“What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.” – Alice Miller
I try not to over think religion. I believe what I believe and I let others do their own thing as long as they treat me with the same common courtesy.
I often wonder how religion affects us all. Like, you know, our mentality. Are Christian men better husbands than Atheists? Do Muslim mothers love their kids more than Hindu mothers?
While I don't think any one group does or doesn't do something more or less than any other group, it's interesting to think about and I can't help myself.
Lately, I've been wondering if my soon to be ex husband would have been better to me and my oldest son and a better dad to his own child if he had been more spiritual and lived a better Christian life. Would booze and drugs have as strong of a hold on him? I decided to do some research to see if I could make heads or tails of any of this.
And this is what I found out.
According to my research, losing faith, even if it's just a small amount, has a similar feeling to an addict no longer getting their drug of choice.
I know this feeling. Watching my husband succumb to his desires that meant more to him than me and has family, I went from being discouraged to feeling helpless. For a while, I felt like God and my faith had let me down.
Instead, I should have looked at this problem as a wake-up call. I have two beautiful sons. I also have an incredibly supportive family and some great friends who've always been there when I needed them.
And ya know what? I took them for granted. When things got bad, I didn't look for help. I just felt sad. Got depressed, and allowed the downward spiral to continue.
Looking back, I think God wanted me to realize how much love is in my life. He knows I like to do things the hard way so he let that happen. Now I know. As the dust settled, my faith slowly came back.
I'm happy it did. I learned a lot about life, love, myself, and the difference between people loving you and people loving pieces of you.
How Can Religion Help Addicts?
For a long time, religion, and spirituality in general, have not played a very big role in recovery. No one really thought it was worth a look.
However, times change. Holistic recovery is becoming more and more popular, with treatment centers offering meditation and yoga as therapies for addicts. As it turns out, people tapping into their spirituality is helping thousands of people all over the world to get clean and stay that way.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health:
“Adults and teens who considered religion to be very important and who attended religious services weekly or more were far less likely to smoke, drink or use illicit drugs. Individuals who, in addition to receiving treatment, attended spiritually based support programs, such as the 12-step programs Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, were more likely to maintain sobriety. Individuals in successful recovery often showed greater levels of faith and spirituality than did those who had relapsed.”
This could explain why many folks are turning to Christian rehabs . Traditional recovery centers will do the best job they can, but incorporating religion into treatment can supercharge the efforts of everyone involved.
Personally, I've found that everything seems just a bit easier when you believe the big guy upstairs is on your side.
Religion and Support
Many addicts feel like there is nowhere else to turn but the bottom of a bottle or the pointy end of a needle.
There is good reason for this. Addiction can destroy every relationship you've ever had.
When you have no one in your life, you don't have to concern yourself with their feelings. You assume everyone has given up on you and that they no longer care about your well-being.
And yeah, I can see this happening. We all have our own problems, right? Not everyone in your life is going to go to battle with you, especially if the battle is against you and your addiction.
But there are others who are going to love you and try to stick with you to the end. Unfortunately, some of them won't make it.
However, you can rebuild these relationships once you've recovered. You can forge new ones. You can change and become a better person and you should do it for yourself first and everyone else second.
Religion can become an amazing tier on your support hierarchy. You'll have a leader, such as a pastor or preacher, who you can go to for counsel. You will also likely make friends within the congregation.
Lastly, many religious groups have support meetings for recovering addicts as well as survivors of rape and many other horrid things that happen to good people. Meeting and getting to know other people who understand what you're going through and what you've lost along the way can make your path to recovery easier and may even be able to show you how to get back what you've lost.
We live in an age where the worst-case scenario can become reality in an instant. More than ever, we need help from our peers and loved ones and the sad fact is most people aren't getting the support they need on a daily basis, much less when they've hit rock bottom.
No Religion is Perfect
There are addicts that are members of every major religion. It doesn't matter if you're an Atheist, Muslim, Christian, Jew, or a member of any other kind of faith. Addiction does not care who you pray to or how many times you pray. But all of the major religions have something in common: They have a way to help addicts and their loves ones.
Some people say that addiction is not a disease. While I'm not a doctor and I'm not going to sit here and say that it is or isn't a physical disease, it is definitely an illness of the soul and the spirit.
The famous 12-step program has its roots in Christianity and many churches have support groups that still use it to this day. While it's typically used to help alcoholics, the steps can be used for recovery of all sorts.
Wine is a large part of this religion. Some Jews even claim that Jews, in general, do not abuse alcohol. It's hard to tell how this rumor got started. But in the research I've done, it is unfortunately not true.
It has only been in the last few years that this community has opened up and created support groups for addicts that are based around their faith.
This religion is more strict than the above two and members who abuse alcohol and recreational drugs find themselves a disappointment to their community. Abuse and addiction is a stigma. It's not something that is typically discussed.
No one wants to admit their an addict and no one wants to admit they're friends with one or have one as a family member. However, no two Muslim families are the same. Some are more open minded while others send their loved ones away to a place with less temptation so the addict can try to get clean on their own.
I went a little long with this one today. I had a lot to say on the matter and I've been doing a ton of reading on it.
Addiction hit my little family hard and we're still trying to put the pieces back together.
Through it all, I've learned that religion, no matter what your faith, isn't a one day a week activity. It's a lifestyle. Choose your God and then believe and have faith that he/she/or them will see you through and give you the strength to make proper decisions in this life.
No God out there has a one strike and your out kind of policy. They are forgivers. They love. And all they ask for in return is your love. Thanks for reading and to finish up, I'm going to leave you with my favorite quote that I found while doing my research.
“Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.” – Carrie Fisher