Faith-Based Programs

Faith-based programs are constructed around a spiritual or religious path to recovery.

Christian churches and religious institutions often host 12-Step groups. Some offer their own religious or faith-based addiction recovery programs; these are usually outpatient programs and are run by a member of the church. There also are religious-based (usually Christian) programs not run by specific churches; these are both residential and outpatient.

Celebrate Recovery is a Christian 12-Step program that emphasizes Jesus as the only Higher Power. It sees all hurts, hang-ups, and habits as one issue, and no declaration of being an alcoholic is required.

In addition, the Salvation Army is a residential program based on Christian doctrine. They manage charitable businesses to help people in the community.

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SELF-HELP PROGRAMS – 12-Step Programs

12-Step Programs

There are many 12-Step programs all over the world based on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) model, which has a long and substantial history.

This psycho, social, spiritual program has much to offer. These 12-Step programs offer support and guidance from others in recovery. They provide a recovery structure which can be adjusted to your schedule and needs. Both the program itself and the social, emotional, and logistical support are important.

The only condition for membership into a 12-Step program is a desire to stop your addictive behavior. They have no affiliation with other groups, and their only focus is recovery. Many people will find it desirable or necessary to regularly participate in the program. Anonymity is expected.

Serenity Prayer

There are over 200 different AA-based programs all over the world for people attempting to recover from various addictions and mental health issues.  A few of those programs include:

  • Al-Anon is a 12-Step based program for the families and friends of alcoholics and other addicts. A similar structure to AA, it is centered on the addictive quality of codependency.
  • Alateen is Al-Anon’s program for younger members.
  • Nar-Anon is the same program as Al-Anon but for the families of people addicted to narcotics and other drugs.
  • COSLAA and COSA are programs for families of sex addicts.
  • Codependents Anonymous (CODA) is a 12-Step program for people who share a common desire to develop healthy boundaries, a positive self-image, and functional and healthy relationships. CODA is influenced by psychology and specific concepts of family systems.
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self-help programs

Self-help programs are those ran by members of the recovering community or led by those who have undergone recovery, such as 12-Step programs.

Whether you make use of self-help program along with a professional program or as your only program, they can be quite valuable. The community support received from self-help programs is important, though they do have their limitations.

There are low or no-cost self-help resources available seven days a week, offered at various times throughout the day. Many different groups are held in churches, hospitals, sober and community centers, and police stations a round the world. In addition, there are a lot of self-help resources on the Internet.

Working with peers who have similar issues and who will give you support may be more desirable than working with a professional. You learn together, grow together, and hopefully form satisfying and rewarding friendships that last for life. As most self-help programs are ran by recovering community members, there will be variations in style. Try new meetings until you find the ones you like.

Note: Be very careful of advice from rigid, enthusiastic people who are absolutely certain they know what’s best for you; they can be quite convincing. Even if their advice has value, it may not be right for you or offer you a complete answer.

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Age, Gender and Other Issues - Women


Women addicts deal with the same issues as men, yet women experience a double standard with most addictions. They face harsher social stigmas and stereotypes than men do, causing them to suffer more. For instance:

  • Women should drink like a lady.
  • Women sex addicts are whores; men are just men.
  • Women food addicts are fat, while men are hefty.

Women who use sex to support their addictions experience extra shame, self-hatred, and guilt, which may cause them to hide their addictions for years. This is one example of how women have a tendency to feel sensations and emotions more than men do.
Biologically speaking, women and men are different but equal. Women produce less serotonin and endorphins than men, which is one reason why they experience such extreme emotions, and why they are more prone to mood issues like depression. Women also don’t make enough enzymes to process large amounts of alcohol. This can put women at a higher risk for liver disease.

Men don’t stay with addicted women as often as women stay with addicted men. Therefore, women may not have the same emotional support as men, may be limited in their financial resources, and tend to have very realistic concerns, especially about their children. These factors may keep a woman stuck in her addiction and in her dysfunctional (sick) family system longer than she wants. As a result, a codependent spouse may be in denial about their partner’s addiction.

Age, Gender & Other Issues - Women

For women in recovery, at least part of the chosen program structure needs to be female-oriented so that a feeling of safety and understanding is achieved. Women addicts need to involve themselves with positive recovering women to act as role models and who offer support in learning to identify and deal with women’s issues.

