In 2014, roughly 21.5 million people aged 12 and older had a substance abuse disorder. The following year, it jumped to 27.1 million. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the numbers have only increased since then. Many of the individuals who suffer from substance addiction today don’t receive treatment. And so, they are left to struggle. This can be especially difficult for those who are also struggling with their faith and spirituality. As Christians, we often feel an obligation to uphold a standard and are ashamed to admit when we need help, delaying when we seek treatment. Addiction recovery is a long and winding road, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one. With the right counseling, you can regain your sobriety, your faith, and your spirituality.
Spirituality vs. Religion
The need for a spiritual component in addiction treatment is often proclaimed, but what exactly does this mean? A common mistake is to equating spirituality with religion. While most might confuse the two, or use them interchangeably, there is a distinct difference. Being spiritual means having a connection or relationship to the non-physical things like morals, feelings, and the soul. For Christians, spirituality is the presence of Christ in us. It’s an introspective look into who you are as a person. And, it’s an examination of the world around you. Religion, however, is often a framework to help find spirituality. Being religious often means adhering to a system in reverence to a higher power.
The Practices of Faith and Spirituality
The pursuit and respect of the laws of religion may guide a practitioner to spirituality, or the adherence to the rules themselves may be a form of worship. Too often, the phrase ‘religious’ has a negative connotation. Even C.S. Lewis once said ‘Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst.’ After all, some believers become entrenched in religious practices and develop false pride as a result. Hiding behind the rituals of religion without bearing spiritual fruit is a real concern for Christians. However, the framework religion can provide us to seek spirituality should not be dismissed out of hand.
While it is true that most religions— like Christianity, for example—usually emphasize spirituality, one can be spiritual without being religious. In any case, your sense of spirituality and your religious devotion can both suffer when addiction takes hold of your life. So, learning how to rebuild those things during addiction treatment can help you stay motivated (and sober) in the long run.
Faith-Based Addiction Treatment Counseling
Faith-based counseling is one of the most popular facets of addiction treatment. It helps you rebuild and even strengthen your spiritual health and encourage a sober future. Christian-based counseling sessions are also beneficial since they allow you to process forgiveness and grow your relationship with God alongside other Christians in recovery. Both Spiritual-based and Christ-centered counseling utilize a combination of science-based treatment methods and holistic remedies to address the challenges that addicted individuals face in and out of treatment. Faith-based and spiritual counseling in addiction treatment can be (and usually is) supplemented with:
- Medically-Assisted Detox
- Chronic Pain Management
- The 12-Step Treatment Model
- Individual and Group Counseling
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment Therapies
- Therapy for Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress
- Holistic Therapies (Massage, Chiropractics, Acupuncture, etc.)
- Therapies for Psychological Disorders (Depression, Anxiety, etc.)
The Importance of Addressing Both Faith and Spirituality in Rehab
The programs listed above are standard for most rehab facilities, but they focus on healing the physical and mental strain of addiction. The purpose of faith-based and spiritual forms of counseling is to help you regain a sense of purpose, personal growth, and direction during your recovery process.
Both Faith-Based and Spiritual Counseling Involve:
A Thorough Assessment
In many cases, individuals struggling with addiction initially turned to drugs or alcohol to cope with something else going on in their lives— like depression, anxiety, financial problems, or relationship issues. These are just some examples. So, before your addiction treatment starts, counselors will perform a thorough assessment to determine what started your addiction. From there, your faith and spirituality are assessed to determine the most appropriate forms of treatment for you. And, typically, this will include at least one of the medical or psychological services listed above.
Addiction is harmful to all forms of your health: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. In treatment and recovery, practicing mindfulness will help you decrease stress and reestablish a spiritual foundation—whether based on faith or not. To help you get in the habit of practicing mindfulness, the counselors work closely with the detox medical staff, the facility’s pastors, and your therapists. These collaborative treatment efforts will help you better understand the negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors connected to your addiction— as well as how to navigate them to maintain sobriety once treatment has ended.
Building a Sense of Connectivity
Most of the time, both faith-based and spiritual counseling can be performed in one-on-one or group settings, so it’s up to you which kind you’d like to try during treatment. In any case, both forms of counseling— especially together— can help you build a sense of connectivity with others during the recovery process.
A large part of both faith-based and spiritual counseling is the emphasis on community expansion. With some help from your counselors, you’ll be able to build positive, healthy relationships with others in recovery and rekindle the links with friends, family, and God that were damaged by addiction. Developing this sense of connectivity (and re-connectivity) with others will be an essential component of your relapse prevention plan when you eventually reintegrate yourself into a daily routine outside of rehab.
The Benefits of Practicing Faith and Spirituality in Recovery
Faith and spirituality play an important role in addiction recovery. Exploring your sense of spirituality and re-examining the areas of your beliefs that are important to you will help you:
- identify the cause/source of your addiction
- determine the best coping mechanisms to use
- build a stronger sense of self-respect and self-love
- figure out how to navigate your triggers outside of treatment
- learn the decision-making and social skills you’ll need to stay sober
- maintain healthy relationships based on mutual respect and support
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