Addiction is a complex disease that affects the brain and the way you process stressors and triggers. It changes the way you think about drugs from a medication or recreation to a need. When you are are in active addiction, the disease is out of your control and, in many ways, you are oppressed by it. Even when you want to stop using, it keeps pulling you back. This experience is talked about in the Bible.

The apostle Paul describes sin in a way that may be very familiar to someone who has been through active addiction. In Romans 7:15, he writes, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

The message of the gospel is that Christ’s death and resurrection pay for our sins when we would otherwise be stuck, powerless to change. Through the redemptive power of Christ, we are pulled out of the oppression of sin. In addiction treatment, the gospel message can have the same redemptive power in the life of someone seeking addiction recovery.

Learn how Christian drug rehab works and how to find a treatment program that meets your specific needs.

How Christian Rehab Works

Christian rehab treatment options follow the same evidence-based therapies and levels of care that other recovery tracks do. However, since treatment must be tailored to individual needs to be effective, Christian rehab employs a Christ-centered approach to treatment. Addiction is a complicated disease and it requires a serious commitment to recovery to overcome. Through different levels of care that are appropriate for your needs, you will progress through various addiction therapies to learn long-term relapse prevention strategies.

The Levels of Care

When you first enter a treatment program you will go through an assessment to determine your appropriate level of care. This will involve an intake process and a session with a therapist to build a personalized program that meets your needs as an individual. The placement process is largely based on a set of criteria developed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. If you are considering a Christian drug treatment center that does not have an intake process that seeks to meet your needs, you may want to pursue treatment somewhere else. There is no one uniform treatment program that works for everyone, and there needs to be a process that connects you to treatment that meets your specific needs.

Medical Detoxification

For many, the first step in addiction treatment is medically managed treatment. This is the highest level of formal addiction treatment and involves 24/7 treatment from medical professionals. Detox is important for anyone who has any pressing medical needs when they enter treatment. Some drugs, especially alcohol and other central nervous system depressants, can even cause dangerous symptoms during withdrawal that can be life-threatening. Medically managed care can also help people with simultaneous injuries or diseases that need treatment whether they are related to their substance use disorder or not.

Medical detox can also address patients with cognitive, psychological, and emotional needs that require immediate treatment. Clinical services on staff at medical detox facilities can help treat pressing needs and help you find the next step in treatment after detox.

Inpatient Services

The next level of care after detox is inpatient services, which include clinically managed high-intensity treatment and low-intensity residential services. This also involves 24/7 medical care but is mostly for monitoring your health to avoid any medical complications. Medical detox typically lasts for about a week but some medical concerns need longer-term monitoring.  Inpatient services are capable of meeting needs associated with both mental and medical health.

Intensive Outpatient Services

In intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) services, you will have access to more than nine hours of clinical services every week. While you live independently, you will continue to have access to various therapies, providing intensive structure and support. IOP may involve a variety of individual and group therapies that will continue to deepen your understanding of your addiction and develop strategies to prevent relapse.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is the lowest level of care in addiction treatment and involves fewer than nine hours of clinical services every week. Through OP treatment, you will continue to build on your foundation of relapse prevention as you prepare for independent life after treatment. OP is an important step in readying yourself for independent life and helps to ease you into aftercare services.

Recovery centers across the country use the principles of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that were pioneered in the 1930s. The 12-step model has proven to be a valuable tool in addiction treatment and it has been used in a variety of settings without much alteration. The 12-step model seeks to provide spiritual healing in addiction recovery, so it’s a helpful supplement to traditional evidence-based therapies that focus on medical and psychological healing. Twelve-step programs have shown to help people maintain sobriety, especially after treatment is completed. Connecting with a 12-step community in treatment is a good way to forge relationships that can keep you accountable in long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

In the traditional 12-step model acknowledges a nondescript God and a “higher power.” But many people seeking a Christ-centered approach to treatment find the traditional 12 steps too vague in its approach to spirituality. Organizations like Celebrate Recovery have adapted the existing 12-step model to acknowledge the God of the scriptures and the message of the gospel.

