Muslim Attitudes on Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Rehab
The Islamic or Muslim religion has principles which restrict the use of harmful substances in the body. Some include moderation, peace, self-awareness, spiritual awareness, prayer, and self-discipline. In living a life full of such principles, the individual can form a strong bond with Allah, or God, and feel very little need to engage in substance abuse. They can also follow the rules of Islam, as they prohibit intoxication by both alcohol and opiates. Despite these prohibitions, many followers of Islam suffer from substance abuse issues and would greatly benefit from Muslim drug and/or alcohol rehab.
Rates of drug and alcohol abuse in Islamic groups are often lower than other groups. The Quran is the holy book of Islamic people and provides harm-reducing scriptures for followers. Many of the scriptures reflect purification and the “preservation and protection of the dignity of man.” These yield personal accountability for health and religious attitudes discouraging partaking in the sins of the world.
In addition to spiritual ideals, physical purity, and moderation, there are unique cultural values Muslims uphold. However, Muslims from other countries, in particular conservative Muslim-majority countries may have more stigmas surrounding substance abuse compared to American Muslims, creating different attitudes, tolerances, and intolerances to drug and abuse.
Because of the intense stigma that many Muslims associate with substance abuse, many take great pains to hide their issues from friends and family. Some Muslims not only fear personal embarrassment, but also that shame will come to their loved ones. It is particularly difficult for many Muslims to seek treatment at a drug or alcohol rehab facility, due to the public nature of an admission of a problem. However, addiction is a disease which is impacted by biological, social, and environmental factor, and it requires treatment like any other disease. In particular, treatment at an inpatient or outpatient rehab program offers patients the greatest likelihood of achieving sobriety and maintaining sobriety.
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Muslim Substance Abuse Statistics and Practices
Partially due to the stigma many Muslims attach to substance abuse, there have been comparatively few studies of substance abuse in the community, and participants may be more likely to conceal any issues. According to recent data, the rate of substance abuse in the Muslim community in Chicago was only 4%. However, international surveys reveled a shocking 44% of Muslim students indulging in alcohol in Lebanon. Location and environment can determine the rate of substance abuse disorders among Muslim communities.
Another study by Mansur Ali noted Muslims abstained from drugs and alcohol for religious reasons and shame and guilt. The communal disapproval of substance abuse, personal discipline, and respect for the Quran were also strong factors. This religious reverence upholds the sacredness of the Islamic religion, allowing treatment to include prayer and religious practices for healing.
Mental Disorders in the Muslim Community
Mental disorders and substance abuse disorders are often linked, referred to as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. In the United States and Europe, mental disorders in the Muslim community often occur due to Islamophobic attitudes or minority stress. A Chicago survey noted Muslims endure a higher than average rate of adjustment disorders, at 43%. Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders ranked at 14% to 15%.
Many Muslims turn to God to seek peace though prayer and community. Members of the Islamic community can perceive mental illness into a spiritual disorder, a result of demonic possession, or symptom of spiritual disconnection. To offset this, Islamic individuals can seek to heal in spiritual ways. The end result is the belief in Islamic spirituality and religious practice can be the intervention needed to curb chemical dependence.
Millati Islami is a 12-Step program designed for Muslims. The group began in 1989 in Baltimore, with foundations in Islam. This program was similar in the 12-steps, but is more religious rather than serial in its context. The 12-Steps of Millati Islami include:
- We admitted that we were neglectful of our higher selves and that our lives have become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that Allah could and would restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to submit our will to the will of Allah.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to Allah and to ourselves the exact nature of our wrongs.
- In asking Allah for the right guidance, we became willing and open for change, ready to have Allah remove our defects of character.
- We humbly ask Allah to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of persons we have harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- We sought through Salaat (prayer) and Iqraa (reading) to improve our understanding of Taqqwa (love and respect for Allah) and Ihsan (although we cannot see Allah, he can see us).
- Having increased our level of Iman (faith) and Taqqwa, as a result of applying these steps, we carried this message to humanity and began practicing these principles in all our affairs.
Although Millati Islami is a critical tool for achieving and maintaining sobriety, it is most likely to be successful when accompanied by other forms of treatment, including therapy, counseling, and medications. For this reason, Muslims who are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse are strongly encouraged to attend a treatment program at a rehab facility.
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What to Consider as a Muslim Seeking Drug or Alcohol Rehab
Muslims should consider treatment that includes faith-based practices. This allows him or her to access familiar principles they can use to heal underlying problems, while connecting with individuals of the same faith. Re-connecting to religious beliefs can create a core identity outside of traditional treatment settings, focusing on cultural and religious needs.
Finding faith-based Islam-focused treatment leaders and treatments encourages compassion and open dialogue, and better understanding of the needs of each patient. Islamic-based treatment allows patients to upheld religious traditions (fasting, prayers, etc.) while using traditional treatments (medication, nutritional plans, etc.).
Some Muslims may also prefer non-faith based treatment options, and there is nothing wrong with that. The most important thing is that each individual finds the treatment option that works for them.
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