Addiction is like any chronic disease, with periods of remission and flare-ups. This means that the path to recovery isn’t linear, and strategies have to change often.
While it takes time, effort, and belief in oneself to break free from any kind of substance abuse, sometimes, belief in a higher power can be an especially valuable tool to use in your recovery process.
If you or a loved one are trying to overcome alcohol abuse and are curious about religious, faith-based, or spiritual alcohol addiction treatment, here’s a helpful introduction to the subject.
Can Being Religious Prevent Alcoholism?
Different religions have vastly different attitudes and levels of tolerance when it comes to alcohol consumption. These attitudes affect the likelihood of developing a drinking habit, as well as the optimal way to approach the topic of addiction once it arises.
A cohort study done on a Mauritian group of individuals who were monitored through a joint health program starting from the age of 3 was set out to prove this theory.
Mauritius has a culturally and ethnically diverse population, where the most prevalent religions are Hinduism, Catholicism, and Islam.
While Hinduism and Catholicism permit drinking, Islam prohibits it completely. Varying degrees of acceptance of alcohol consumption are present within the different societal factions.
It was found that religions that had a clear abstinence rule had a lower percentage of followers who drank alcohol. However, in the section of the populace that didn’t follow the religious mandate, the chances of alcohol use disorders were higher.
This was proposed to mainly be due to the decreased influence of community on the person who rejects religious teachings, as well as the lack of boundaries defined by the religion that could have stopped them from abusing alcohol.
The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality in Seeking Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Religion and spirituality have a unique role in the lives of people who choose to practice them. They fulfill specific desires for transcending the material, establishing order in a chaotic world, and in many cases, belonging to a community of people who believe the same things.
Most religions merge ideas about the world with an emotional response to the presence of a higher power. They also involve a certain set of rules that guide the faithful when making choices led by these beliefs.
Breaking these rules is followed by a sense of guilt and imbalance that can be a powerful motivator for people to change their behavior. In cases of substance abuse, many religious people quit alcohol or drugs because they want to restore the balance their life is lacking.
Spirituality, on the other hand, focuses more on the emotional and mental aspects of belief in the metaphysical, without having written rules. Becoming spiritual, without any religious affiliation, allows the practicing person the chance to look inward for guidance or to glean inspiration from a higher power.
In cases of alcohol or drug addiction, spirituality doesn’t provide as much structure, but it does provide transcendental meaning in the pursuit of sobriety.
The Role of Belief in God in Maintaining a Sober Lifestyle
Although not blatantly faith-based, the success of Alcoholics Anonymous support groups made their “Twelve Steps” synonymous with recovery from alcohol addiction. These steps acknowledge the presence of a higher power outside of oneself, God, who acts independently of one’s will.
Belief in God aims to bring about a spiritual awakening that changes the struggling person’s perception of their condition and the things that are and aren’t in their control. This is best summed up by the Serenity Prayer, which states:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”
God is also present in several of the 12 steps:
- Step 2: “Coming to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
- Step 3: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
- Step 6: “We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
- Step 7: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
- Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
- Step 12: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
How Religious Practice and Spirituality Complement Addiction Recovery Efforts
The message of AA is echoed by 2019 research published in the Springer Journal of Religion and Health. It states how faith in a higher being is the basis of about 73% of addiction recovery programs in the United States. It adds that this prevalence is necessary because it has a good track record of filling in the gaps left by mental health and medication-based addiction treatment.
This is due to several factors:
Religion Reduces Stress
In a study involving 236 participants presented in 2000, people recovering from substance abuse who reported having religious beliefs were said to show better coping skills, greater resistance to stress, more optimism, and lower levels of anxiety than those who didn’t.
However, it’s worth noting that although most participants were practicing Protestant or Catholic Christians, most were more comfortable labeling themselves as spiritual instead of religious.
This could be the result of a desire to distance themselves from the outdated, judgemental stance that some religious organizations used to have about alcohol addiction. It was labeled as a sin or a transgression against oneself, before evidence of its nature as a chronic disease emerged.
Spirituality Creates Optimism
With the current rise in people identifying as religiously unaffiliated in the United States, many are turning to spirituality as an effective replacement for organized religion. Practices like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and repeating affirmations are replacing prayer in its traditional form.
This shift doesn’t diminish the positive effect spirituality has on efforts to recover from alcohol or drug abuse. Instead, most spiritual people experience improved peace of mind, higher levels of acceptance, and a boost in optimism about the future.
Faith Communities Offer Needed Support
Lastly, and most importantly, the role of supportive communities, faith-based or otherwise, in helping people recovering from addiction can’t be overstated. The unconditional love, acceptance, and guidance provided by such groups can be a life-preserver to people struggling to maintain sobriety in the face of adversity.
Prayers and Affirmations for Substance Abuse Recovery
If you are looking for prayers or affirmations that can help you in your journey to stop drinking or stay sober, here are some examples. Feel free to address them to the divine entity of your choice.
Prayer for Alcohol Addiction Recovery
Guide my life with Your presence and Your benevolence. Help me make the right choice even if it is a difficult one and understand that this struggle is worth it. Allow me to bring my broken spirit and ailing body to You so You can heal them and make them whole again.
Give me strength each new day to face the inconveniences with grace and understanding. Bring light to my heart and psyche to accept change.
Open people’s eyes to see the vulnerability of those around them. Grant me patience and calm if someone wrongs or belittles me. Make me accept that it’s not about me.
Allow me to become a vessel of your love and help others like me on their journey to heal from addiction and live a life of light.
Affirmations for Alcohol Addiction Recovery
- I am strong enough to resist temptation.
- I believe in the power of healing.
- I want a better life for myself and I will have it.
- I accept things I cannot change.
- I can change things that are in my control.
- I can defeat alcoholism.
Addiction can take hold of a person’s life and strip it of purpose and direction. Unfortunately, when this spiral begins, it becomes easy to lose faith in oneself and the goodness of people.
Recovering from substance abuse is propelled forward by the spiritual belief in a loving God or higher power that watches over and cares. It also helps to have a community that accepts and supports the struggling person.
If you, or a loved one, are trying to overcome alcohol or drug addiction and would like to broaden your treatment options, book an appointment with Curednation today.