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 is “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.

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