In recovery activities, women need to refocus on themselves.

Generally, women are more motivated towards recovery for the sake of their children than men are. Yet, women still must recover for themselves first. Similarly, recovery is not a time to worry about looking good or taking care of others. It’s a time to heal.

Women addicts often have a poor sense of self, defining themselves by the external roles they play, such as by their role as mother, wife, or employee. They need to increase a positive self-identity by focusing on the “Who am I?” aspects of themselves that they value. In addition, they need to work on developing self-assertiveness, self-empowerment, and self-esteem, then putting these new traits into action.

Trauma: Many women addicts have experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. If you are among them, your program must address these issues once you have built some solid recovery. If past trauma is blocking your recovery, then you must contain it until you are stable enough to deal with.

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Age, gender and other areas - Seniors

Seniors with drug and alcohol addiction (the silent epidemic) is quite common, and it often involves prescribed medication, maybe one or more pills that have been abused for many years without a problem.

Medication misuse by seniors can be abetted by boredom, isolation, lack of connection to other people, or limited options, goals, or the desire to achieve. Furthermore, mood swings, chronic depression, and thoughts of suicide can coincide with addictions.

If you’re a senior addict, instead of obsessing over what you don’t have, focus on the time, maturity, and experience you do have. You are a valuable resource. Find a way to help a person or an organization; even tasks as simple as babysitting for a single mom, listening to someone who needs to talk, or answering the telephone for a community group are ways to give and, in turn, receive. Activities that use your strengths are the best ones. Your life isn’t over unless you choose to let it be over. Get out and live to the fullest.

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Addicts deserve to be in a treatment program with diversity, where the staff is sensitive to their personal issues and where they respect the community that the addict comes from.


Lack of understanding of a specific person or community can generate negative attitudes and make an addict feel less welcomed into recovery. This increases the potential for dropping out, social isolation, returning to social using, and eventually, a return to addictive behaviors.

Sexual Identity and Gender Orientation Issues: The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has unique treatment issues. Negative attitudes toward LGBT individuals can still be detrimental to recovery. If you belong to the LGBT community, find a treatment program where the staff is sensitive and knowledgeable about LGBT challenges. Should staff try to deny your reality, or convert you into a mainstream or a religious reality, seek help elsewhere. The staff needs to be comfortable dealing with your unique emotional, family, and medical issues.

What if you feel you’re not able to openly acknowledge your sexual or gender identity? You must do what it takes to come out, at least to those closest to you, or find peace through healthy diversion, spiritual or therapeutic work, and self-acceptance.

First of all, you should be able to locate desirable treatment services in urban areas. Peer run support groups are an option.  Hence, keep looking until you find what you need.

Other areas of diversity

Race, Culture, or Nationality: A large part of community is based on race, culture, and nationality. A few examples of how these communities play a part in recovery include:

  • Cultures that use a pub as a social center
  • Taboos that disallow leaving a family, gang, or tribe
  • The cultural shame of admitting you have a problem for which you need help.

Furthermore, if you can’t find the support you need within your family or community, go outside of it. The worst likely outcome would be emotional upset or the need to separate from toxic family and friends. This is hard, so ask for support from someone who’s already found outside help. Don’t worry about being accepted by others. Most people will naturally accept you once they get to know you personally.

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Immediate Recovery - Adolescence

Addictions and addictive behaviors are a problem for everyone. The biggest group of addicts is middle-aged Americans, but adolescent addiction is also common. Adults are role models for kids, including how they chose to deal with their addictions.


Youth has been described as a form of insanity. With limited perspective, overridden by arrogance, adolescence can be difficult. This means teens are more prone to adolescent  addiction, especially when they cope with issues like parental addictions, social pressure, poor diet, and availability of substances. Important development occurs during adolescence, but addictions can interfere with the emotional growth of teenagers, including how they mature. They can become emotionally stuck at the age when their addiction started.

Teens develop symptoms of addiction within a few years, quicker than adults, but they struggle with accepting their addictions because they believe they are not old enough or have not used long enough.

Friends, and sometimes even parents, can soften the consequences of adolescents using by enabling them and promoting continued use. Making teens face consequences of their use can be the quickest way to wake them up and encourage them to stop.

