The role of faith, religion and spirituality in overcoming problematic substance use
Problematic substance use represents a significant issue within the UK in terms of its impact upon the psychological and physical well-being of individuals, their families and wider society. The current thesis considered the role of faith, religion and spirituality in overcoming problematic substance use. The current literature review considered the role of meditation, as an example of a spiritual practice, in overcoming problematic substance use. A range of theoretical rationale for the role of meditation are explored and empirical studies considering Transcendental and Mindfulness meditation examined. Some studies indicated an association between meditation and reductions in substance use; however, this has not been universal and firm conclusions are limited by methodological weaknesses. The current qualitative study sought to explore the role of faith/religion/spirituality in overcoming problematic substance use through semi-structured interviews with eight participants. A grounded theory approach generated a process model, which conceptualised the development of problematic substance use as a process of restriction and the journey of overcoming this as one of elaboration, including for some, the development of a pre-existing faith. The model appeared to reflect generic models of change, suggesting that there may be common pathways to change independent of the precise elements involved. Religion, faith and spirituality, including engagement with faith communities, appeared to offer a range of resources and address a number of functions previously served by substance use. Additionally, it appeared these factors countered potential vulnerability factors for substance use. A number of elements identified in the study may be more broadly applicable to clients overcoming problematic substance use, such as the development of meaning and purpose in life. The research process and the author's personal journey were reviewed. A significant issue for consideration was the author's perspective as a person of faith.