Does faith play a role in healing from addiction? Unequivocally, yes. Some people do find ways to get over their addictions without faith, but it seems to be rare. Generally those who quit using have placed their faith in something they believe gives them purpose. Very often, this is God. When life has come to the point where it feels as though there is no point without a high, a sober existence seems boring and unpredictable. It is also usually miserable to become sober. This is where faith is very important.
A person needs a reason to get sober. If they can come to believe something bigger than themselves exists, and created them on purpose, sometimes that is reason enough. The addict who is just trying to stop using has to have hope that life will be more meaningful on the other side. This is hard to believe until faith enters the picture. It really helps when the addict comes to know that God made them for a specific reason. The other reason knowing this is so important is that there is no guarantee of happiness. An addict has often spent a very long time pursuing happiness and good feelings. Pursuing God’s purpose does not always mean happiness and good feelings, although it does mean fulfillment.
If you ask a former addict how they stopped using their substance of choice, most of them will tell you through their faith. What they mean by this is that they believed they had value because of their higher cause, and they began to pursue God instead of a temporary high. They learned to accept that sometimes life is unpleasant because they came to place their hope in something better for their future. They came to know that eventually they will come to a place where there is no more suffering, even if they have to wait for Heaven.
It can be really difficult to figure out what to believe in when in the throes of addiction. The addiction cycle becomes so miserable and depressing that the addict is desperate to escape. However, what the addict must go through to escape is complete torture. It takes a real dependence on God to get through the misery of detox and resisting urges to get high. It takes a complete change in paradigm to leave behind old friends and lifestyle. This kind of change rarely happens without something dramatic. Perhaps this is why Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on the idea of giving the addiction over to God. Perhaps this is why many, many thousands have given up their addiction through the programming at Celebrate Recovery.
If you or your teenager is stuck in the horrific cycle of addiction, try everything you can to hold onto the promise of God’s love. There is no guarantee that you will be happy sober. However, there is the promise that if you pursue God’s purpose for your life you will feel like you have meaning; you will feel as though you have something to offer the world after all this time of feeling worthless.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT