Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. | Hebrews 11 (KJV)
An April 23 study commissioned by Drugfree.org found that more teens than ever are abusing prescription drugs. According to the researchers’ findings, one in four teenagers in America have misused or abused a prescription drug which represents a 33 percent increase over the past five years.
Interestingly, not all mental health providers use traditional, academic-based therapy. Many drug rehabilitation centers in the U.S. use faith-based treatments to help individuals recover from substance abuse and restore a patient’s mental health.
Is faith the world’s most powerful placebo?
The 12-step program for Alcoholics Anonymous famously includes a recognition that “a higher power . . . can give strength” and help a drug or gambling addict cope and rehabilitate to a healthier lifestyle. In Phoenix, the faith-based Teen Challenge Men’s Center helps young individuals overcome their struggles with drugs by using strict discipline and religious faith.
Reverend Jim Moyer operates the program and cites Hebrews 11:1 which defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” According to Moyer, “when we hope for something that has not happened yet, we bring substance to the word faith. Substance, in the Greek translation, means a setting under or support.”
To change themselves, the addicts convert themselves by doing chores and waking up at 6 a.m. Just like in a military boot camp, they share a room with five other boys. Early in the morning, participants of the program read the bible and conduct meditative prayers several times a week. They also jog in the wee hours of the morning when many of their teenage peers are just groggily getting out of bed. The program lasts for five months.
Treatment outside of hospitals, including specialized centers such as the secular Bridges To Recovery, is the preferred method of recuperation for many individuals. Hospital inpatient rates are lower, although that can be the result of expensive costs associated with medical institutions across the country.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. | Martin Luther King, Jr.
Placebo vs. False Claims
Yet others, prefer the quieter and individualized methods such as faith-based rehabilitation. There are places where psychologists and pharmacists take a back seat to good old prayer and faith as a means for personal restoration.
In developing countries, faith-healing is a centuries-old practice that many argue produces positive placebo effects. In the West, faith-healing is considered a primitive heritage from the past. The pharmacological industry, which stands to lose some market share, disputes the unscientific approaches of religion and/or “mystic” therapies.
What is unexplainable should not work. Yet it does work. In studies across research labs throughout the world, the same is true of drug placebo effects. Academics, medical practitioners, and scientists recognize that there are placebo effects. However, it’s tough to sell products and services to a marketplace by making false claims.
In effect, governments have helped to secularize society by discouraging faith-based placebo effects when it comes to treatment and rehabilitation. Consumers are ushered within the confines of drug prescriptions. A patient is told that she has a 70 percent chance of dying from stage 3 cancer. She processes the doctor’s dire prediction and the internalized thought processes manifests the prediction. She dies from self-manifestation of bad advice. The no-cebo effect.
If faith improves the outlook of a patient, the body produces powerful chemicals that heals and restores the body. Pharmacists and psychologists often need to be reminded that they don’t possess a monopoly on healing.
Copyright 2013 Marv Dumon