Pastoral Psychology

, 58:315 | Cite as

The Frequency of Prayer, Meditation and Holistic Interventions in Addictions Treatment: A National Survey

  • Paul E. PriesterEmail author
  • Josh Scherer
  • Jesse A. Steinfeldt
  • Asma Jana-Masri
  • Terri Jashinsky
  • Janice E. Jones
  • Cher Vang


This study examines the prevalence of endorsing the twelve step approach and the use of prayer, meditation, and holistic techniques in a national sample of 139 substance abuse treatment centers. Ninety one percent of the programs endorsed a twelve step orientation. Twenty six percent of the programs actively used prayer and 58% used meditation as a component of treatment. Thirty three percent of the programs used some form of a self-designated holistic technique. There was a divergent range of techniques that were used by programs, falling into four broad categories: (1) nutrition, exercise, relaxation and physical health; (2) recreation and adventure-based activities; (3) religious and spiritual practices; and (4) the use of specific therapy modalities.


Addictions Prayer Meditation Holistic techniques Twelve step program 


  1. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services (1990). Daily reflections. New York: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Alterman, A. I., Koppenhaver, J. M., & Mulholland, E. (2004). Pilot trial of the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation for substance abuse patients. Journal of Substance Use, 9, 259–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benson, H. (1975). The relaxation response. New York: Morrow.Google Scholar
  4. Canter, P. H. (2003). The therapeutic effects of meditation. British Medical Journal, 326, 1049–1050.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carlson, C. R., Bacaseta, P. E., & Simanton, D. A. (1988). A controlled evaluation of devotional meditation and progressive relaxation. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 16, 362–368.Google Scholar
  6. Carroll, S. (1993). Spirituality and purpose in life in alcoholism recovery. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 54, 297–301.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Day, E., Wilkes, S., & Copello, A. (2003). Spirituality is not everyone’s cup of tea for treating addiction. British Medical Journal, 326, 881.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hawkins, M. A. (2003). Section I: Theory and review. Effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation program in criminal rehabilitation and substance abuse recovery: A review of the research. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, Special issue: Transcendental Meditation in Criminal Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention, 36, 47–65.Google Scholar
  9. Hazelden Meditation (1996). Twenty four hours a day. Center City, MN: Author.Google Scholar
  10. Heiler, F. (1932). Prayer: a study in the history and psychology of religion. Oxford, England: Oxford.Google Scholar
  11. Herbert, J. (2003). Recovery and the rehabilitation process: A personal journey. Rehabilitation Education, 17, 125–131.Google Scholar
  12. Johnsen, E. (1993). The role of spirituality in recovery from chemical dependency. Journal of Addictions and Offender Counseling, 13, 2.Google Scholar
  13. Kissman, K., & Maurer, L. (2002). East meets West: Therapeutic aspects of spirituality in health and addiction recovery. International Social Work, 45, 35–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kus, R. J. (1995). Prayer and meditation in addiction recovery. In R. J. Kus (Ed.), Spirituality and chemical dependency (pp. 101–115). New York: Harrington Park Press.Google Scholar
  15. Matthews, C. A., Glidden, D., & Hargreaves, W. A. (2002). The effect on treatment outcomes of assigning patients to ethnically focused inpatient psychiatric units. Psychiatric Services, 53, 830–835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. O’Connell, D. F., & Alexander, C. N. (1994). Introduction: Recovery from addictions using Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi Ayur-Veda. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 11, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Priester, P. E. (2000). Varieties of spiritual experience in support of recovery from cocaine dependence. Counseling & Values, 44, 107–113.Google Scholar
  18. Ratner, E. (1988). A model for the treatment of lesbian and gay alcohol abusers. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 5, 25–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Rioux, D. (1996). Shamanic healing techniques: Toward holistic addiction counseling. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 14, 59–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Slaght, E., Lyman, S., & Lyman, S. (2004). Promoting healthy lifestyles as a biopsychosocial approach to addictions counseling. Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education, 48, 5–16.Google Scholar
  21. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2005). Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 1993-2003. Rockville, MD: Author.Google Scholar
  22. Washington, O. G., & Moxley, D. P. (2001). The use of prayer in group work with African American women recovering from chemical dependency. Families in Society, 82, 49–59.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul E. Priester
    • 1
    Email author
  • Josh Scherer
    • 1
  • Jesse A. Steinfeldt
    • 1
  • Asma Jana-Masri
    • 1
  • Terri Jashinsky
    • 1
  • Janice E. Jones
    • 2
  • Cher Vang
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Adult LearningNorth Park UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Cardinal Stritch UniversityMilwaukeeUSA

Personalised recommendations