith in a higher power.
However, non-believers may still benefit from the plan with a few tweaks. For example, substituting prayer for meditation or self-reflection. These individuals will also benefit from taking responsibility for wrongdoings and consistently remaining cognizant of their behavior.
The addiction recovery process can also be an opportunity for non-believers to see the light. Ultimately, the role of faith in recovery is optional, but beneficial.
Community Discussion: Share Your Thoughts Here!
Do you know someone whose belief in a higher power has helped them recover from addiction? Do you think a belief in God is essential to achieving long-term sobriety? Please comment below.