Open Your Doors – Start A Substance Abuse Ministry

I received an interesting request to share information about starting a substance abuse ministry from a couple of readers who have read some of my recently published articles.

I know that there is an overwhelming demand for religious centered substance abuse programs in urban communities. Beyond requests for prayer or referrals, churches are seeking a better response to the outpouring of requests to help addicts in their congregation or community. Most of the demand is driven by the sheer volume of addicts and high risk behaviors leading to drug abuse.

Why a faith-based substance abuse ministry? It satisfies a spiritual void that most addicts are looking to fill. Unlike traditional approaches to substance abuse recovery, the faith-based substance abuse ministry connects religious approaches to tools toward recovery. Furthermore, there is a need.

Here is some information if you are looking to establish a substance abuse ministry.

Identify Your Target
Determine if you are going to focus on your congregants or include those outside the congregation. Knowing your target will help you shape your program design for one audience or two.

Set Clear Goals and Purpose
Having clear goals and purpose for the ministry are a must. Are you working with the individual or the individual and his or her family? Are you purposefully going to proselytize to non-believers? Your goals and purpose can be framed into your mission and philosophy statements.

Create A Belief Statement
The belief statement is the fundamental principle behind your substance abuse faith ministry. You can use the belief statement as an affirmation recited before every meeting.

Design An Orientation and Training Manual
You will need to have the ability to conduct orientations for participants and create training and recruiting tools to offer program facilitators.

Find Facilitators and Train Them
Look for people who are delivered from drug and alcohol addiction or have a heart for it. A person familiar with the recovery process will be best suited and will exhibit a passion for the calling. Orient and train them in the principles of the ministry and recovery services that will be offered to participants.

Advertise
Advertise that you are starting a recovery program. You can advertise many ways, in your church bulletin, using social media, or by placing a banner outside of your church. Once you advertise, people will come.

Set a Date
Establish a date and time for regular meetings. Most importantly, you must be consistent because participants are depending on you and will get into a habit of attending at a specified time and a place.

Hold a Meeting
Bask in the moment of knowing that you have created a successful substance abuse ministry. Holding a meeting is one of the most rewarding moments and accomplishments in your faith.

Share the Message
Once your substance abuse ministry is running successfully, spread the good news with others. Ministry is about sharing so that others can be brought into the body. Don’t keep it to yourself.

A word of advice is that a substance abuse ministry is more than a prayer. It is a connection to recovery using faith principles. If you want your substance abuse ministry to be successful, you will need dedication and devotion.

Substance Abuse Treatment Issues

Substance abuse treatment is the only real option for many people addicted to alcohol or drugs. Treatment can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis and there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of treatment. Some programs are restricted to alcohol or other drugs, while other programs incorporate both alcohol and drugs into the same program.

Inpatient substance abuse treatment is more intense than the outpatient programs. The inpatient program can last for 30 days or can extend indefinitely, depending on the funding of the patient. People live in a confined setting and are monitored for detoxification. They are often prevented from leaving the program and they attend group and individual therapy during the day. They may have recreational programs but these are not part of the actual treatment. Inpatients work hard on their issues and try to find out the underlying problems that have contributed to their substance use. If they graduate from this type of program, they often go to outpatient therapy, AA or NA programs.

Outpatient substance abuse treatment is appropriate for those who don’t expect to have any problems with detoxification and who have a strong family support. Many outpatient programs are day programs, with the bulk of the day spent in various group therapies, family therapies and sometimes individual therapies. AA or NA is often part of outpatient programs and the individual is encouraged to find a sponsor. Outpatient programs can last for up to a month as well but it depends on the program and the funding of the abuser.

Some substance abuse treatment is directed solely at those addicted to alcohol. Issues around detoxification are addressed and medication can be prescribed which lowers ones risk of drinking again. There are even medications that control the urge to drink. Alcoholics can come together to discuss issues related to their alcohol use and are encouraged to attend AA and find a sponsor. Many patients are asked to attend alcohol treatment by a judge after they were arrested for a DWI or DUI. A court ordered alcohol treatment doesn’t share the same success as voluntary treatment.

There are some who believe that narcotic substance abuse treatment should be separate from alcohol treatment because the issues are so different. Narcotic users can be given medication to help with cravings. Users of other drugs have their own issues with withdrawal and learning to stay away from drugs. Those who use drugs, particularly narcotics, can transition into NA as an outpatient to get as much support for staying clean as possible.

The goals of substance abuse treatment are (1) the detoxification of the patient from their drugs of choice, (2) managing withdrawal symptoms, (3) learning new coping methods around drug abuse and (4) reintegrating into society without drugs. If the person doesn’t have a stable living situation or has a lot of friends who use and abuse drugs or alcohol, it will be more difficult for the individual to recover completely from substance abuse. This is why inpatient therapy is sometimes better for those who don’t have the family or other support they need.

How to Stop Substance Abuse and Drug Addiction

Most people associate dangerous addiction with the use of illegal drugs, but substance abuse consists of any dangerous dependence, including alcoholism and reliance on prescription drugs. For centuries, substance abuse was regarded by society as a personal failing or moral fault, and addicts were shunned and forced to the fringes of the community. Substance abuse today is recognized as a disease, typified by the brain becoming reliant on certain substances to deliver neurotransmitters like dopamine or serotonin. Street drugs like marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines react with the brain in a similar way to legal addictives, such as alcohol, tobacco, and inhalants.

These substances all increase the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, resulting in various “highs,” drunkenness, or relaxation of the nerves and it is this rise in dopamine levels which is the root of substance abuse. As drug abusers, alcoholics, pill poppers or cigarette smokers continue to engage in substance abuse, their brains eventually lose the ability to produce critical neurotransmitters on their own. Because dopamine and similar neurotransmitters are responsible for feelings like pleasure, the drug user becomes dependent on the substance being abused which causes the intense cravings and feelings of addiction.

Fortunately for the victims of chemical dependency, societal attitudes towards addiction have softened and treatment programs for drug, alcohol, prescription pills or tobacco use are commonplace. Rehabilitation clinics strive to assist those suffering from substance abuse, helping them to cope with their cravings incrementally, and providing personal, psychological, and spiritual guidance through the recovery process. There are national substance abuse programs, such as the 12-step Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), psychiatric help, medicinal options and even loving support from friends and family can help addicts rid themselves of their dependencies.

People afflicted with substance addictions can rely on an extremely accessible network of meetings, found in almost every city or town in the country, which serve as a coping mechanism, a therapy session, and a confessional at the same time. Drug testing kits are now readily and cheaply available for home use to help stop the addictions privately. Substance abuse is worth the efforts being made to combat it, because the damage caused by addiction is extensive and far reaching. Almost every aspect of society, from the legal system and the medical field to families and schools, is touched in some way by the destructive power of substance abuse, and the battle to prevent dangerous addictions will always be one worth fighting.

Help put a stop to substance abuse and chemical dependency by interfering and impeding at the first signs of addiction. Openly talking to the individual about your concerns and the effects of their addiction is the first stride towards acceptance and recovery. Do not be afraid to drug test at the first signs of misuse. This is especially true of prescription pills abuse as many individuals do not view Oxycontin or Vicodin as habit forming because of a prescription.

There are many home drug tests that can uncover traces of harmful narcotics like Percocet and the mind altering diazepams Xanax or Valium. Alcohol breathalyzers and oral saliva testing kits are available to discover a hidden drinking habit. Regardless of the specific substance addiction, there are many options available to help stop the cycle of drug dependency.