Faith and Addiction: How the Major Religions View Recovery

faith and addiction

Religion is an important matter and in the matters of addiction, recovery, and relapse it is very relevant; as there are more than 350,000 religious congregations in the United States, a total of 95% of Americans have some religious faith, and research has shown that spiritual persons are less likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs.

Studies done on alcohol abuse have shown that 88% found lower alcohol abuse for those with a higher religious involvement. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, studies have shown those who hold the importance of religion are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. One national study showed that among religious adolescents, 9.9% had used marijuana, compared with 21.5% of adolescents whom religion was only a little important.

Religion has been associated with positive drug-related outcomes and most religions explicitly prohibit or discourage substance use, therefore there is a certain resilience and ability to recover from substance addiction in those who practice a religion. This shows that abstinence and addiction are lower for those of religious beliefs and that religion could very well be a vital agent in overcoming addiction.


Christianity presently is the largest religion. In 2010, it was found that there were 2.18 billion Christians and a total 32% of the world’s population is considered to be Christian. Therefore, Christianity is the majority leader of religiously affiliated treatment programs in America. One of the most well-known treatment programs in the world is A.A (Alcoholics Anonymous) which is based on the Bible. Christianity is based on relieving oneself of one’s sins, by confessing and repenting for them. Some verses from the Bible that could be studied, or prayed upon, which might free one from the sins of addiction include:

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
[1 Corinthians 10:13]

“Whoredom, wine, and new wine, which take away the understanding.”
[Hosea 4:11]

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
[Ephesians 5:18-20]


Another example of a major religious faith is Buddhism. Buddhism is a centuries-old Eastern practice that today is still widespread across many countries and cultures, made up of over 360 million people who practice it. In religious rehabs, Buddhism is additionally adapted in recovery for the substance addicted to overcome addiction through meditation and other similar processes.


Another Eastern religion is Hinduism, with billions of followers the world over, it is the third largest religion and is in fact recognized as the oldest known religion. One of the pieces of this religion is so successful that people in all walks of life practice it to the degree that is has become a health and self-improvement fad, yoga.

Hindu techniques are very powerful and address the mind, spirit, body, and emotional state of a person. Hinduism teaches that the entire universe is connected including living life in balance with nature. Hindus have a daily relationship with God but turn to God for help as a last resort, with taking responsibility for self and others as the first intention. Meditation and self-control are other techniques used in the Hindu religion and the health of the whole person, instead of only their addiction habits, are zeroed in upon. All of these methods can be and are used in addiction recovery.


In the Islamic religion, the use of drugs and alcohol is forbidden, addiction is viewed as a sin. The Quran is the Book they turn to for guidance in life and through addiction, the “Six Articles of Faith” summarizes Islamic beliefs about God, angels, prophets, the afterlife, and predestination. The purpose of life is to live in a way pleasing to their God, Allah, and in turn, gain His forgiveness and entrance into Paradise. Here is a verse related to alcohol and addiction:

“Satan only seeketh to breed animosity and spites among you by means of wine and gambling and would keep you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer; will ye not then desist?”
[Sura 5 – Al-Maeda (MADINA): Verse 91, Translation: Eng-Abdul Daryabadi]


Judaism began as early as 2000 BCE, and today has approximately 14 million followers, and 3.5 billion others follow religious beliefs that are directly influenced by Judaism, such as Christianity and Islam. In Judaism, like Islam, they believe that there is only one God.

Huston Smith in The World’s Religions expounds upon the influence of the Jewish religion upon current civilization: “It has been estimated that one-third of our Western civilization bears the marks of its Jewish ancestry.” Sacred texts that serve as a basis for Jewish law and spirituality include the Torah and the Talmud, also the Temple can be turned to for support and strength when overcoming addiction and other spiritual hardships.


One doesn’t even have to have a specific religious belief to be accepted at most religious-based rehabs, some are more devout while others are looser in their religious application. The main aspect is that most major religions view addiction as a problem to be overcome, and recovery not only as possible but as achievable.

Statistics on Addiction Recovery

An estimated 208 million people use illegal drugs. In the month prior to a survey done in 2007 by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the results showed that 8% of the population aged 12 and older, or 19.9 million Americans used illegal drugs. The top 10% of American drinkers, 24 million adults over the age of 18, consume on average 10 drinks per day.

Statistics on addiction recovery rates are hard to find due to the varying degrees of quality for each treatment center and due to the different types of substance abuse. Because drug addiction is such a prevalent problem today, the statistics on its usage and on relapse rates are the focus; as to fix a problem one must first know what the problem is. However, it is necessary to know what percentage of addicts recover from treatment and that varies from rehab to rehab, and as more studies are done on this and as more alternative programs continue to surface, as they are, we will know more on addiction recovery rates.

Some statistics for inpatient treatment plans show that:

  • Out of 73% of addicts who completed treatment, 21% remain sober after 5 years.
  • Out of 51% of addicts who completed residential treatment, 21% remained sober after 5 years.
  • Out of 43% of addicts who completed outpatient drug-free treatment, 18% remained sober after five years.

Addiction recovery is possible. The more alternative addiction recovery programs that continue to pop up, the more religious rehabs become known. This will then increase the number of detox-based rehabs, resulting in greater chances that statistics on addiction recovery will rise.

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