Is Acupuncture a Legitimate SUD Therapy?
November 4, 2021
Is Group Therapy That Important?
November 18, 2021
Show all

Can Spirituality Aid in SUD Recovery?

A woman with a prayerful hand on a yellow background.

Undergoing a mental health crisis can be a very difficult time, especially when a substance use disorder (SUD) is involved. And while seeking help and undergoing detox is hard enough, committing to the therapy and self-improvement needed to achieve long-term recovery from SUD can often be more challenging.

Typically, a full recovery from mental health problems like SUD cannot be done with just a few big gestures. Achieving this almost certainly at least several months of consistent work. While each single recovery activity tends to be easy enough for most individuals, it’s doing them all consistently that tends to be the main stumbling block.

For this reason, many therapists and clinicians who work with SUD patients will try to help them improve their motivation to continue with their therapy and self-improvement. This is typically where an individual’s specific belief systems come into play.

The United States is one of the most religious countries in the western world, with about 8-in-10 people professing to believe in some religion or higher power and about 7-in-10 belonging to one of the many branches of Christianity. This usually means that spirituality in the Christian context often has a role to play in SUD recovery, at least in the American context.

Here are some benefits recovering individuals may derive from harnessing their faith.

1.) The Power of Prayer

Even if one doesn’t necessarily believe that prayer can directly affect real-world outcomes, the fact remains that structured prayer can be considered a form of meditation, and this meditative aspect has been linked to many mental health benefits.

Meditation, whether through prayer or some other activity, has been linked to an immediate reduction in stress and anxiety symptoms and may be crucial in creating new connections in the brain. Over time, these new connections can help ingrain positive behaviors that counteract the ones caused by repeated substance misuse.

2.) Deeper Community Support

Belonging to a community that you share a religion or other ideology with allows you to share more meaningful connections with others. While religion and spirituality are not the only ways to achieve these deeper connections, these can be very helpful if the patient already has these beliefs, to begin with. This may mean that, in many cases, religious or spiritual individuals may have an advantage over their less-religious peers when it comes to their recovery outcomes.

3.) Allows One to Regularly Practice Gratitude

Most of the world’s biggest religions have an underlying theme of surrender to a higher power. Because surrender is not necessarily instinctive for everyone, the active practice of gratitude has become almost universal in most major belief systems, as well. Many prayers are centered on gratitude or touch on these themes.

This expression of gratitude, when done regularly, can have a range of benefits for recovering individuals. Studies show that gratitude can greatly influence a person’s happiness and outlook. Over time, the active practice of gratitude can effectively rewire a person’s brain to have a higher baseline for happiness, something that can reduce the odds of a serious relapse.

4.) A Sense of Purpose

Though this won’t necessarily apply to everyone spiritual or religious, one’s belief system can create a sense of purpose, which, in turn, can influence the motivation to get better. Many religions encourage people to look beyond their own problems and to uplift others, which can be a very rewarding and motivating experience. A sense of purpose can also help build the mental resilience needed to bounce back from an SUD.

Find Faith-based Recovery Options in Boston, MA

For many people, faith can be a source of strength and motivation. Harnessing this throughout the recovery process can prove pivotal for recovering individuals who already have strong beliefs. Boston Drug Treatment Centers makes it easy to find therapists, group classes, and rehab programs that incorporate one’s beliefs. Call us at (857) 577-8193 to discuss your recovery options.

Resources:

  1. Marsiglia, F. F., Kulis, S., Nieri, T., & Parsai, M. (2005). God forbid! Substance use among religious and non-religious youth. The American journal of orthopsychiatry75(4), 585–598. https://doi.org/10.1037/0002-9432.75.4.585
  2. Goldfarb, L. M., Galanter, M., McDowell, D., Lifshutz, H., & Dermatis, H. (1996). Medical student and patient attitudes toward religion and spirituality in the recovery processThe American journal of drug and alcohol abuse22(4), 549-561.
  3. Lovett, K. L., & Weisz, C. (2021). Religion and recovery among individuals experiencing homelessnessJournal of Religion and Health60(6), 3949-3966.
  4. Grim, B. J., & Grim, M. E. (2019). Belief, Behavior, and Belonging: How Faith is Indispensable in Preventing and Recovering from Substance Abuse. Journal of religion and health58(5), 1713–1750. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-019-00876-w
  5. Jarusiewicz, B. (2000). Spirituality and addiction: Relationship to recovery and relapseAlcoholism Treatment Quarterly18(4), 99-109.
  6. Krentzman A. R. (2017). Gratitude, abstinence, and alcohol use disorders: Report of a preliminary finding. Journal of substance abuse treatment78, 30–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2017.04.013
  7. Jozaghi, E., Asadullah, M., & Dahya, A. (2016). The role of Muslim faith-based programs in transforming the lives of people suffering with mental health and addiction problemsJournal of Substance use21(6), 587-593.