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Holistic Addiction Treatment: Prayer / Spiritual Healing

The treatment of addiction has always been a very subjective discipline. This is because the methods that work for one individual may not work for another. While traditional medicines, like pharmaceuticals and behavioral therapy, have been known to be effective for many individuals, some addicts need more in their recovery programs, a fact which often causes interest in holistic methods.

One of the most common of these is prayer or spiritual healing. For many people, these methods cause a newly invigorated desire to live more positively and productively, which often helps to combat the symptoms of addiction recovery and withdrawal.

How Can Spirituality Be Used During Addiction Recovery?

spirituality and recovery

Many people find prayer and spirituality to be helpful during addiction treatment.

According to the National Cancer Institute, “Studies have shown that religious and spiritual values are important to Americans… However, people have different ideas about life after death, belief in miracles, and other religious beliefs.” The variety of beliefs and the differing amount of seriousness and reverence in which they are held make it difficult to understand exactly how effective spiritual healing and prayer can be during addiction recovery. It is because of every individual’s differing spiritual needs as well that it can be complicated to incorporate this method into a formal treatment program.

However, as stated by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Individuals recovering from addictions frequently cite spirituality as a helpful influence.” Many feel that prayer, religious counsel, and other types of spiritual methods can be very beneficial to their overall recovery. But how does this work?

There are certain ways in which these concepts have been known to help individuals in times of stress, and especially those going through rehab and recovery.

  • Spirituality can provide comfort to those who feel they have no other place to turn. Instead of feeling alone, an individual may feel that a higher power is watching over them and guiding them toward better actions or even toward a better life. In addition, those who grew up with religious associations will often find comfort in these programs as an adult. This comforting aspect can also translate into helping with certain withdrawal symptoms that are common amongst recovering individuals, including insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
  • These methods often provide a much needed feeling of strength, as many individuals feel that becoming addicted to a substance has made them unable to control their lives. Spiritual and religious methods often help those who seek them by providing the strength of belief––in a higher power, in the power of change, and in oneself. It can also provide the strength to refuse drug or alcohol abuse in recovery and help an individual stay sober, even in the face of triggers and cravings.
  • Many people feel they have made decisions they aren’t proud of as the result of becoming addicted to a harmful substance. For this, religious methods often provide a sense of morality that helps them stick to their conviction to quit and to remember what is the safest and most scrupulous action to take in a given situation.

For many of these reasons, spiritual healing can be a part of an overall recovery plan, if it benefits the individual. Prayer itself can encompass all these benefits as well and allow individuals to feel more connected to their spiritual selves and to a higher being. Through these methods, numerous people gain something more, something that traditional medicine cannot give them. In this case, spiritual healing can be a strong motivator, in one way or another, for those living with addiction and attempting to rehabilitate.

Which Addiction Treatment Programs Utilize Spiritual Healing and Prayer?

One of the most well known programs that uses this method is Alcoholics Anonymous. This program has existed since 1939 and focuses largely on spiritual methods to help individuals stop drinking. In fact, one of the Twelve Steps of AA is to “Believe that a power greater than” yourself can “restore [you] to sanity,” and another involves making “a decision to turn [your] will and [your life] over to the care of God as [you] understand Him.” This program has been very popular, and many studies on its success have produced strong results. Programs like Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, and others all follow a similar set of principles.

Programs like these tend to be more hands-off and allow attendance at the discretion of the individual. However, there are also a number of facilities, both inpatient- and outpatient-based, when you can receive religious or spiritual counsel in addition to traditional addiction treatment modalities. These facilities can be found through your doctor, spiritual advisor, or an Internet directory like SAMHSA‘s treatment locator.

What are the Drawbacks to Spiritual Healing for Addiction Recovery?

The main downside to this method is that it does not work for everyone. Some individuals feel uncomfortable with the concept of religious or spiritual methods in their treatment and prefer to avoid them. However, as stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.”

What is the Best Way to use Spiritual Healing and Prayer for Addiction Treatment?

The best way to utilize these methods is to do so as part of a larger treatment program. Whether you decide to attend AA but also consult with your doctor about traditional methods or you choose a treatment program that uses both traditional and spiritual techniques, this holistic treatment can be very beneficial for you if you are an individual who gains something positive from spirituality, religion, and/or prayer.

If you are considering using spiritual healing of any kind during your recovery:

  • Research the program and/or method itself in order to learn more about its principles and whether or not they line up with your own.
  • Discuss the program with your doctor, especially if it involves the use of any substances or any physical methods.
  • As you attend the program, consider whether or not it is causing positive thoughts and feelings in you, as well as whether it is helping to minimize any issues associated with your drug abuse.

If you feel that the method works for you, you should continue to use it. Every individual is different, and our reasons for choosing to stop abusing dangerous substances differ from one another’s; the method that may help you the most could be tied to spiritual healing and prayer.

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