Faith-based Recovery

Reviewed Mar 27, 2016

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Summary

  • Addresses all types of addictions, compulsions, habits.
  • Focuses on a higher power to help us manage and deal with all of our problems.
  • Asks people to give up their entire life to a higher being.

Until recently, most Americans believed that education, science, and technology could solve every human problem. This “modern age,” as the philosophers called it, ended with great disillusionment as violence, stress, divorce, addiction, and mental illness skyrocketed.

Now, in the “postmodern age,” a renewed need for faith and spiritual answers to life’s problems is growing and changing the face of recovery—or, as some assert, bringing it back to where it began.

If you’re having trouble recovering from addiction, perhaps a faith-based recovery program can help you. 

History of faith-based recovery

The beginning of what is now called faith-based recovery (FBR) dates back to the great religious awakening in England and the United States in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Ministries such as The Salvation Army reached out to those with alcohol problems, offering food and shelter, and instilling in them hope and salvation through faith in a higher power. The Salvation Army continues its mission today.

In 1906 the Emmanuel Clinic in Boston combined religion, medicine, and psychology in the treatment of nervous and mental disorders and alcohol use disorder. For those with alcohol problems, the clinic used psychological counseling, sober fellowship, and involvement in the faith community as the basis of recovery. 

Alcoholics Anonymous

In the 1930s, a Christian-based program for those with alcohol problems called the Oxford Group gained a strong following in New York and throughout the northeast. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) emerged from this group as a non-religious, but spiritually-based fellowship of recovering persons.

AA has been influential in helping men and women achieve and continue sobriety. The message of AA is simple: You cannot do this alone—you need a higher power and the support of others who are recovering. This fellowship has remained a staple in addiction treatment and medicine. 

Celebrate Recovery

The self-help movement that grew in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s began to fade as stress-related disorders, addictive disease, and general depression increased. In response, churches, which had been marginalized in terms of intervention and recovery by the self-help movement and the professional mental health community, have begun to stress their influence in matters of addiction and mental health.

The most well-known and successful of these programs is Celebrate Recovery. The program began at Saddleback Church in California in the early 1990s as an effort to help people with alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, depression, or other mental illnesses. Today Celebrate Recovery and similar faith-based programs reach hundreds of thousands of people each year in more than 800 churches throughout the United States. 

Beliefs of faith-based recovery

The beliefs of faith-based recovery include: 

  1. Large tent approach—The current trend in FBR programs is to address all types of addictions, compulsions, habits, and hang-ups. The point is that a higher power can help us manage and deal with all of our problems. Recovery is a large tent under which a limitless number of issues can be addressed. 
  2. Surrender and commitment to a higher power—FBR asks people to give up their entire life to a higher being. Recovery cannot happen without this step. In this sense, FBR is more than a treatment option. It is a devotion to a higher being on a level that changes lives, allowing individuals to become the men or women that they were created to be. 
  3. Getting into the solution—Believing in the higher power of forgiveness and not wallowing in the past or reliving painful memories over again is essential in FBR. The answer requires participants to seek forgiveness and begin making wise choices. 
  4. Personal responsibility—Taking ownership of one’s problems is necessary in FBR. Instead of blaming others or bad situations, FBR helps people accept their poor choices. It helps them understand that people cannot control all that happens to them. But they can control how they respond, admit their faults and allow the healing power of a higher being into their mind, choices, and emotions. 
  5. Small group support and accountability—FBR stresses that spiritual growth thrives in structured small group interaction and regular fellowship where a caring community struggles, prays, and succeeds together. 
  6. Lay driven—FBR programs are organized and lead by non-professionals and by those in recovery. Because they are church-based, those who find recovery often begin attending services at the host church and often volunteer to lead new groups as part of their recovery and personal mission. 

For centuries, believers from almost every religious tradition have called on a higher power for help, direction, and healing. In this postmodern age of technology and medical miracles it’s easy to sweep aside the power of faith in the lives of people. FBR is not a substitute for modern medicine but rather a reminder of its limitations. 

By Drew Edwards, EdD
Source: White. W., Whithers, D. (2005) Faith-based Recovery: Its Historical Roots, Counselor, The Magazine for Addiction Professionals, 6(5):58-62; Tangenberg, K. (2005) Twelve-step Programs and Faith-based Recovery: Research Controversies, Provider Perspectives, and Practice Implications. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, Volume: 2.

