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Is Faith-Based Drug Treatment As Effective as Other Treatments?

  • Many versions of faith-based drug addiction treatment programs are available.
  • Almost every religion offers a drug rehab program of some kind that fits into their beliefs and practices.
  • To find a drug rehab in your religion of choice, you may need to travel depending on where you live and what faith you practice or would like to practice.
  • Faith-based drug rehab programs should offer all the medical care and mental health treatment options that any drug rehab would offer. They are different only because of the focus on one specific spiritual path.
  • Success rates of faith-based drug rehabs are based on the efficacy of the therapy options, the providers on staff, and the dedication of the client, just like every addiction treatment program.
  • Those who are seeking spiritual guidance, along with medical and mental health care, are best suited to a religious drug rehab program.


There is no limit to the style of faith-based drug rehab programs available. Medical detox programs that offer inpatient support, medicated detox on an outpatient basis, outpatient services, intensive outpatient care, and residential treatment within a religious structure are common.

Christian drug rehab services are available all over the country, but for other religions or spiritual paths, it may be necessary to travel to connect with the style of treatment you are seeking.


All religions or faiths offer some method of support for individuals and families who are in crisis due to addiction. There may not always be a professional drug rehab program set up in that religion, however.

If you find that your religion does not offer what you are looking for, then it will be important for you to connect with a religious leader or addiction-focused committee within your faith-based organization that is willing to work with you and then find a secular drug rehab program that will meet your needs.


A drug rehab program that will be effective in the treatment of addiction should provide the kind of evidence-based treatment options that will help you to stop using all substances safely, avoid relapse, and learn new coping mechanisms. When treatment is complete, they should offer you the support you need to make the transition into independent living in sobriety.

A faith-based treatment program should provide this as well. If it does not, it is far better to connect with a drug rehab program that offers the things you need to heal while simultaneously connecting with your religious organization for extra support you can implement on your own.

Faith-based programs that are effective in their provision of addiction treatment services will only be different from other programs in terms of their religious expectations. You may find that, as a client, you are expected to maintain all the rules of the religion while taking part in the program. For example, it may be expected that you:

  •  Dress modestly
  •  Avoid using curse words
  •  Follow certain rules regarding what you eat
  •  Quit smoking
  •  Abstain from romantic involvement outside of marriage

Depending on the expectations of the religion, the rules may vary. It is worth it to take the time to ask some questions before you begin.


Absolutely. Your religious and spiritual path is a choice. It is not something that can be placed on you by someone else.

It is not difficult to connect with your local religious community and speak to someone there about what you can do to improve your connection to your faith as you undergo treatment. At the very least, there may be books and journals you can take with you into your drug treatment program that will help you explore your faith. You always have the option of working directly with your therapist as you take on spiritual challenges and begin to figure out what your religion means for your life and your choices.

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This has been a question that has been asked over and over again with a focus on different religions, methodologies, and populations over the past 15 to 20 years in the research world. It is not an easy question to answer as every individual treatment program is different. The spectrum of efficacy rates can swing widely in both the faith-based drug addiction treatment industry and the general drug rehab world.

One of the challenges in front of faith-based drug addiction treatment programs is that priority is often placed on spiritual rituals or beliefs as well as discipline and structure rather than on other areas that are known to be a critical component of long-term success in recovery like job readiness.

In other areas, such as traditional treatment options and emphasis on therapeutic support for families, faith-based programs are comparable to general drug rehabs.

Hands holding onto each other over a picture of a woman's silhouette near a sunset

One study found that faith-based drug rehab programs are effective in helping to cut down on rates of recidivism. The focus of the research was on young adults in recovery, often recently released from prison or there as part of an offender program. It was found that faith-based drug rehab was an effective way to reduce the number of people who returned to active drug addiction and/or needed to return to treatment.

In general, the studies support the notion that faith-based drug addiction treatment is not inferior to general drug rehab programs as long as the program offers the evidence-based treatments and therapies the individual needs to thrive in recovery. 


For those would like to immerse themselves in a treatment program based on their religious principles and be surrounded by participants who are familiar with their faith, religious drug rehab may be the right choice.

If you feel safe and strong in your religion, appreciate the structure it once gave you and would like to access that during treatment, you may find that you get the opportunity to explore some key concepts in recovery in great depth, including:

It is not easy to be sober and face some of the choices you made during active addiction. At every drug rehab program, you will have the opportunity to discuss the stigma that comes with addiction and the guilt and shame that follows the realization of how your actions impacted others. If you are religious, you will find value in considering how managing guilt plays a role in your faith as well as your recovery.

Forgiving those who caused you trauma and pain, and forgiving yourself for harming others, can be a significant focus in drug addiction treatment. With most religious paths, forgiveness is discussed heavily and can be a helpful viewpoint in recovery.

Resenting those who have harmed you in the past is often the first response of people living in active addiction. In recovery, it is essential to learn how to let go and put those feelings behind you. Resentment and bitterness are addressed in religious faiths, and this perspective can be supportive of your growth.

What will you do after drug rehab? In many cases, the principles you learn during treatment can guide you in determining your purpose in recovery. The guidance of a strong spiritual direction can influence that process and make it easier to determine how to proceed after treatment.

Faith-based addiction recovery programs can be a good option for people who are devoted to their religion or faith. Take time to research the best recovery program that best suits your needs.


(March 2012) Can Faith-Based Correctional Programs Work? An Outcome Evaluation of the Inner Change Freedom Initiative in Minnesota. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. Retrieved April 2019 from

Implementing a Mental Health Ministry Committee in Faith-Based Organizations: The Promoting Emotional Wellness and Spirituality Program. Social Work in Health Care. Retrieved April 2019 from

(October 2015) American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use. Journal of Addiction Medicine. Retrieved April 2019 from

(August 2016) Christian faith and recovery from substance abuse, guilt, and shame. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought. Retrieved April 2019 from

(March 2011) Spirituality and the treatment of substance use disorders: An exploration of forgiveness, resentment and purpose in life. Addiction Research & Theory. Retrieved April 2019 from

(January 2006) Contrasting faith-based and traditional substance abuse treatment programs. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved April 2019 from

(August 2011) An Evidence-Based Assessment of Faith-Based Programs: Do Faith-Based Programs “Work” to Reduce Recidivism? Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. Retrieved April 2019 from




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