Faith in Recovery Part 4

Faith in Recovery Pt. 4: The Most Popular and Unique Faith-Based Rehabs & Programs

Faith in Recovery Part 4

From A.A. to mountain climbing, these are some of the most talked about and most creative programs and facilities for drug rehabilitation.

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world… as in being able to remake ourselves.
Mahatma Gandhi

Of the 14,500 substance abuse facilities in the United States today, World Religion News is featuring seven in the fourth installment of the Faith in Recovery series. These facilities are notable for the large amounts of support they’ve received and are considered some of the most popular or most unique programs.

Use hashtag #FaithInRecovery to follow our multi-part series.

Faith-based recovery generally has gained more support over the past few years, because it appeals to those who are religious or spiritual and want to be free from the shackles of addiction.

Alcoholics Anonymous

According to the Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) website, “Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem.” It has no political or professional leanings and requires no specific education or age for participants to join. Membership is for anyone who wishes to live a life free from alcoholism. The first A.A. book was published in 1939. A.A. originated from the Oxford Group, a religious movement that gained traction in the U.S. and Europe in the early years of the 20th century. The Oxford group “practiced a formula of self-improvement by performing self-inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation, and carrying the message to others.”

The A.A. method is based on The Twelve Steps, which “are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.” God is ubiquitously present in the Twelve Steps, with six steps mentioning God, one mentioning prayer, and one alluding to a spiritual awakening. A.A. is known for its use of the concept “Higher Power” (HP) to refer to a god figure in the addict’s life. Step 2 is: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

There are over 118,000 groups and 2.1 million members worldwide. Contact information to obtain meeting lists in specific locations is available here.

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery also utilizes the Twelve Steps, but it differs from Alcoholics Anonymous in that it is Christ-centered. According to its official website: “Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered program with foundations firmly established in Biblical truth. The 12 Steps with accompanying Scriptures and the 8 Principles based on the Beatitudes offer participants a clear path of salvation and discipleship; bringing hope, freedom, sobriety, healing, and the opportunity to give back one day at a time through our one and only true Higher Power, Jesus Christ.  The 12 Steps and the 8 Principles work seamlessly together, tying historical recovery to timeless Biblical teaching.” For each of the Twelve Steps, Celebrate Recovery lists a line of scripture as a basis.

The founder of Celebrate Recovery is John Baker. It has its origins in Saddleback church and is currently being utilized in thousands of churches around the country. About 27,000 people have been through the Celebrate Recovery program at Saddleback Church in the past 23 years while over 2.5 million people have seen the program to completion. Saddleback Church is an evangelical church based in Lake Forest, California with various locations in Southern California. It was founded by “The Purpose-Driven Life” bestselling author and senior pastor Rick Warren.

A group locator for Celebrate Recovery is available here.

Read the previous article in this series:
Faith in Recovery Pt. 3: Is Faith-Based Addiction Treatment More Effective?


Narconon is a drug rehabilitation program that utilizes a regimen of nutrition, exercise, saunas, and life skills training. According to its official website, the mission of the organization is “to provide an effective path for rehabilitation from drug abuse and to assist society in preventing the scourge of drugs worldwide.” The program is supported by the Church of Scientology and uses methods and principles of rehabilitation developed by L. Ron Hubbard. It has also been adopted as a secular program by Christian and Catholic churches, as well as Hindu and Buddhist temples. Narconon differentiates itself from 12-step programs and presents itself as inherently a drug-free program, utilizing a nonmedical withdrawal process to assist the individual to come off drugs. (Narconon means “no narcotics.”) Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma, is Narconon’s leading drug rehabilitation center.

Narconon began when prison inmate William Benitez discovered a book by L. Ron Hubbard while trying to recover from drug addiction. He found the tools he needed to aid in his rehabilitation and he requested to set up a drug recovery program inside the prison. With the help of Hubbard, Benitez further established Narconon formally in the prison. It was in California that he opened the first Narconon residential center upon his release.

Narconon centers are present around the world in 20 nations. Search for a Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation center here.

Teen Challenge USA

Teen Challenge USA is a Christian Addiction Recovery program for teens. The organization sets itself apart from traditional recovery centers. The group pride itself in the “Jesus Factor.” According to its official website: “Our Christian recovery program focuses on the power of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of Christ to give our students a guiding light. Through Christ, our students are able to form a stronger connection to their faith, which makes a huge difference in their recovery. We provide a faith-based environment to encourage healing and a new life in Christ. We instill Biblical teachings into our daily routines and give our students the tools they need to empower themselves through God.” Their programs typically last 12-18 months.

Teen Challenge USA began in the 1950s when David Wilkerson felt a call from God to “go to New York City and help those boys” after he’d seen a magazine article about the murder of teenage gangs.

Find a Teen Challenge USA center here.

Chabad Residential Treatment Center

Chabad is a drug rehabilitation center specifically for men located in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1972, it is also centered around the Twelve Steps but is based on protocols established by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington D.C. According to its official website, Chabad tailors its treatment plan for each unique patient, and includes both individual and group therapy, 12 step participation and counseling. Focus of treatment transitions from acute care to after care once client is on the road to recovery.

Chabad offers glatt kosher and cholov yisroel meals, observes Jewish holidays, offers daily Torah study and prayers in the onsite synagogue.

Yoga of 12-Step Recovery

Yoga of 12-Step Recovery provides yoga classes to those on the road to substance abuse recovery, combining yoga with the principles of 12-step programs and cutting-edge research on healing from trauma. It administers a “holistic recovery program” that “works in tandem with traditional treatment to address the physical, mental and spiritual disease of addiction.”

According to researcher Marilia Coutinho from, "Mindfulness treatment approaches", or meditation, is not only helpful, but shows promising results as being more effective than cognitive behavioral treatment and others. Patients have shown higher volitional control, less anxiety and less craving in smoking cessation studies, for example. A study by Surbhi Khanna and Jefffrey M. Greeson shows current scientific evidence on the “clinical promise” of yoga and mindfulness as therapies for substance abuse rehabilitation. The findings supported the fact that yoga and mindfulness are promising as alternative ways towards healing the addict.

Find a Yoga of 12-Step Recovery meeting near you.

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission

Featured in a documentary called “A New High,” this unique drug rehabilitation program utilizes non-traditional methods. Former Army ranger Mike Johnson leads a group of individuals in recovery to climb Mount Rainer, which is 14,400 feet. The hope is that overcoming a tangible mountain will inspire and help them to overcome the internal mountains that keep them from achieving full recovery.

“This climbing thing, it gives them a chance to write a new story, a story of success, a story of hard work, the chance to be part of the team. It’s up the mountain, or it’s down into the grave,” Johnson states. The idea behind the program is that the A.A. method is not the only way to rehabilitate those with substance abuse issues. 

Dr. Scott Bienenfield, who specializes in addiction, affirms that alternative programs such as the one featured in “A New High” can be effective. “Setting a goal to reach the summit of a mountain would require many of the things we suggest for people attempting to stabilize an addiction. Vigorous physical activity, commitment, accountability and above all, peer support are all necessary requirements.”

How to find a faith-based treatment center that’s right for you

There exists many programs that utilize faith in the process of recovery. Although it has been proven that secular modes of rehabilitation can be just as effective as spiritual/religious modes, faith-based programs provide an avenue where an individual can apply his or her faith as he or she strives to be drug-free. It is to be emphasized that not only does the right program have to address a person’s unique needs, it also has to be evidence-based and not lacking in spiritual support. Most faith-based treatment centers combine traditional and spiritual approaches in their treatment. Individuals are able to heal from addiction while at the same time making their faith and spirituality stronger.

Read the previous articles in this series:
Faith in Recovery Pt. 1: Can Faith Help Battle Addiction?
Faith in Recovery Pt. 2: The Surprising Truth About Religion And Drug Use
Faith in Recovery Pt. 2: The Surprising Truth About Religion and Drug Use
Faith in Recovery Pt. 3: Is Faith-Based Addiction Treatment More Effective?


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