Summary

  • Addresses all types of addictions, compulsions, habits.
  • Focuses on a higher power to help us manage and deal with all of our problems.
  • Asks people to give up their entire life to a higher being.

Until recently, most Americans believed that education, science, and technology could solve every human problem. This “modern age,” as the philosophers called it, ended with great disillusionment as violence, stress, divorce, addiction, and mental illness skyrocketed.

Now, in the “postmodern age,” a renewed need for faith and spiritual answers to life’s problems is growing and changing the face of recovery—or, as some assert, bringing it back to where it began.

If you’re having trouble recovering from addiction, perhaps a faith-based recovery program can help you. 

History of faith-based recovery

The beginning of what is now called faith-based recovery (FBR) dates back to the great religious awakening in England and the United States in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Ministries such as The Salvation Army reached out to those with alcohol problems, offering food and shelter, and instilling in them hope and salvation through faith in a higher power. The Salvation Army continues its mission today.

In 1906 the Emmanuel Clinic in Boston combined religion, medicine, and psychology in the treatment of nervous and mental disorders and alcohol use disorder. For those with alcohol problems, the clinic used psychological counseling, sober fellowship, and involvement in the faith community as the basis of recovery. 

Alcoholics Anonymous

In the 1930s, a Christian-based program for those with alcohol problems called the Oxford Group gained a strong following in New York and throughout the northeast. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) emerged from this group as a non-religious, but spiritually-based fellowship of recovering persons.

AA has been influential in helping men and women achieve and continue sobriety. The message of AA is simple: You cannot do this alone—you need a higher power and the support of others who are recovering. This fellowship has remained a staple in addiction treatment and medicine. 

Celebrate Recovery

The self-help movement that grew in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s began to fade as stress-related disorders, addictive disease, and general depression increased. In response, churches, which had been marginalized in terms of intervention and recovery by the self-help movement and the professional mental health community, have begun to stress their influence in matters of addiction and mental health.

The most well-known and successful of these programs is Celebrate Recovery. The program began at Saddleback Church in California in the early 1990s as an effort to help people with alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, depression, or other mental illnesses. Today Celebrate Recovery and similar faith-based programs reach hundreds of thousands of people each year in more than 800 churches throughout the United States. 

Beliefs of faith-based recovery

The beliefs of faith-based recovery include: 

  1. Large tent approach—The current trend in FBR programs is to address all types of addictions, compulsions, habits, and hang-ups. The point is that a higher power can help us manage and deal with all of our problems. Recovery is a large tent under which a limitless number of issues can be addressed. 
  2. Surrender and commitment to a higher power—FBR asks people to give up their entire life to a higher being. Recovery cannot happen without this step. In this sense, FBR is more than a treatment option. It is a devotion to a higher being on a level that changes lives, allowing individuals to become the men or women that they were created to be. 
  3. Getting into the solution—Believing in the higher power of forgiveness and not wallowing in the past or reliving painful memories over again is essential in FBR. The answer requires participants to seek forgiveness and begin making wise choices. 
  4. Personal responsibility—Taking ownership of one’s problems is necessary in FBR. Instead of blaming others or bad situations, FBR helps people accept their poor choices. It helps them understand that people cannot control all that happens to them. But they can control how they respond, admit their faults and allow the healing power of a higher being into their mind, choices, and emotions. 
  5. Small group support and accountability—FBR stresses that spiritual growth thrives in structured small group interaction and regular fellowship where a caring community struggles, prays, and succeeds together. 
  6. Lay driven—FBR programs are organized and lead by non-professionals and by those in recovery. Because they are church-based, those who find recovery often begin attending services at the host church and often volunteer to lead new groups as part of their recovery and personal mission. 

For centuries, believers from almost every religious tradition have called on a higher power for help, direction, and healing. In this postmodern age of technology and medical miracles it’s easy to sweep aside the power of faith in the lives of people. FBR is not a substitute for modern medicine but rather a reminder of its limitations. 

By Drew Edwards, EdD
Source: White. W., Whithers, D. (2005) Faith-based Recovery: Its Historical Roots, Counselor, The Magazine for Addiction Professionals, 6(5):58-62; Tangenberg, K. (2005) Twelve-step Programs and Faith-based Recovery: Research Controversies, Provider Perspectives, and Practice Implications. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, Volume: 2.

