July 03, 2023 By Leah Malone

Are Spirituality and Religion Incorporated Into IOP Programs?


Spirituality and religion provide emotional healing for many women recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring mental health issues. Women of faith often rely on their beliefs to help them grow and move forward. According to the Journal of Religion and Health, “[M]ore than 84% of scientific studies show that faith is a positive factor in addiction prevention or recovery.” Emerge Recovery TX uses spiritual concepts and trauma-informed care to help women heal from mental health disorders and substance use. Existing spiritual beliefs are not required, but can provide a solid foundation for positive lifestyle changes during treatment and continuing care.

Relying on Spirituality and Religion During Early Recovery

Many people struggle during early recovery. The structured outpatient program, personal expectations, and new accountability might seem too much. However, some women find that belief in a higher power can transform their recovery experience and provide additional motivation. 

Every woman has her own beliefs about spirituality and religion. These beliefs come with life philosophies you can use to uplift your spirit during difficult moments. These philosophies can provide many benefits, including:

  • A pervasive sense of peace
  • Greater meaning and purpose in life
  • Fellowship with others of faith
  • A belief that everyone (including yourself) deserves grace

Spiritual beliefs are not necessary to successfully heal and thrive. However, women of faith may use spiritual or religious beliefs to reduce stress and increase self-confidence during early recovery. 

The Health Benefits of Incorporating Spirituality and Religion Into Treatment

Research published in the International Scholarly Research Network (ISRN) Psychiatry shows that a person’s spirituality and religion directly affect their mental and physical health. What’s more, your spirituality and religious beliefs will affect your treatment. For example, women with positive religious or spiritual experiences often see profound improvement in their mood and symptoms. However, women with negative spiritual or religious experiences may notice symptoms worsening over time. Below are a few examples of positive and negative religious experiences:

  • Positive experience: Belief in a benevolent higher power giving you a sense of peace
  • Negative experience: Belief in an authoritarian higher power making you feel punished
  • Positive experience: Accepting forgiveness from a higher power and the faith community
  • Negative experience: Feeling abandoned by a higher power or the faith community

You can avoid negative religious or spiritual experiences by using your resources and being mindful of your emotional reactions. It is essential to feel comfortable with your beliefs and faith before you rely on religion or spirituality to motivate recovery. A research review published in the World Journal of Clinical Cases stated, “Religious struggles were associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms and distress in all groups of patients.”

Reaching Out for Spiritual Support

If you have questions about your faith or require additional spiritual support, you can contact your religious leaders or speak to your therapist about your concerns. You don’t have to struggle alone. After all, fellowship and peer support are some of the primary benefits of spiritual engagement during early recovery. 

Do Spirituality and Religion Have a Place in IOP Programs?

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) provide a structured environment and support throughout each week. However, participants must find ways to motivate themselves to remain sober during the hours away from the treatment center. Some women rely on spirituality or religion to help them through those hours. According to Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, “Scientific literature strongly supports the notion that spirituality and religiousness can enhance health and [quality of life].”

Some common ways women choose to incorporate their faith into recovery include:

  • Joining support groups for women in recovery hosted by local religious or spiritual groups
  • Attending 12-Step meetings
  • Using faith as an inspiration and motivation for positive lifestyle changes
  • Spending social time with people within the recovery community who share similar religious interests

Personalized IOP programs incorporate a wide range of outside support resources, including community-based religious and spiritual practices when appropriate. Many women use 12-Step meetings to ease into continuing care. Make sure you collaborate with your care team to determine how to involve positive spiritual or religious experiences in your treatment and continuing care.

Using Your Faith to Move Forward in Long-Term Recovery

Emerge Recovery TX encourages women of faith to use religion or spirituality to build the foundation for a healthier future. The 12-Step philosophy used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other groups includes believing in a higher power. Many people of faith use aspects of the 12-Step philosophy in their treatment and continuing care to stay grounded.

You can rely on your faith in recovery by doing the following:

  • Using positive self-talk and practicing grace in your day-to-day life
  • Remembering you are never alone in any situation
  • Taking a moment to think of your values before making decisions

You can incorporate your faith-based leaders, friends, and social circles into your support system. In addition, you can find many recovery programs and community support groups that use faith in a higher power to motivate lasting change. Faith leaders in communities nationwide offer additional support and resources to women recovering from SUD. You can turn to these programs, organizations, and groups during and after your treatment in an IOP program. Furthermore, your care team can help you connect with resources in your area to complement your treatment plan.

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) offer a wide range of services and care options. While in an IOP, women of faith can incorporate their religious or spiritual beliefs into their treatment plans. Many find that faith leaders or fellowship groups become invaluable support systems during early recovery. Connecting with spiritual groups and practices has practical benefits as well. Research has shown that practicing faith positively improves treatment outcomes and reduces the risk of relapse. Having a belief in a higher power can motivate long-term lifestyle changes and continued self-development. Emerge Recovery TX encourages women of faith to rely on a higher power during treatment and continuing care. To learn more about our programs and services, call us today at (737) 237-9663.

About Author

Leah Malone

Learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings can be painful and disturbing at times. When Leah was able to see her behavior patterns and decided there was enough pain to be disturbed, she became motivated to make changes and accept the work that needed to be done to heal. She needed direction and had no clue how to heal on her own. Through a connection with God, authentic connection with others, honesty, willingness, and humility, Leah is now in recovery from addiction and trauma.

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