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Christian Addiction Recovery and the Twelve Steps

Until recently the majority of the addiction treatment programs—often consisting of support fellowships for individuals who shared a desire for improvement or healing—had some sort of religious basis with many of them being Christian. Twelve-step programs were developed with an emphasis on spirituality as a means of achieving recovery, differing from the decidedly Christian ideals of other groups.

Nowadays, Christian support groups commonly offer alternatives to the Twelve Steps or even Christian-based interpretations of the actual Twelve Steps as a blueprint for Christians to overcome addiction. Therefore, the following is a concise explanation of how Christian addiction recovery reached a point of synthesis with the spiritual Twelve Steps.

Early Addiction Recovery Options for Christians

In the late-nineteenth century when individuals were just realizing the full implications of being alcohol-dependent and searching for ways to overcome alcoholism, one of the few options available was to check oneself into a hospital to “dry out.”

This was often unsuccessful.

Much like prison was ineffective because it forces an addicted offender into abstinence against their will, simply keeping an alcoholic away from alcohol is not enough for the individual to overcome to compulsion to drink.

By the early 1900s, the field of psychology was just beginning to blossom on the eve of Freudian and Jungian Psychology while a group of Boston-based up-and-comers had begun to focus on treating individuals who were more-or-less functional, but severely unhappy or experiencing some sort of emotional distress.

The Emmanuel movement began in the Emmanuel Church in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1906, combining Christianity and religious healing with the psychotherapeutic ideals of early psychotherapists. The result of this marriage of seemingly opposing methods was the idea of using individual and group counseling as primary tools for the treatment of alcoholism and addiction.

Although the Christian component is considered minimal compared to the influence of psychology, the Emmanuel movement was led by Episcopal priests who emphasized the importance of prayer, group support, self-help, and a surrender to external forces as part of overcoming one’s afflictions, whether it be addiction or common neurosis.

In short, the group’s creators felt that all diseases or conditions, including alcoholism, had physical, mental, and spiritual components. Clients were encouraged not to feel guilt or shame for their afflictions and were taught a variety of meditation-like relaxation techniques in order to achieve a state of conscious and subconscious peace.

Christianity and Spirituality in Recovery

The Oxford Group—which was started in 1921 by Frank Buchman after he had a profound spiritual experience—was similarly intended to offer Christians a means of overcoming their problems and afflictions, which the group’s ideology considered to be the fault of fear of selfishness. In order to overcome their problems, members would gather to pray, offer each other guidance, and confess their sins to one another in an effort to restore their emotional and spiritual purity.

The group’s methods were summarized with their “Five C’s,” which would become a major inspiration for the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous: Confidence, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, and Continuance. The Oxford Group quickly became popular, spreading to the United States where a man named Bill Wilson had been attending the group’s meetings in an effort to overcome alcoholism.

However, Wilson didn’t like the Oxford Group’s view of alcoholism as a sin and alcoholics as sinners. Instead, Wilson took bits and pieces of the Oxford Group’s Christian-based methodology, including the five C’s, and inspiration from other programs of the day, combining them with some of his own ideas to create Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935.

Alcoholics Anonymous is the original twelve-step program and was intended to be a blueprint for physical and spiritual recovery rather than Christian addiction recovery. Wilson’s renowned Twelve Steps were essentially instructions members could follow that would allow them to achieve a spiritual awakening, which the twelve-step method seems to view as a process that will result in an individual achieving long-lasting sobriety. While the spiritual emphasis of Alcoholics Anonymous and the twelve-step method cannot be denied, many Christians would prefer a Christian emphasis rather than a spiritual emphasis in a recovery fellowship or program.

Christianity and the Twelve Steps

While the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous offer members the freedom to form a closer bond to whatever higher power in which they believe, a program called Celebrate Recovery has solved the problem by reinterpreting the Twelve Steps to have a more Christian-oriented, Christ-based approach.

Founded in 1991, Celebrate Recovery essentially re-wrote the Twelve Steps using biblical analogues and Bible passages, ensuring that Christian addicts would benefit from the twelve-step method in much the same way as an member of Alcoholics Anonymous benefits from the Twelve Steps as they were originally written.

Celebrate Recovery’s Christ-based Twelve Steps have proven to be effective for chemical addictions, behavioral addictions, and even other mental and physical afflictions. Since its creation, Celebrate Recovery has grown to over 20,000 groups worldwide, making it one of the most popular and accessible twelve-step programs for Christians in the world.

Interested in Christian Addiction Recovery? Call Us Now

The journey from addiction to lasting sobriety is different for everyone. Unfortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits-all form of addiction treatment that will allow every addict to achieve optimal results. However, addiction treatment facilities often a variety of therapies with which individuals can personalize a curriculum to ensure that it addresses each of their recovery needs.

If you or someone you love would like to discuss some of the treatment options that are available, call Drug Treatment Center Finder today. Our recovery specialists and intake coordinators are on standby, waiting to help those suffering from chemical dependency find the programs that will allow them to achieve long-lasting sobriety, health, and happiness. Call (855) 619-8070 now.