Spiritual direction in addiction treatment: two clinical trials. Academic Article uri icon


  • Spirituality has long been regarded as an important component of recovery from addiction. This article reports the findings of two controlled trials of spiritual direction as an adjunct in addiction treatment. In Study 1, 60 participants were randomly assigned to receive or not receive a 12-session manual-guided spiritual guidance (SG) intervention during and after inpatient treatment, in addition to treatment as usual (TAU). In Study 2, two cohorts of 40 each received TAU without or with SG during their inpatient stay. In both trials, contrary to prediction, SG had no effect on spiritual practices or substance use outcomes at any follow-up point. At the first follow-up in Study 1 only, those randomly assigned to spiritual direction unexpectedly showed significantly less improvement on depression and anxiety, relative to TAU controls. Limitations and implications for treatment are discussed.

publication date

  • December 2008