Spirituality can have a large influence on addiction, its treatment, and whether patients end up seeking help.
Substance abuse can happen to anyone at any time, whether they have religious leanings or not. At times of great stress or difficulty, many people turn to that spiritual side in order to combat their issues. Religion can work on both sides of this equation and in some cases can make addiction worse.
The three main religions by sheer follower numbers are Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. These three religions have millions of followers all over the world but the ways in which they deal with addiction are entirely different. For a spiritual person within any of these religions, they can offer comfort and motivation or potentially hinder their progress.
Probably the most famous spirituality-based way to battle addiction is the 12 steps program used by Christians. This is used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and brings forth the idea that putting your life in God’s hands will help to rescue you from addiction. This has proven to be controversial though, as it can be seen to hinder more people than it helps.
AA isn’t a strictly religious organization, so some non-religious attendees feel like it forces a Christian agenda. While attempting to leave addiction behind, a battle against religious ideology can prove a bridge too far for some addicts. They can feel this sense of shame or seclusion puts them outside of the group and isolates them from others in the group. If this is the case, then the addict is less likely to connect and interact with their sponsor, which can lead to disastrous results.
For those of the Jewish faith, it can be difficult to even admit an addiction to alcohol. Many older members of this community prefer to deny that there is a problem within their faith towards substance abuse. This community can often be closed to the outside world, leaving those within it bound to battle these demons alone.
Some Jewish followers find it easier to mask their detoxing process by going to out-of-town addiction rehabilitation centres, like www.luxurybeachrehab.com. That way, their family is convinced that they are on holiday, when actually, they are going through rehab. Within the younger portion of this religion, this isn’t quite as rampant but talking to an older relative about addiction can prove problematic.
The 12-step program can also be used by those of the Jewish faith without too much tweaking. There are some similarities between Jewish and Christian teachings, so some of the steps apply to both. Putting the individual’s fate into the wheelhouse of a deity is something that can be applied to many religions, even those that are agnostic.
Finally, we come to Islam, arguably the strictest of the three religions when it comes to substance abuse. Some feel that the zero tolerance policy of the religion that applies to alcohol, drugs, or even less harmful substances, can drive some to bury their addiction. What may start as an act of defiance against the community can become a serious problem for those not equipped to recognize the signs of addiction.
As it’s forbidden to even drink alcohol in moderation, many of the members of this religion don’t know what addiction looks like. This can lead to a spiral of abuse, as the signs cannot be seen until it is too late. On the other hand, abstinence may help prevent addiction; there is an argument that non-smoking parents are less likely to influence their children towards smoking themselves.
For those within the Islamic community, those with an addiction can feel alienated from others in their faith. This negative feedback loop leads to further substance abuse and issues for the individual. Those that confess their issues to a spiritual leader can risk being shamed or even excluded – which can prove detrimental to the rest of their recovery.
Within Islam, some choose to send their wards with addictions back to their homeland. Many Islamic countries are entirely dry, with serious consequences for those that violate this law. This can be seen as a super strict way to detox, but those dealing with substance abuse on this level must be careful. Detoxing from substances, even alcohol, can prove fatal if done away from medical supervision.
Spirituality can play a big role in the lives of those that are religious or come from a religious background. With substance abuse at an all-time high within most communities, the way that we deal with addiction is clearly no longer working. Spirituality can help or hinder this and those with an addiction need all the assistance they can get.
Written By: Sarah Durrant [Sponsored Post]