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Westermeyer J, Bourne P. 1978. Treatment outcome and the role of the community in narcotic addiction. Journal of Nervous Mental Disorders 166:51-58.
Westermeyer J, Phaobtong T, Neider J. 1988. Substance use and abuse among mentally retarded persons: A comparison of patients and a survey population. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 14(1):109-123.
Large numbers of substance abusers seek relief in a variety of spiritual, religious, ethnic, and nontraditional treatments and programs. Acupuncture, one example of this category, has been addressed elsewhere in this report. Students of addiction, such as Galanter, have described the potent influence of religious influence on the lives of those affiliating with religious groups (Galanter and Westermeyer, 1980). Of interest, active substance abuse and religious practice tend to be inversely related (Westermeyer and Walzer, 1975). Certain modern treatments for addiction, such as the "anonymous" self-help groups, have their bases in religious movements (Johnson and Westermeyer, 1997).
So far, most studies in this area have focused on descriptions (Jilek, 1976; Westermeyer, 1988). Several qualitative and anecdotal reports have documented religious affiliation as a successful means of recovering from substance abuse (Kearny, 1970). A few studies have shown the feasibility of studying addiction treatment in religious settings (Westermeyer, 1980). In one quasi-experimental comparison of a religion-based program versus a medically based program for opiate addicts in Asia, the religion-based program had a higher mortality during opiate withdrawal; but follow-up failed to show differences between abstinence rates between the two therapies (Westermeyer and Bourne, 1978). In the latter study, community factors (e.g., community cohort treatment, a clinician or mentor committed to the addict's sobriety) were potent correlates of abstinence in both groups. More such studies are needed in a variety of settings in order to establish those dimensions of such interventions that may be efficacious in abating drug misuse, abuse, and dependence.
Galanter M, Westermeyer J. 1980. Charismatic religious experience and large-group psychology. American Journal of Psychiatry 137(12):1550-1552.