Modalities of meditation, reflection and mindfulness are woven into the fabric of many addiction treatment programs. For individuals who become powerless against their substance problems, faith-based rehab may give them a source of strength.

What Is Faith-Based Drug Rehab?

Some treatment facilities approach addiction recovery through the lens of spirituality. This treatment philosophy views addiction as a deep-seated attempt to compensate for some sort of internal emptiness. By helping a person in recovery find inner strength through the treatment process, faith-based rehab facilities hope to fortify their path to sobriety.

Many drug rehab programs will allow time for clients to do several things:

  • Meditation – Certain meditation modalities help calm nerves and strengthen intent before engaging in a treatment program — by understanding the gravity of their disease and the freedom recovery would bring
  • Reflection – Over the course of their treatment program, participants are encouraged to reflect and take inventory of the things they’ve learned, milestones they’ve reached and habits they’ve broken
  • Mindfulness – At the onset of a new day or a new program, individuals are encouraged to set achievable goals, remain in a state of calm and think positively about what new challenges lie ahead in recovery

Opinions surrounding faith-based addiction recovery differ widely depending on who you ask. But according to a 2001 study titled “So Help Me God,” adults and teens who attended religious services weekly were far less likely to drink, smoke or experiment with illicit drugs. Additionally, a 2013 study by the University of Pennsylvania showed that individuals with pre-existing spiritual faith respond better to faith-based rehab — especially minorities.

The Importance of Spirituality in Recovery

Addiction is often rooted in something deeper than what ostensibly may appear to be a simple relationship to drugs or alcohol. Rough childhoods, broken homes, co-occurring mental disorders and pressure to “fit in” during adolescence all can dramatically impact a person’s development and whether or not they turn to drugs as a way to cope. However, research shows that recovering patients with higher levels of spirituality exhibit positive qualities such as increased optimism, lower anxiety and higher resilience to stress.

Faith-Based Recovery Programs

In some cases, in addition to traditional rehab programs, spiritual principles may reorient your recovery around personalized goals and milestones. If you graduate from a traditional rehab program, faith-based aftercare optionscould be a great way to stay proactive in your sobriety and meet others dealing with similar problems. Support groups— whether spiritual or secular (or spiritually neutral) — are usually encouraged as a supplement to traditional rehab and maintain continuing support. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also recognizes more than 800 faith-based community initiatives, or FBCIs, demonstrating the effectiveness of these types of programs.

Alcoholics Anonymous

The most well-known community support group, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), was founded on strong religious principles and continues to promote faith-based healing to its 2 million members around the world. A co-founder of this group, a man named Bill W., strongly believed that those who develop a substance abuse problem are “spiritually sick” in addition to being physically and mentally unwell.

The handbook of AA, also known as the Big Book or the AA Bible, references a “Higher Power” more than 300 times. The original “12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous” ask that members of the group rely on this faith to restore their sanity and help remove their shortcomings.

In the last century, a number of 12-step groups have followed in the footsteps of AA. Though the wording has evolved over the years —an aim to make all newcomers feel welcome — the underlying ideas remain intact across many of these groups. You may join AA or a similar group regardless of your personal beliefs. Along the way, you may be introduced to the idea that prayer and fellowship could provide benefit in the long run.

Is Faith-Based Treatment Right For You?

No two recovery stories are the same. It’s important to have your mental health properly screened in the event of a substance problem, and follow the doctor’s recommendations regarding treatment. But if you and your family believe that spiritual principles could benefit your recovery, you can easily find treatment programs that implement these principles alongside traditional medicine.

At The Recovery Village, we offer resources to help you understand how drugs and alcohol affect your life. If you have any questions about the rehab process, our addiction specialists are here to help. Call today and find out how rehab can help you heal.


Pardini, DA, TG Plante, A. Sherman, and JE Stump. “Religious Faith and Spirituality in Subs[…]tal Health Benefits.” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. December  19, 2000. Accessed September 5, 2019.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “About Faith-based and Community Initiatives.” April 23, 2018. Accessed September 5, 2019.

Alcoholics Anonymous. “The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.” Service Material from the General Service Office, Revised August 2016, Accessed September 5, 2019.

Hendrickson, Marguerite E. “Incorporating Clients’ Underlying Reli[…]or Persons of Color.” University of Pennsylvania ScholarlyCommons. May 13, 2013. Accessed September 5, 2019.

Center on Addiction. “So Help Me God: Substance Abuse, Religion and Spirituality.” November 2001. Accessed September 5, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.