Treat Drug and Alcohol Abuse with Church

Road to recovery 300x175 - Treat Drug and Alcohol Abuse with ChurchTwo recent studies confirm what many previous studies have found: praying in the pews helps reduce alcohol and drug abuse.

Researchers from Columbia University and other academic institutions analyzed the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III, covering more than 36,000 people. Included in the survey were questions about drug and alcohol use, as well as how often one attends religious services. Those attending at least once a week were anywhere from 40 percent to 70 percent less likely to abuse alcohol, marijuana, and/or tobacco. Apparently the preferred terminology these days are “alcohol use disorder”, “cannabis use disorder”, and “tobacco use disorder.” And unfortunately, these use disorders likely will only get worse. “Given the decline in religious belief and practice in the U.S.,” states Crossroads (the newsletter of the Duke University Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health), “this may have public health implications for the future prevalence of SUDs (substance use disorders) and their consequences in this country.” Doctors and other treatment professionals should be open to the faith factor. The investigators of the study write that their results “may inform religious leaders and clinicians about the value of utilizing religious social support structures in the prevention and treatment of substance use and SUD.”

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, an academic researcher compared the effectiveness of a faith-based substance abuse treatment program versus a secular treatment program. In the faith-based program, the participant “confesses his or her sins and accepts Jesus Christ as a personal savior and then commits to the Christian faith through the process of sanctification by connecting with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.” Sure enough, six months after the programs wrapped up, participants in the God-centered one had better outcomes overall. The investigator’s comments echoed those of the Columbia study: “Service practitioners and researchers should note the importance of dynamic and developing nature of religiosity in relation to the maintenance of abstinence after treatment is completed.” Good advice indeed.

Covid Pain and Suffering Boosted Faith

covid and faith 300x200 - Covid Pain and Suffering Boosted Faith

So many people deny the existence of God because they think a loving God would never allow pain and suffering in the world. First of all, physical pain serves a medically beneficial need. Without it, your health would go to pot. Think of the times you twisted your ankle, cut your finger, or fractured your arm. You experienced pain. Would you have preferred that there was no pain? Were that the case, you wouldn’t have kept your weight off your ankle or put a Band-Aid on your finger, and may not have even noticed the fracture. That would have been bad for your injuries. The pain incentivized you to treat them. Pain is simply a means of communication – your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and needs to be fixed. God set it up that way on purpose. He’s not a cruel God for doing so. It’s for your own good.

God also allows pain because it prompts people to turn toward Him. Most of those rejecting God because of all the pain and suffering in the world probably haven’t experienced much of that pain and suffering themselves. Maybe if they dug a little deeper they would find that in many if not most cases, the actual victims turn toward God as a result of their misfortune. That’s one reason why God allows bad things to happen.

September 11, 2001 was a prime example. Churches were filled to capacity after those terrorist attacks. Another example is Covid. A Pew poll showed that a quarter of Americans’ faith grew stronger during the pandemic. It weakened among only 2 percent of them. The same thing happened elsewhere. In Poland, one-fifth of survey respondents said they prayed and worshiped more often compared to before the pandemic. And among those who previously practiced their faith several times a week, 61 percent did so even more during Covid. Crossroads, the newsletter of the Duke University Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, commented that this “does help to support the claim that religiosity increases during times of stress.”

In atheists’ and agnostics’ worldview, shouldn’t the Covid pandemic have resulted in less faith and prayer, based on the erroneous reasoning that its hardships should prompt a person to conclude there must be no God? They’d best revise their thinking.

 

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