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How To Cope with Substance Abuse Addiction in Ramadan

Among Muslims, more than one in three people say they know a person who has or is struggling with addiction.1 Sadly, stigma surrounding substance use in the Muslim community can be a big barrier towards recovery.

This Ramadan, you or someone you know may be looking to cope with their addiction. Here are 4 helpful strategies to move closer towards recovery during this blessed month. 

1. Give Yourself A Head Start Before Ramadan

Abstaining from food and drink in Ramadan can impact your thoughts, feelings, and mood throughout the day. If you decide to stop using during fasting hours, these feelings can be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms, making it difficult to stay sober. Here are some things to consider:

Ramadan Article 2 Photos

It can be especially helpful to meet with an addictions counselor to address your symptoms. He/she can help you recognize and manage predictable withdrawal symptoms if you decide to reduce or stop using substances during Ramadan. Finding a mental health professional with substance use training can take up to a month or two, so start early to ensure that you have support during Ramadan.

2. Set Up A Healthy Support System

Ramadan is a time when people look forward to coming together, but the fear of being judged by others can keep you feeling lonely and isolated. This Ramadan, tap into a circle of support that will be there for you on the journey towards recovery.

How To Cope with Substance Abuse Addiction in Ramadan

Maybe being around certain people in your life can be a trigger for your use. If so, have a plan to minimize time spent around those individuals during Ramadan. If you don’t have someone to lean on, try joining a support group like Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Support groups can be a great way to receive support, encouragement, and comfort while learning new coping skills.

3. Set Realistic Ramadan Goals

When Islam came to the people of Mecca who drank alcohol plentifully, it did not start with abstinence. Instead, alcohol was forbidden in a series of three phases over the span of 17 years! [5] No matter how motivated you may be feeling about your recovery this Ramadan, abruptly stopping substance use may not be the best first step for you. Depending on the severity of your addiction, a cold-turkey approach can be more harmful and lead back to addiction.

To set safe and realistic goals for Ramadan, it’s important to work with someone who is trained to support you on the recovery journey.

How To Cope with Substance Abuse Addiction in Ramadan

While the benefits and blessings of Ramadan are incredible, realize that recovery may take months, years, and even decades – depending on the severity of the addiction. Ramadan might not be the month of complete recovery, but it can be a stepping stone towards leading a healthier lifestyle.

4. Apply Healthy Coping Behaviors

Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to substitute unhealthy coping mechanisms (i.e., using substances), with healthy coping behaviors. Here are some ideas:

How To Cope with Substance Abuse Addiction in Ramadan

5. Stay Hopeful When Dealing With Relapses

Recovery is a process – and it often includes relapses. But relapsing during a day of Ramadan while fasting can be harder than relapsing on any other day in the year. You may feel more shame for not only falling back into the addictive behavior, but for also breaking your fast. You may have negative feelings about yourself or question your sincerity as a Muslim because of your struggle with addiction.

How To Cope with Substance Abuse Addiction in Ramadan

Lastly, do a good deed immediately after relapsing. If you broke your fast, talk to a religious scholar to understand what you need to do to make up for breaking the fast. If you relapsed outside of fasting hours, donate to charity or pray a Sunnah (additional) prayer. Realize that how you deal with relapse is key to your recovery. If you deal with relapses in a constructive way, those small bumps in the road will only make you stronger and closer to recovery. Know that the process of overcoming our desires is a shared struggle for all Muslims, and this process is lifelong. As you cope with your addiction, remember that Allah (SWT) is All-Merciful; He knows that we are imperfect and runs to us when we walk to Him. This Ramadan, use these strategies to make strides towards your recovery. And know that there is reward in every step you take on this journey.

This article was written by Hanan Hashem, M.A. Ph.D. Candidate, Mariam Rasheed, LMSW, and Issra Killawi, B.A. It was reviewed by Madiha Tahseen, PhD.

References:

1. https://www.ispu.org/substance-abuse-and-addiction-in-the-muslim-community/

2. Abu-Ras, W., Ahmed, S., & Arfken, C. L. (2010). Alcohol use among US Muslim college students: Risk and protective factors. Journal of ethnicity in substance abuse, 9(3), 206-220

3. Verdurmen, J. E. E., Smit, F., Toet, J., van Driel, H. F., & van Ameijden, E. J. C. (2004). Under-utilization of addiction treatment services by heroin users from ethnic minorities: Results from a cohort study over four years. Addiction research & theory, 12, 285-209. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1606635042000210347

4. American Psychological Association. (2008, June). Genes matter in addiction. Monitor on Psychology. Retrieved March 21, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2008/06/genes-addict

5. Ali, M. (2014). Perspectives on drug addiction in Islamic history and theology. Religions, 5(3), 912-928.

This resource was funded in part with generous support from:

How To Cope with Substance Abuse Addiction in Ramadan

Blog Author:

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Hanan Hashem

Dr. Hanan Hashem is a Researcher and Community Educator at The Family and Youth Institute. Dr. Hanan Hashem is also an Assistant Professor in the Clinical Psychology Department at William James College in Boston, Massachusetts, where she specializes in teaching topics concerning cultural considerations in the field of psychology; lifespan development; psychopathology; and psychological research methods.

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Madiha Tahseen

Dr. Madiha Tahseen is the Research Director and a Community Educator at The Family and Youth Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research expertise is in positive youth development amongst Muslim-American youth, particularly focusing on the role of cultural and religious contexts in character development among minority populations.

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Issra Killawi

Issra Killawi is a Resource Development Manager with The Family and Youth Institute. She graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Apparel Design and a minor in Art. She has interned with The FYI previously and co-authored The FYI’s Marriage Prep Toolkit.

Guest Author:

- Mariam Rasheed, LMSW
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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).