Spirituality, drugs, and alcohol: A philosophical analysis

Robert Walker, Theodore M. Godlaski, Michele Staton-Tindall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Spirituality has long been associated with recovery from the socially constructed "addictive disease." Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its analogs have enjoyed widespread acceptance as a spiritual approach for achieving recovery. AA or its derivatives are the predominant approaches in treatment programs even though a wide array of evidence-based approaches are now promoted by governmental sources in the United States. This philosophical analysis contrasts the state of science about addictive disorders with the reliance on a spiritual approach that is heavily grounded in Christian theology. We present four problems that need consideration before accepting the applicability of 12-step spiritual practices as the backbone of addiction treatment or recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1233-1245
Number of pages13
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Project match: A fairly large experiment funded by the National Institute on Drug abuse and the National In-stitute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the United States to determine whether matching patients to spe-cific treatments based on patient characteristics im-proved treatment outcome. Results indicated that treat-ment matching did not seem to have significant effect on outcome.


  • Addiction
  • Recovery
  • Spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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