Recovering adolescents have unique issues, such as:

  • Lack of major consequences
  • Peer pressure
  • Identity: Lack of, searching for
  • Boundaries: Pushing to understand, experience, and to learn about reality and their place in it
  • The adolescent stage of life:
    • Arrogance, curiosity, no established identity, being easily influenced, and lack of perspective
    • Blocked emotional growth due to addiction
    • They are younger than their age

A teen treatment group needs to include at least one peer who is actively recovering to be a positive role model (better if they have social status) by offering identification, support, and encouragement. Support for recovery must be strong enough to combat the social pressure of peers that use and the desire of the addict self to continue to use.

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Paying for Treatment – Continued

Paying for Treatment - Using Insurance

Unless you’re paying out-of-pocket for your professional treatment, you’ll need to involve a third party – your medical insurance company or explore less expensive treatment options.

Third Party Payments

Managed care companies oversee (hold down the cost of) your addiction treatment and mental health benefits. This means treatment providers receive less money, so many psychotherapists don’t participate in managed care work.

If the services of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to you, it could be very helpful in assisting you with your treatment needs and communicating vital information with management at your place of employment. The EAP is supposed to keep your treatment confidential, but your employer will likely already know you have a problem of some sort.

Client Evaluation: If you are going to use third party medical insurance to help pay for your treatment, they’ll want a professional to diagnose your condition. They’ll use a code from the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Parity diagnoses, such as depression and chemical dependency, fall under the Mental Health Parity Law, which gives you the right for coverage. Some medical insurance providers will pay less or nothing for a non-parity diagnosis. You or the professional you plan to work with should check your benefits and get preauthorization before you agree to treatment.

Inexpensive Treatment Options

Most publicly funded programs have a waiting list and limited staff and funding, and yet they are worthwhile. It’s possible to find inexpensive treatment programs or to combine parts of several low-cost programs to fit your needs.

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Paying for Treatment – Costs



The hourly rates of costs for treatment by private professionals vary greatly, partly due to geographic location.

Some professionals offer sliding scale rates, blocks of time, or packaged plans at a lower rate. Many licensed professionals take managed care insurance. The approximate range of costs for treatment hourly services, usually paid in cash (fee for service), is:

  • Addiction Counselor:  Work mostly for programs
  • Board Certified Psychiatrist:  $150 to $350
  • Coach (Uncertified/Certified):  $30 to $250
  • Certified/Licensed Counselors:  $50 to $150
  • Licensed Psychotherapist (Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Counselor, Marriage & Family Therapist, Clinical Psychologist):  $50 to $200
  • Private Interventionist:  $50 to $150; often free if the intervention is being run by a program’s staff where the client is expected to go into treatment, usually immediately after the intervention.
  • Practitioners (Educator, Hypnotherapist, Behavioral Practitioner, etc.):  $50 to $150.

Paying more may mean you end up working with a more competent professional, but not necessarily. Licensed (board certified) psychiatrists are medical doctors who have had some psychological training and can prescribe medication. Like many psychotherapists, psychiatrists usually broaden their knowledge with additional training. Therefore, they are at the higher end of the cost scale.

Addiction counselors or therapy interns are available at lower fees or sliding scale rates, especially at nonprofit clinics, churches, or graduate schools. Therefore, interns must be supervised by a licensed or certified professional.

There is another group of professionals that, although are often unlicensed and without certification, offer valuable services. They work under titles such as consultant, hypnotherapist, interventionist, practitioner, educator, etc. Their scope of practice is limited to specific disciplines like behavior, education, evaluation, etc.

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Success Rates for Addiction Recovery Depends on You!

Success Rates for Addiction Recovery

Success rates are more of a selling tool than a reality. Outcome studies on success rates are expensive and often biased.

For instance, the current staff of a program advertising a high success rate may not have been working at the program when the success rates statistics were gathered. It does appear that nutritionally-based programs have a higher success rate (claims of 80%) than other programs. Your success depends on you. When you start your recovery early in your addiction, you’ll suffer less and you’re more likely to be successful, with the exception of young adults. If you choose a quality approach, you’re also likely to be successful.

The most important factors for your success are:

  • Your belief that your approach can be effective for you and you can do it!
  • Your commitment that you will do your best.
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Wake Up and Thrive – Move beyond your addiction and become who and what you really want to be!