Is Christian Rehab Too Exclusive?

Is Christian Rehab Too Exclusive?

Who, Why and How of Effective Christian ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS OF ABUSE (AODA) Treatment

While at a conference for addictions treatment professionals, I listened to an ex-priest extol the virtues of inclusiveness in treatment while shaming the “exclusivity” of specific faith based treatment modalities. Just a few months earlier, I was in a meeting of “Christian Counselors” referring to Alcoholics Anonymous as a cult where a “door knob” could be the higher strength that helped keep a drunk on the sober path while citing the Humanist Manifestos agenda to replace Christianity with the religion of “mind science.” Meanwhile, back at the ranch, many psychologists, psychiatrists, and researchers have attempted to blame Western Civilizations organized religions for much of the neurosis and dysfunction found in many families and individuals. These extreme, myopic, and misinformed views provide the backdrop to a much misunderstood treatment consumer group. The needs of this group and the effective approaches to meeting those needs will be briefly discussed in this introductory piece.


A Matter of Trust

Mary is a 43 year-old divorced and remarried mother of two sons from her first marriage of six years, and a daughter from her second marriage of nine years. Mary reports having been hit and “cheated on” by her high-school sweetheart first husband she met in church camp. Her mother was an alcoholic and Mary states one of her mothers’ boyfriends molested her while “Mom” was passed out drunk. Mary presents in addition mannered and well groomed with a strained smile and apparent dark circles (disguise of depression) around her eyes. Mary describes having lost permanent custody of her first two children, during her first marriage, when following the admonition of her church elders to return to stay with her husband despite his drunkenness and violence. Her neighbors had called Child Protective sets and local City Police during one particularly loud and violent episode. Mary and her first husband were ordered to court mandated parenting and anger management classes. Mary was later referred to a Psychiatrist, placed on Valium and Prozac, and moved to a battered womens shelter and divorced her first husband. Her church leadership blamed secular counseling and the courts for Marys divorce, she claimed. Mary changed church denominations and church membership. Mary met her second husband at a church “divorce recovery” workshop a year after joining the new church body. Meanwhile, Marys use of Valium had escalated from “5 mg, as needed, not to go beyond 10 mg per day,” to “10 mgs. three times each day and 15 mgs each evening before bed.” Mary had also started having wine with dinner following her first divorce. She is now consuming eight to ten “mini-vodka” bottles each day. Marys husband blames secular psychology for Mary’s increased anxiety and addictions to Valium and alcohol. Mary and her second husband are looking for an effective “Substance Abuse/Dual-diagnosis” treatment facility.

This fleeting vignette alludes to many aspects of fundamentalist Christians fears of our post-modern secular humanist approaches to lifes vagaries. Mary has “special needs” as a possible AODA treatment consumer. Would this client assistance from entering a “typical” AODA or dual-diagnosis treatment facility? Would she, or her husband, already CONSIDER placing her in such an ecosystem? If “trust” is the door that opens to bonding with her counselors and peers in a treatment setting, what are MARYS needs in order to establish trust? While it would be easy for a “new-ager” to sit in judgment of Marys religiosity, is it not this very same kind of judging these new agers profess to oppose? Would an “enlightened” new-ager suggest a Black adult female client “just give it a chance to work” if she requested being sent to a chiefly Black-staffed treatment facility specializing in “African American” acculturation issues IN LIEU of admitting into the local “one size-fits-all” all-Caucasian staffed “New-Age-4-U” local treatment center?

Clinically Sound-The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There are great arrays of AODA treatment centers, which claim to be Bible, or Faith based. With Teen Challenge, The Salvation Army, Transformation House, Uncle-Bobs-God House (contrived,) how are referring clinicians and possible clients to know the difference?

