Spiritual/Religious Experiences and In-Treatment Outcome in an Inner-City Program for Heroin and Cocaine Dependence

Adrienne Heinz, David H. Epstein, Kenzie L. Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Although spirituality is an integral component of some of the most popular approaches to substance abuse treatment, there is little empirical evidence for a causal relationship between spirituality and treatment success. In the present study, 169 (121 male) opiate- or cocaine-abusing treatment seekers completed the Index of Spiritual Experience (INSPIRIT), a questionnaire that assesses both spirituality and religiosity. Responses were analyzed in terms of demographic variables and in-treatment outcome, which was determined by treatment retention and drug screens from observed biweekly urine collections. Religious/spiritual beliefs were common in these participants and were associated with in-treatment outcome: total INSPIRIT score was weakly correlated (r =.16, p <.04) with number of subsequent cocaine-negative urines, and participants reporting that they frequently spent time on religious/spiritual activities showed significantly better outcomes in terms of subsequent drug use and treatment retention. Women and Mrican Americans were more likely than men and non-Arican Americans to report religious and spiritual beliefs or experiences on several individual items, and Mrican Americans had higher INSPIRIT scores than Caucasians. The results suggest that spiritual and religious experience plays a role in substance abuse recovery and that demographic characteristics should be considered in the design of spiritually oriented behavioral interventions for addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of psychoactive drugs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Addiction
  • Religion
  • Spirituality
  • Substance abuse
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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