By Scott Trout, Enterhealth Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
At Enterhealth, many of the patients we treat come into our program with underlying mental illnesses, spiritual dilemmas and personal problems that need to be addressed during their treatment for alcohol or drug addiction. As many as 80% of people who come to Enterhealth for treatment come in with some kind of co-occurring issue, and to effectively help these people, we need to address both the addiction and the additional problems. We call this dual-diagnosis treatment, and it’s a big part of what we do.
To be clear, when Enterhealth refers to dual-diagnosis treatment, we mean co-occurring psychological/mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or psychosis. We also believe that addiction is a brain disease, which is supported by research from the National Institutes of Health and the American Society for Addiction Medicine. We do not subscribe to the belief that addiction is the result of a moral or spiritual failing.
That being said, we recognize that those struggling with addiction who consider themselves religious or spiritual have unique obstacles for recovery. People of faith often grapple with what it means to abuse drugs and alcohol, which is usually at odds with their belief. Many people find strength in their faith and religion, and for patients who feel this way, treatment programs can often be enhanced by adding a spiritual component to their comprehensive treatment plan.
Religion and Spirituality
First, it’s important to make a quick distinction between religion and spirituality. Many times, these terms are thrown out more or less interchangeably, but there are distinct elements that make them different. Religion denotes organized systems of belief, and includes different faiths such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and the myriad other world religions.
Most (if not all) people who consider themselves religious believe in a specific higher power specific to their faith (God, Allah, etc.), and many also believe in an afterlife. Religion usually also requires believers to follow specific rules, guidelines, and rituals for worship (i.e., prayer, meditation).
Spirituality, on the other hand, does not denote belief in a specific religion or higher power. The concept of spirituality is much broader, and it tends to involve finding something outside of oneself that allows people to derive meaning and purpose in life. For example, some people feel that they have a spiritual connection to the Earth (or even more broadly, the universe) that connects them to the world and other living things.
The key distinction here is that a person who believes that they have a spiritual connection to the Earth or the universe is not worshipping a specific higher power, and they don’t typically have codified practices for worship. Spirituality also tends to be more inclusive and abstract than religion.
Incorporating Spirituality into a Clinical Treatment Program
Most people look at the addiction treatment industry and assume there are two options: clinical treatment programs that take a very medical approach, and spiritual or religious programs/fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. In reality, there is usually a good amount of overlap between these two kinds of addiction-recovery models. That’s why incorporating spirituality in the clinical treatment process can be highly beneficial for those who consider religion or spirituality to be an important aspect of their lives.
For those in treatment who are open to them, faith-based treatments can be helpful tools for self-realization and introspection. Other spiritual or religious practices, such as prayer and meditation, help patients calm themselves and allow them to realize their innermost thoughts and feelings. Prayer and meditation can also aid in recovery by helping people cope with daily struggles in ways that don’t involve alcohol or drugs.
Religious treatment programs tend to focus a great deal on prayer, and this can be helpful for some people. These support groups and treatments often promote prayer as a method to strengthen one’s spirit and forge a close relationship with a higher power so that addicts feel healthy and loved enough to turn away from alcohol and drugs and turn to prayer and a higher power.
How Enterhealth Incorporates Spirituality into Addiction Treatment
At Enterhealth, we know that overcoming alcohol and drug addiction is not a one-size-fits-all process. It takes time, effort, and the right treatment to be effective for all patients. That’s why our team of addiction-trained physicians, psychiatrists and other specialists collaborate to create customized treatment plans for all of our patients.
While Enterhealth maintains a strong focus on science-based medical treatment, we do recognize that faith and spiritual practices can be beneficial to patients and their family members. Faith-based components of a comprehensive plan can impart strength and hope, as well as giving the person in treatment healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress, cravings and other difficulties associated with addiction.
As such, Enterhealth does offer patients the option to work the 12-steps at our inpatient facility, Enterhealth Ranch. The 12-step method was originally developed by cofounders of Alcoholics Anonymous. In summary, the 12-step method involves admission that the alcoholic or addict has no control over their addiction, that they must turn themselves over to their higher power for strength, and that they need to live by a new code of behavior. The 12-step program at Enterhealth Ranch is typically led by a representative from Alcoholics Anonymous and meets at regular times several days a week.
Enterhealth also offers a weekly bible-study group called “A Purpose-Driven Life,” based on Rick Warren’s book and led by Enterhealth Ranch’s therapist, Renee Segler-Dather. The group was previously led from 2012 to August of 2018 by Enterhealth’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Scout Trout, who is planning a webinar on the subject entitled “How Faith Can Support Your Recovery.” This webinar will be held on Thursday, December 6, 2018 from 12pm to 1pm CST. To learn more or to register for the webinar, visit our event calendar.
To learn more about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or to inquire about using Enterhealth’s services for you or a loved one, call 1.800.388.4601 or click to contact us.