Christian or Secular Drug Rehab – Determining What’s Right for You
Choosing the best drug rehab treatment program can be a difficult endeavor. Whether you’re looking for addiction recovery for yourself or you’re helping a loved one make the choice, there are many considerations. One of the most fundamental decisions for many people is deciding between a faith-based Christian treatment program and a secular facility with no religious orientation.
Christian Rehab & Secular Rehab Similarities
Christian drug treatment programs really aren’t vastly different from secular rehab facilities. Regardless of the basic approach, you can expect trained medical staff to care for your needs during detoxification. Medical professionals will be on hand to provide 24/7 monitoring of withdrawal symptoms. They will also constantly assess for drug use-related concerns that may require hospitalization or other care.
In both kinds of facilities you’ll receive a range of treatments designed to address your emotional needs. Many facilities provide treatment for any underlying mental health conditions that can sabotage your recovery. For example, many people with substance abuse problems also struggle with psychiatric disorders such as major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other mood and anxiety disorders.
Christian and secular drug rehab treatment programs are both designed to meet your physical needs as well. Addiction depletes your body of needed resources, sapping you of strength and energy, while making you feel physically ill. A quality addiction center, no matter what its approach, will help you rebuild your physical health. Depending on the individual facility, you might take yoga classes or go on nature hikes. Improving your physical well-being through exercise will bolster self-confidence and help your body release endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s own natural “feel-good chemicals.” They help keep your mood stable and enhance your sense of well-being.
You can also expect to find help developing an aftercare plan. The substance abuse recovery team may recommend sober living to make it easier to transition into a life that’s free from addiction. Additionally, no matter which type of treatment you choose, you might have access to services like job skills training, development of decision-making skills or anger management. Addiction specialists can also help you find additional treatment, such as marriage or family therapy that may be needed to address damaged family dynamics.
Being a Christian does not mean that sobriety can only start at a Christ-centered rehab program. Secular treatment facilities have helped many people, regardless of religion, find healing from addiction.
Christian and Secular Rehab Differences
The primary difference between a Christian rehab program and a secular one is that Christian drug rehab treatment offers a faith-based approach. In addition to tending to your physical and emotional needs, Christian rehab centers base their treatment on Biblical principles, often those found in the well-known 12-step process. They use these to guide addicts on their path to recovery. As you work with the treatment staff, you may go through a series of steps that include admitting your mistakes, taking responsibility for them, and asking forgiveness from others.
Christian addiction treatment centers are also ideally suited to handle issues of guilt, an emotion that weighs heavily on many addicts. Once your body is fully detoxed, it’s not uncommon to feel guilt over things you may have done while you were actively using or drinking. For example, a prescription drug addict may feel remorse for abandoning her children or a cocaine addict might be stricken with deep guilt for verbally abusing a family member. Christ-centered treatment programs are uniquely qualified to walk addicts through these intense emotions and find a way to ask for forgiveness from others and from God, as well as to forgive themselves. It’s critical to find this forgiveness; addicts who cannot are much more vulnerable to relapse.
Another advantage of seeking help from a Christian drug rehab treatment is the range of spiritual services they provide. Many centers offer activities like Bible studies, church services or Masses, spiritually-based support groups, and personal prayer and devotional time. You can expect to receive plenty of time for quiet reflection and meditation to help sort out the intense range of emotions you’re feeling.
Some Christian treatment centers may be the right choice if an addict either has no money or limited financial resources. Depending on the facility, it may be funded by religious communities or organizations rather than patient fees. As a result, these rehabilitation centers are able to provide quality treatment at a reduced cost.
When Christian Rehab May Not Be a Good Fit
While faith-based treatment centers have helped many heal, they may not be the right choice for some people. Nick’s story vividly depicts this:
Nick grew up in a “good Christian home” – at least by all external appearances. He, his parents and his two sisters went to church every Sunday morning and evening. His father was a deacon in the church, and his mother played the piano. Everyone thought they were the perfect family.
But behind closed doors life was far from perfect. Nick’s parents were extremely strict and rigid. Discipline was harsh, and, for Nick at least, often included being whipped with a belt. Nick and his sisters were obedient out of fear. Yet, despite good behavior, it was rarely good enough. Nick and his sisters were frequently berated for the smallest things – a missed crumb when wiping off the dinner table, a less than perfectly made bed, or a misspelled word on a homework assignment.
Between the yelling, the name-calling (e.g. “wretched child”, “devil’s child”), the whippings, and the constant lectures about going to hell for being such a horrible child, Nick became increasingly depressed. By his mid-teens he was using alcohol regularly. It helped numb the pain he felt. He obtained it from a friend whose parents entertained often and didn’t lock the liquor cabinet. Nick managed to hide his drinking from his unsuspecting parents; they were too involved in church activities to notice how lost and distant their son had become.
By the time Nick graduated from high school, he had a serious alcohol problem.
Fast-forward 5 years… Nick, who was now living halfway across the country from his parents, was on the verge of losing his job as a restaurant manager. He had shown up to work one too many times with alcohol on his breath. His boss, who had become a father figure to Nick, knew he was a good kid and didn’t want to fire him. So, he told him he had to get into alcohol rehab if he wanted to keep his job.
There were two treatment facilities in the area – both had excellent reputations. But, one was a “Christian” program. Nick bristled when he found that out. Although the staff was very pleasant, he opted to go to the secular program. He knew that, no matter how good the Christian rehab program was, he would “see” his father and mother in the staff and never be able to trust them. In fact, the mere thought of having the Bible “shoved down his throat” on a daily basis made him want to drink more than ever.
Nick wisely chose the other program and successfully completed rehab. He recently reached his three-year sobriety date, and celebrated with his fiancé over dinner.
While Nick’s childhood home situation wasn’t the norm, it certainly dictated many of the choices he made. One of his friends went to the Christian rehab program a year later and told Nick how great it was. Nick smiled and nodded, knowing deep down that he could attribute his sobriety – at least in part – to the wise decision he made to choose a secular treatment program.
There are several reasons Christian alcohol and drug rehab treatment might not be in your best interest, just as it wasn’t for Nick. These include the following:
- Did you grow up in a very strict Christian home? – If you were raised in an environment that defined godliness through punishment, you may not feel comfortable in a rehab program defined by its Christian principles. It can create significant internal conflict that may make it hard for you to focus on treatment.
- Did you grow up in a hypocritical Christian environment? – Conflicts can also sabotage treatment if you were raised by parents or caregivers who demanded Christian ideals from their children but acted in a very un-Christ-like manner themselves. You may find that you have a very difficult time trusting the staff. You’ll be vulnerable to viewing them through the age-old filters from your childhood, wondering if or assuming that they’re hypocrites – just like your parents.
- Did you try Christian rehab before but found conflict for these or other reasons? – Achieving recovery is a process, and it can take several tries before it’s successful. However, if you’ve tried Christian rehab and found that the basis of the program triggered conflict that got in the way of recovery, it might be time to try a secular addiction treatment program. Christian rehab can be a wonderful way to go for a lot of people, but trying to force yourself into a program that is going to trigger old issues or make you question the motives of every staff person, then it’s not going to help you – and could even make things worse.
The road to sobriety can be challenging; but it can be a little easier with the right team of professionals to provide support and resources. If you or a loved one needs treatment, reach out for drug rehab treatment—Christian or secular—before the addiction becomes worse and the consequences become increasingly severe. You can find healing. Make the decision to start now by choosing a program that feels right to you.