In many “Christian Treatment Centers,” excessive guilt, shame, and obsession with “sin” concepts attempt to manipulate change by creating spiritual and volitional discomfort at the very idea of relapsing into substance using/abusing patterns. These methodologies abort any attempts to understand the motives, wants and needs clients may be attempting to fulfill by addictive lifestyles. Clinically sound modalities, Christian based or not, understand that humans execute behaviors for given sets of motives or goals! Conversely, ignoring “sin,” or similar concepts, prevents clients from facing their immoral/amoral behaviors and their effects. Every healthful treatment ideology includes “inventorying” negative behaviors, their effects, motives, expressions of regret/remorse and corrective thinking, feeling, behaving and appropriate restitution.

The “automaton” syndrome is another set of troubling foibles. Recovering FROM addictions and RECOVERING the self require greater “self-hood” than being limited to quoting or paraphrasing a book, no matter how holy and inspired that text may be. Christs admonition to,

“Matt 22:37-40

37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). [Deut 6:5.] 38 This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. [Lev 19:18.] 40 These two commandments lsum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

makes it clear; we are to develop, understand and be cognizant of our TRUE self. Clinically poor “Christian” programs are likely to miss this point and settle for creating religious automatons. Understanding and being able to quote and apply scriptural precepts is an important part of Christian treatment. Obsession with sin and the Bible does not equate with recovery.

Another area of controversy for “Christian” programs and counselors is one of documentation and outcomes measurements. One of the ten “Counselor Certifying” bodies recognized by the California State Department of Alcohol and Drug programs has resisted any requirement involving documenting treatment practices, client progress and outcomes measurements. Clinically sound Bible based treatment understands the scriptural basis for accountability. Scientific methods are NOT the enemy of sound clinical Bible based therapies. This topic is far too expansive to address in this article.

Many Christian consumers fear the possible “faith undermining” theories, techniques, foundations, beliefs and practices of secular or humanistic based treatment programs. Effective and clinically sound “faith based” programs can and do exist. They are a necessity from a niche marketing perspective and a human compassion vantage point. Many “in need” Christians feel hopeless. They are left with the options of being spiritually abused “into Recovery” or being treated in programs that do not understand their rare needs. Fortunately, several clinically sound Christian Programs have become obtainable. The above criterion sets us apart.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Humanist Manifesto is the title of three manifestos laying out a Humanist worldview. They are the original Humanist Manifesto (1933, often referred to as Humanist Manifesto I), the Humanist Manifesto II (1973), and Humanism and Its Aspirations (2003, a.k.a. Humanist Manifesto III). The Manifesto originally arose from religious Humanism, though secular Humanists also signed.

The central theme of all three is the elaboration of a philosophy and value system, which does not necessarily include belief in any personal deity or “higher strength,” although the three differ considerably in their tone, form, and goal. Each has been signed at its set afloat by various noticeable academics and others who are in general agreement with its principles.

For more information, contact Rev. Matthew Weyuker MA, CADC II at Transformation House ( 1-877-900-7326

Or Pacific Hills treatment center.

Blazer, Lisa and Ryan, “Psychology Debunked” (Creation House Press, 2002) pgs. 1-241

Bluckley, Ed, “Why Christians Can’t trust Psychology” (Harvest House, 1993) pgs. 47-258

Ellis, Albert, “The Case Against Religion: A Psychotherapist’s View” (New York: Institute for Rational Living, 1971)

Ellis, Albert, “There Is No Place for the Concept of Sin in Psychotherapy,” Journal of Counseling Psychology 7 (1960): pgs.188-192

Lowinson, Ruiz, Millman, and Langrod, “Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, Fourth Edition,” (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2005): pgs. 587-598, 653-670, 723-732, 763-771, 1286-1299

Schaeffer, Francis A., “The Complete Works of Francis A Schaeffer: A Christian World View: quantity 5: A Christian View of the West,” (Crossway Books, 1982) pgs. 417-501

Yalom, Irvin D. with Leszcz, Molyn, “The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy: 5th Edition” (2005: Basic Books): pgs. 77-108

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