In the 1920s, when the approach to addiction and treatment was in its early stages, the psychologist Carl Jung treated a patient named Rowland Hazard, who was struggling with alcoholism. Hazard received treatment but soon relapsed and returned to see Jung.
To his surprise, Jung told his patient that his case was all but hopeless and that medicine and psychiatry didn’t have a viable cure for addiction at the time. But, according to the Alcoholics Anonymous handbook called The Big Book, he added, “Exceptions to cases such as yours have been occurring since early times. Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences.”
Spirituality and the need for spiritual healing were foundational to how we have learned to treat addiction and alcoholism today. At the beginning of the 20th century, we began to understand that addiction wasn’t simply a moral failing or a bad habit, but a disease that needed healing. Carl Jung recognized that spiritual healing was an important but difficult to grasp part of addiction treatment.
Hazard later went onto join a Christian organization called the Oxford Group, where he did have a “vital spiritual experience.” He passed on the idea of inner transformation as a remedy for alcoholism to a friend. That friend also shared it with Bill Wilson, who would later become a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Faith and spirituality can be a vital part of addiction treatment for many people. Though we have a better understanding of addiction and more treatment options today than in the 1920s, some people still need spiritual healing for recovery to take root in their lives. Learn more about faith-based options in addiction recovery and how they might be able to help you.
Faith-based treatment options may help you to engage in your treatment plan better than a standard treatment program. The disease of addiction may put a lot of things in your life on hold. It may prevent you from furthering your career or starting a family. People who struggle with addiction often experience shame and guilt that can make them feel that their relationship with God and the people in their lives is strained. As you go through treatment, some of those aspects of your life may still have to wait, especially if you go through detox and residential treatment. However, your relationship with God doesn’t have to wait.
But finding the right faith-based treatment option is important. Your goal should be to find a program or resources that allow you to get the evidence-based treatment that you need to heal your mind and body while also providing spiritual healing. Here are some areas where you might find some effective faith-based treatment options.
Some addiction treatment centers have faith-based options as a part of their standard treatment programs. If you want to connect to a community of other people with similar beliefs, or if you’re curious about a faith-based program, these tracks can help you address your spiritual needs in treatment.
Faith-based tracks often involve meetings with a chaplain, pastor, or another spiritual teacher. Though Christian tracks in treatment programs are the most common, you may be able to Islamic or Jewish tracks at certain centers. Addiction treatment plans should be tailored to your individual needs, and taking advantage of specific tracks in treatment can help personalize your plan.
Addiction treatment would cover multiple areas of need, including biological, psychological, and social needs. Faith-based tracks also help you address spiritual needs and concerns.
Local churches are often a great place to find community-based addiction treatment resources that can help you maintain your sobriety during and after treatment. These ministries are excellent for helping you to engage with a community of people with similar goals in both your recovery and in faith.
Local churches and synagogues may also engage in outreach programs that are intended to help connect people with the help they need.
Local ministries might offer community support groups that help to address addiction and sobriety from a faith-based perspective. If you’re interested in local faith ministries, you can speak to some of the local churches in your area.
If you are already in an addiction treatment program, your case manager might be able to help you find a community resource like the one you’re looking for.
Twelve-step programs were born out of the Oxford Group when one of its members (Bill Wilson) broke off to form Alcoholics Anonymous. The program was founded on Christian principles, and spiritual healing and connecting to a community were its main goals. Today, Alcoholics Anonymous is all-inclusive, only acknowledging a vague Higher Power than anyone can identify with. However, there are dozens of other 12 step programs that tweak AA’s’ original structure.
For instance, Celebrate Recovery is an expressly Christian 12-step program that was founded in 1991. It uses the foundational structure of AA but focuses on Christ-centered spiritual healing. Likewise, Jewish organizations like Chabad have also pushed for Jewish people seeking addiction recovery to seek out 12-step programs.
Addiction is a chronic disease that’s difficult to overcome, which is something Jung recognized as far back as the 1920s. However, it’s a treatable disease. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, it’s important to seek help dealing with the addiction as soon as possible. The disease is progressive, which means it can get worse over time unless it’s effectively treated.
Without addressing it, addiction can start to take over different aspects of your life, including your health, relationships, and even your finances. Addressing your substance use problem as early as possible can help you to avoid some of addiction’s worst consequences.
Addiction treatment addresses substance use disorder and any underlying issues like mental health disorders. Whether you have just realized you might have a substance use issue, or if you’ve struggled with one for a while, know that treatment is available. Learn more about addiction treatment and faith-based programs to begin your road to recovery today.
Alcoholics Anonymous. (n.d.). Chapter 2 – There is a Solution – (pp. 17-29). from https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_chapt2.pdf
Celebrate Recovery. (2018, April 5). Celebrate Recovery Home Page. from https://www.celebraterecovery.com/
Chabad. (n.d.). Jewish Recovery – The place for Jewish recovering addicts to meet, communicate and support each other in their recovery. from https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/714274/jewish/Jewish-Recovery.htm
Parsons, M. (2009, March 12). Inside Chabad's 'Jewish Recovery' Movement. from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101794919
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Evidence-Based Approaches to Drug Addiction Treatment. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment