Why believe in God when caught in the grips of an addiction? Isn’t that an individual choice? It is, but proponents for faith-based recovery are not merely pushing their beliefs because they want others to be like-minded, though religious persons may feel strongly that their faith has improved their own lives; it is because there is an actual power that aids in recovery from substance abuse when belief in God is a part of the process. The World Health Organization and other studies have found empirical data that supports the claim that religiosity and spirituality are advantageous in overcoming addiction. It has been shown to bring resilience, strength, and an overall improved quality of life. In its absence, recovery may not be as meaningful, lasting, or swift.

Looking beyond the studies and diving into the personal accounts of former addicts shows a consistent theme. In fact, many recovered addicts report that their religiosity was a critical factor in overcoming their addiction. I would venture to say that believing in God is paramount to any other treatment or medication. Addiction ranks highly on the list of difficult human experiences, and God is irreplaceable when it comes to getting through difficulties in life. There truly is something to it. Let’s take a closer look at why that is.

Purpose

Sometimes living and being clean for yourself is not enough, especially when you may feel like you’ve lost all control over your life. As a struggling single mother will continue to work countless hours to support her kids, or as a brother will volunteer a kidney for his dying sibling, it is ennobling to live for another and not count the cost. So is the act of living for God when the going is extremely difficult. Many addicts use their family members and friends as a motivator to continue on, and they should. It is also very powerful to remember that there is one above, our Creator, who is completely invested in our well-being and the outcome of our lives. He is always there and he loves unconditionally, and that gives us meaning regardless of all other circumstances.

Strength

An incomparable source of strength is also within reach through the atonement of the Savior, Jesus Christ. This invaluable gift was given freely through His sacrifice, and all that is needed is a sincere prayer petitioning help. He will open His arms and take the burdens that are laid upon the back of the sufferer. The act of surrendering one’s own abilities and accepting the outside help, the miraculous blessings of comfort that only He gives, helps incredibly. There is something paradoxically strengthening about knowing that you are nothing and that you need to be rescued.

Resilience

Something that helps many members of any faith overcome challenges is that they know that whatever is troublesome, it is not the most important thing in life. To a believer, even failing in all other aspects of life–be it career-wise, educational, social, mental, emotional, physical–is not a failure as long as they continue to believe in God. As long as they continue to live with God in their hearts on earth, other fears and sorrows and worries can pass away.

Optimism

Nothing is impossible with God, and that is cause for a great brightness of hope. A belief in God has a natural tendency to lead the soul toward sanguine views, to uphold social morality, and to cultivate positive relations with others. Christ preached of unconditional love toward others and definitely love for the self, which an addict needs in order to pull out of the pits they’ve fallen into. With God, everything is possible–and that is nothing if not optimistic.

For these reasons, a belief in God makes freedom available for the soul who suffers in chains.