By Staff Writer
Many drug addiction treatment facilities feature 12 step programs that place a strong emphasis on the important role finding religion plays in beating addiction. While this may turn off some addicts, including agnostics and atheists, a new study has found that religion may not play such a vital role in these programs after all.
A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School followed more than 1,500 drug and alcohol addicts as they progressed through a 12 step drug rehab program. They asked the participants about their spirituality at several points during treatment.
The researchers found that, while spirituality tended to increase over time in those who attended these meetings, it was not a necessary part of recovery. Agnostics and atheists who showed no increase in spirituality during the course of the study recovered at the same rate as more religious participants.
The lead author of the study speculated that the change in a social network that results from 12 step programs may be among the greatest benefits for addicts. Additionally, these programs may help individuals learn better coping skills and provide them with the motivation that may prevent a relapse.