Spirituality, Religiosity and Addiction Recovery: Current Perspectives

Curr Drug Res Rev. 2019;11(1):26-32. doi: 10.2174/1874473711666180612075954.


Substance use disorders are an important public health problem with a multifactorial etiology and limited effective treatment options. Within this context, spirituality-based approaches may provide interesting and useful options in managing substance use disorders. This kind of intervention can have positive effects in alleviating some core symptoms associated with substance use, such as aggressiveness. Improvement in cessation rates for alcohol, cocaine and opioid use disorders have also been described in some clinical studies. However, spirituality may not play a beneficial role in some subgroups, such as among individuals with crack cocaine and cannabis use disorders. A widely available intervention for alcohol use disorders is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which can be seen as a spirituality-based intervention. Spirituality also seems to be especially beneficial for minorities such as Latinos, African-Americans and Native-Americans. Moreover, spiritual-based interventions are also helpful alternatives in many rural environments where conventional healthcare for substance use disorders may not be easily available. However, spiritual-based interventions may be considered as a possible adjunctive therapeutic option to conventional treatments. There is a need for prospective studies outside U.S., especially where spiritual-based approaches are available. It may be difficult to carry out randomized controlled trials because of the nature of the spiritual/ religious dimensions. However, prospective studies that evaluate mediation effect of spirituality and religiosity on recovery would be helpful. Qualitative studies combined with quantitative design offer excellent options to evaluate the recovery process, especially among special populations.

Keywords: Spirituality; alcohol; alcoholics anonymous; cocaine; opioid; religiosity..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Humans
  • Religion*
  • Spirituality*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*