Summary

  • Addresses all types of addictions, compulsions, habits.
  • Focuses on a higher power to help us manage and deal with all of our problems.
  • Asks people to give up their entire life to a higher being.

Until recently, most Americans believed that education, science, and technology could solve every human problem. This “modern age,” as the philosophers called it, ended with great disillusionment as violence, stress, divorce, addiction, and mental illness skyrocketed.

Now, in the “postmodern age,” a renewed need for faith and spiritual answers to life’s problems is growing and changing the face of recovery—or, as some assert, bringing it back to where it began.

If you’re having trouble recovering from addiction, perhaps a faith-based recovery program can help you. 

History of faith-based recovery

The beginning of what is now called faith-based recovery (FBR) dates back to the great religious awakening in England and the United States in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Ministries such as The Salvation Army reached out to those with alcohol problems, offering food and shelter, and instilling in them hope and salvation through faith in a higher power. The Salvation Army continues its mission today.

In 1906 the Emmanuel Clinic in Boston combined religion, medicine, and psychology in the treatment of nervous and mental disorders and alcohol use disorder. For those with alcohol problems, the clinic used psychological counseling, sober fellowship, and involvement in the faith community as the basis of recovery. 

Alcoholics Anonymous

In the 1930s, a Christian-based program for those with alcohol problems called the Oxford Group gained a strong following in New York and throughout the northeast. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) emerged from this group as a non-religious, but spiritually-based fellowship of recovering persons.

AA has been influential in helping men and women achieve and continue sobriety. The message of AA is simple: You cannot do this alone—you need a higher power and the support of others who are recovering. This fellowship has remained a staple in addiction treatment and medicine. 

Celebrate Recovery

The self-help movement that grew in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s began to fade as stress-related disorders, addictive disease, and general depression increased. In response, churches, which had been marginalized in terms of intervention and recovery by the self-help movement and the professional mental health community, have begun to stress their influence in matters of addiction and mental health.

The most well-known and successful of these programs is Celebrate Recovery. The program began at Saddleback Church in California in the early 1990s as an effort to help people with alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, depression, or other mental illnesses. Today Celebrate Recovery and similar faith-based programs reach hundreds of thousands of people each year in more than 800 churches throughout the United States. 

Beliefs of faith-based recovery

The beliefs of faith-based recovery include: 

  1. Large tent approach—The current trend in FBR programs is to address all types of addictions, compulsions, habits, and hang-ups. The point is that a higher power can help us manage and deal with all of our problems. Recovery is a large tent under which a limitless number of issues can be addressed. 
  2. Surrender and commitment to a higher power—FBR asks people to give up their entire life to a higher being. Recovery cannot happen without this step. In this sense, FBR is more than a treatment option. It is a devotion to a higher being on a level that changes lives, allowing individuals to become the men or women that they were created to be. 
  3. Getting into the solution—Believing in the higher power of forgiveness and not wallowing in the past or reliving painful memories over again is essential in FBR. The answer requires participants to seek forgiveness and begin making wise choices. 
  4. Personal responsibility—Taking ownership of one’s problems is necessary in FBR. Instead of blaming others or bad situations, FBR helps people accept their poor choices. It helps them understand that people cannot control all that happens to them. But they can control how they respond, admit their faults and allow the healing power of a higher being into their mind, choices, and emotions. 
  5. Small group support and accountability—FBR stresses that spiritual growth thrives in structured small group interaction and regular fellowship where a caring community struggles, prays, and succeeds together. 
  6. Lay driven—FBR programs are organized and lead by non-professionals and by those in recovery. Because they are church-based, those who find recovery often begin attending services at the host church and often volunteer to lead new groups as part of their recovery and personal mission. 

For centuries, believers from almost every religious tradition have called on a higher power for help, direction, and healing. In this postmodern age of technology and medical miracles it’s easy to sweep aside the power of faith in the lives of people. FBR is not a substitute for modern medicine but rather a reminder of its limitations. 

By Drew Edwards, EdD
Source: White. W., Whithers, D. (2005) Faith-based Recovery: Its Historical Roots, Counselor, The Magazine for Addiction Professionals, 6(5):58-62; Tangenberg, K. (2005) Twelve-step Programs and Faith-based Recovery: Research Controversies, Provider Perspectives, and Practice Implications. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, Volume: 2.

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