The wording of each of the 12 steps is very similar to the original 12-steps of AA and the biggest change involves adapting the wording to include all addiction rather than just alcohol. However, each of the steps is backed up by a verse from scripture that gives each goal a biblical context. For instance, the first step, “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable,” is backed up by the verse from Romans 7:18, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

This depicts the parallel between a person in sin and a person in active addiction. However, it is not to say that addiction is a moral failing, though it can lead people to do things (like lying to and stealing from friends and family) they never thought they were capable of. Rather, both addiction and sin are traps that continuously pull you back into them and oppress you. Both require help from beyond your own willpower to escape, which is seen in the second step, which says, “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” The verse that supports this step is from Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

“The message of the Bible is about what Christ did to redeem His people who were stuck under the oppression of sin. The application to overcoming addiction is clear. The redemptive power of Christ and the message of the gospel can be a valuable part of your recovery.”

Do You Need Christian Drug Rehab?

Identifying a need for treatment depends on several of factors. Substance use disorders come in a variety of different stages and it’s important to recognize the signs, especially if you have been using illicit or prescription drugs. The first sign that you might be developing a problem with a chemical substance is tolerance. When you use a psychoactive substance, you introduce chemicals to your brain that disrupt and alter your nervous system’s messaging process. After long-term or heavy use of addictive substances, your brain will start to get used to the effects of the drug and might even counteract them. When you experience this, you will feel like you need more of the substance to achieve the same desired effects.

A chemical dependence develops when you start needing the drug to feel “normal,” rather than for recreation. If you stop using the drug during dependence, you will start to experience withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms can vary from substance to substance but they can be anything from uncomfortable to life-threatening.

Dependence becomes an addiction when you have experienced negative consequences of drinking or drug use and you still can’t seem to quit. If you have a desire to stop using but you keep getting pulled back into drug use, you may have reached the point of addiction. Both dependence and addiction are serious substance use disorders that need help to overcome.

What Should You Look For in Christian Rehab?

If you are looking for a Christian treatment program that will work for you and your needs, it’s important to know that not all addiction treatment programs are equally effective.

There are several things to consider when you are seeking recovery, but the first factor you should think about is its efficacy.

Man surrounded by sunlight and doves

Your success in addiction treatment and afterward will largely depend on your commitment to recovery; however, it’s important to attend a treatment center that will give you the tools you need to achieve and maintain sobriety.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are a few specific principles that make a treatment program effective.

In order to choose a Christian rehab center that will give you the help you need to make it to lasting recovery, you should consider the following important factors in drug and alcohol addiction treatment:

What is the addiction philosophy?

Until the 20th century, most people looked at addiction as a moral failing or a bad habit that could be broken through force of will. Today we understand it as a chronic disease that affects the brain which makes it extremely difficult to overcome on your own. Though a lot of heartache, regrettable behaviors, and even legal issues can come out of addiction, it’s important to treat chronic substance use disorders as a disease.

Is treatment personalized?

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan and it’s shown to be ineffective to try to fit individuals into a treatment modality rather than fitting treatment to a person. Addiction is extremely complex and it can come with or be caused by a plethora of underlying issues. For treatment to be effective, it needs to address problems on an individual basis. You should be instrumental in the creation of your own treatment plan.

Are multiple needs addressed?

Addiction also affects multiple areas of your life including your health, social life, family, and mental health. Addiction treatment can’t exclusively treat addiction without addressing other issues. In some cases, secondary issues may be more crucial to recovery than they appear. For instance, co-occurring disorders like depression can feed into a SUD and if the depression isn’t addressed it will inevitably lead to relapse. Addiction treatment should be dealing with medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.

Are evidence-based therapies used?

There are a number of great alternative therapies in the addiction treatment industry, many of which have not yet been supported by scientific study. While these therapies may be beneficial to some, they should not make up the foundation of your treatment. Evidence-based therapies like behavioral therapies should make up the majority of your treatment strategy. Behavioral therapies are often recommended because they are able to address multiple behavioral, cognitive, and psychological issues and they have been proven to be effective in studies.

How long does treatment last?

Treatment needs to last for an adequate amount of time to be effective. Even if you are able to breeze through your treatment plan, if you aren’t in treatment for enough time, you are more likely to relapse. Studies show that the most effective amount of time in treatment is at least 90 days. Like other aspects of addiction treatment, the length of time you send in a program will largely depend on your specific needs, but three months is generally the best option.

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