In Islam, there is a clear prohibition against the use of drugs and alcohol. The Qur’an, Islam’s central text, contains three verses that condemn the use of substances. In fact, the faith views intoxication as tantamount to outright sacrilege:
O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants (khamr), gambling, [sacrificing on] stone altars [to other than God], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. — Qur’an 5:90
In the Qur’an, intoxicants are referred to as “khamr,” the Arabic word for wine. The faith, however, extends that definition to include substances that defile the mind and intellect, lower inhibition or diminish one’s ability to think and feel rationally. It also views intoxicants as any substance that “overcomes” someone.
Simply put, no drugs of any kind are tolerated in the faith. Not even the kind that comes in foods like cooking sauces with white wine or chocolates containing alcohol. Much more so, when it pertains to alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin.
Still, virtually no corner of humanity or geography has been left untouched by the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse. People of every ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic stripe have slipped into the clutches of substance abuse and addiction.
Practitioners of Islam, especially those who reside in America and certain Muslim-majority nations, have not been immune. Many have been left to suffer in silence because substance abuse and addiction are taboo in many religious communities.
They have not been able to speak to, much less, find appropriate help for their addictions.
If this sounds like you or a loved one, read on to learn more about the state of addiction in Muslim-majority countries and communities and the available treatment options that take your faith into consideration.
Bottom line: Don’t let the stigma of addiction in your community prevent you from seeking treatment.
There is not a lot of information available about the incidence of alcohol and substance abuse in Muslim communities in the U.S. and abroad. There is, however, anecdotal evidence that depicts the rise of alcohol and opium abuse in Muslim communities throughout the globe.
In fact, there is evidence that points to a correlation between substance abuse and assimilation. In other words, for someone who identifies as Muslim, the more acculturated or immersed they are in Western culture, the higher the likelihood they will engage in substance abuse, particularly alcohol consumption.
A study published in the Journal of Muslim Mental Health also states that while Muslim majority countries have the lowest or near-lowest alcohol consumption rates per capita in the world, they also have a higher proportion of unreported alcohol consumption.
This same study also indicates that the Islamic countries of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan “have a high prevalence of opiate use and injection drug use with an increasing prevalence of HIV infection….”
Other drugs that are used and produced in Muslim countries include marijuana, amphetamine-based stimulants, and other psychoactive substances. There are also reports that the plant-based stimulant khat is widely abused in Muslim countries as well. Authorities reportedly seized the plant in 51 countries with Muslim majorities.
Then there is the issue of opium abuse in Middle Eastern, Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan. According to a 2013 New York Times article, the country, which is nestled between Iran and Pakistan, has one of the world’s most addicted societies.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced that 8 percent of Afghanistan’s population — about 1 million people — suffers from drug addiction, which is twice the rate of the global average.
So what exactly constitutes a substance disorder?
This question is best answered by the criteria set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The DSM-5 lists 10 or 11 features, depending on the substance, that describes “a problematic pattern of use of an intoxicating substance leading to clinically significant impairment or distress” occurring within 12 months.
If you meet two or three of the following criteria, then you would have a “mild” disorder. If you met four or five of them, that is considered “moderate.” If six or more of the criteria apply to you, then your disorder would rate as “severe.”
Those criteria are as follows:
11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.”
Addiction fundamentally changes how the brain functions. Those effects can last long after someone has stopped taking drugs.
Once someone has developed an addiction to a substance, they will begin to exhibit certain signs where the pursuit of that substance takes precedence over virtually any other thing in their life, including relationships, work, and even their own bodies.
If it sounds like you or a loved one has a substance abuse disorder or addiction, then professional treatment is the best course of action you can take.
In a professional recovery program, a licensed and experienced staff will consult with you to design a specialized treatment plan to meet your specific needs. If you have an addiction to substances like alcohol, heroin, cocaine, or prescription opioids, it is best that you start with a medically supervised detox.
In detox, the addictive substance and other toxins are removed from the body and medications may be administered to treat the painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that may arise.
After you complete detox and your body and mind are stabilized, the next step is to receive ongoing care at a treatment facility. If you have a severe addiction, the most effective option is residential treatment. In this type of program, you will stay onsite at the treatment facility and receive a range of comprehensive care and services that take into account your specialized needs.
For addictions that are not considered severe, there is outpatient treatment, which allows you the freedom and flexibility to live at home while receiving therapy and counseling, on a part-time basis, at a clinic or facility.
Once you complete treatment, you will be connected to aftercare programs designed to equip you with the life skills and coping strategies to necessary serve as a hedge against relapse.
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For people of the Muslim faith, there are special considerations that are considered when they enroll in professional addiction treatment. The integration of the Islamic faith and addiction treatment practice is perhaps best embodied by Millati Islami, a 12-step recovery program for people of the Islamic faith.
The mission for this program is not unlike that of the common 12-step programs found in Western Societies: “We look to Allah (G-D) to guide us on Millati Islami (the Path of Peace). While recovering, we strive to become rightly guided Muslims, submitted our will and services to Allah.”
The 12-steps of Millati Islami are as follows:
12 Steps to Recovery
You do not have to struggle in silence with your addiction. We can help you find a safe and effective treatment solution that provides the comprehensive and specialized services you need to get well.
Call 855-960-5341 anytime, day or evening, for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable addiction recovery specialists. They can help you locate the right treatment option. Contact us online for more information.
12 Steps. (n.d.). Retrieved from from http://www.millatiislami.org/Welcome/12-steps
Ahmed, A. (2018, October 19). That Other Big Afghan Crisis, the Growing Army of Addicts. Retrieved from from https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/world/asia/that-other-big-afghan-crisis-the-growing-army-of-addicts.html
Alexander.sauer. (n.d.). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved from from https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/press/releases/2010/June/unodc-reports-major-and-growing-drug-abuse-in-afghanistan.html
Arfken, L., C., Ahmed, & Sameera. (n.d.). Ten years of substance use research in Muslim populations: Where do we go from here? Retrieved from from https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jmmh/10381607.0010.103/–ten-years-of-substance-use-research-in-muslim-populations?rgn=main;view