Why Church Alone isnt The Best Solution For Drug Addiction

People struggling with substance abuse need intensive, residential treatment by healthcare professionals. This is why church alone isn’t the best solution for drug addiction. Treatment for addiction to alcohol or drugs has been making progress in recent years, and research is focusing on the needs of the individual rather than a “one size fits all” approach. New approaches to substance abuse treatment are producing more effective results.

Why Churches Aren’t The Sole Solution

One of the most significant issues in treating substance abuse is the belief that prayer and Bible study alone can heal mental illness. The groups that fall into this category are one-third of all Americans and more than half of other Christian denominations, including:

  • Born-Again Christian
  • Evangelicals
  • Fundamentalists

The church is often the first source people go to for assistance when they’re dealing with:

  • Illness
  • Death in their family
  • Job loss

Clergy and parishioners can provide comfort, support, and financial assistance during difficult times, but they don’t have the qualifications to handle drug or alcohol addiction problems. A stigma surrounds addiction to alcohol or drugs, and many fundamentalist Christians won’t seek treatment for this reason. Church members are a community that can support each other. However, the church can’t effectively help anyone with addiction without the proper mindset and the tools to help them. Recent statistics indicate:

  • Most pastors don’t speak to congregations about addiction
  • One-fourth of pastors won’t offer help because it’s time-consuming
  • A small percentage of churches have plans to assist families
  • Only 14 percent of churches have counselors on-staff

One of the issues is that most pastors don’t recognize addiction as a physical problem. Parishioners can’t get the help they need until pastors acknowledge the need for medical intervention. Another issue with Christians seeking medical help for addiction is that some secular therapists are dismissive about a patient’s faith which makes some Christians hesitant to seek help. Many professionals believe there’s a need to integrate the Christian faith and psychology. To provide the most comprehensive care for their patients, professionals should understand these aspects of mental illness:

  • Biological
  • Psychological
  • Social

Many secular healthcare professionals, including psychologists, are beginning to understand that spirituality is essential to many of their patients. However, some don’t realize the impact of their faith and how it affects their lives. Christian psychologists should recognize the need for secular intervention when it’s needed. Faith communities can adopt a mindset to help:

  • Acknowledge mental illness is an issue they must address
  • Churches should be safe places for those that struggle
  • People of faith can’t fear medical or mental health treatment
  • Church communities and leaders should help not shame people

With a positive mindset, knowledge of the issues and resources, church leaders have an opportunity to help people turn their lives around. Effective treatment for drug and alcohol addiction can incorporate different components and take a variety of forms that may include:

  • Alcohol or drug detox
  • Co-occurring treatment for drug and alcohol abuse
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Patient Hospitalization Programs
  • Residential treatment
  • Sober Living Programs
  • Step-Down Programs
  • Aftercare

What many healthcare professionals are advocating are residential programs and more intensive outpatient treatment programs. Both types of programs are valuable treatment options and can be the key to success and living a sober life. When detox must be managed medically, residential treatment may be the only option. Monitoring by medical professionals is necessary to safely remove the substance from the patient with less risk and discomfort. In many cases, residential treatment is the preference, but family and work obligations may not make it possible. Flexible outpatient programs close to home may be the solution. Professionals may recommend integrated treatment for patients suffering from alcohol or drug addictions and other co-occurrent disorders that may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Trauma

More than 10 million Americans struggle with co-occurrent drug or alcohol addiction and mental health disorders each year. When integrated treatment is the option, mental health professionals can address both issues at the same time. If you or a family member is struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues, we can help. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at 833-364-0736.