As choices for inpatient addiction treatment abound, faith-based programs targeting every major religion are now growing in availability. If you’re thinking about entering a faith-based rehab center, here are five reminders before checking in.
1. Recognize that a faith-based rehab center is not a church, temple or mosque.
Faith-based rehabilitation centers vary significantly on how their programs integrate faith. For some programs, faith is a part of everything they do and it is important for patients to adhere to the tenets of the faith before coming to the program. Other programs are open to patients with a wide range of spiritual traditions but provide services either from a faith-based position or through a faith community's funding. As a result, staff members may also vary in their commitment to the faith. They may or may not have formal training in the faith tradition, be able to answer deep theological questions or take a position on controversial topics of religion.
Also be aware that very few will operate on donations only. Most faith-based facilities have the same costs as other facilities so expect prices to be similar as well.
2. Know what you believe.
The time you spend in rehabilitation can be very special and confusing at the same time. There may be changes in family relationships, a job loss or some form of legal involvement just before placement. It can be a very trying time in life which may fuel a spiritual crisis or awakening for you and others in rehabilitation. This is why it is very common for patients to discuss spiritual issues. If you are confused about your own beliefs, however, attempting to increase your understanding alongside others who are also struggling with the same issues can be overwhelming.
When determining a faith-based facility, having a firm spiritual foundation can be important. For example, a theologically conservative Christian may struggle at a theologically liberal Christian facility where yoga and silent meditation are part of the daily programming. Be aware that there are a wide range of beliefs within every faith tradition and some will not match your own.
3. Do not over-spiritualize recovery.
Spirituality can be a very important part of recovery--just look at the impact it has in the 12 steps. However, spirituality is not all there is to it either. If it is, one prayer, mantra or act of spiritual discipline would cure addiction and faith communities would bring recovery to masses of people instantaneously. Instead, recovery also takes some hard work. If someone prayed for money to pay a light bill, received the cash unexpectedly, credited their prayer for the miracle and then put their money under a mattress, the lights would still go out. In the same way, you have to be prepared to engage in more than just spiritual disciplines while in rehabilitation.
4. Be aware of the center’s stance on medication.
There are a variety of medications that can assist with the process of withdrawal for certain drugs or emotional problems that may have led to substance abuse. With that said, there are many faith traditions that consider the use of such medications as contradictory to expressing faith. If you are open to using medication to assist you in your recovery journey, be certain to fully understand the center's position on the subject before entering.
5. Understand the center's view of addiction.
Understanding the center's viewpoint of addiction is an important consideration for any rehabilitation center – whether it is faith-based or not. Remember that different rehabilitation centers will have different viewpoints about the origin of addiction. For example, the common disease model of addiction, which focuses on the physical changes in the brain when one becomes addicted, is not accepted by all. There are many people of faith who contend that addiction is an outcome of a lack of surrender to God, self-control or adherence to certain spiritual principles. Generally, a facility's view can be discovered by simply asking, “What does the facility teach is the root cause of addiction?”
Deciding to enter treatment is a big decision. For people of faith, there are many options available to help incorporate spiritual beliefs into their treatment. By being well-informed before treatment begins, those on the road to recovery can make wise choices that can change their lives.