Text Size

Religious Recovery Site or a Cult

answered 12:18 AM EST, Tue July 30, 2013
anonymous anonymous
What’s the main difference between a respectable religious recovery organization and a cult? Lets say an organization wants a person to separate from and cut off contact from family and friends does that sound like a cult? Also, what if that person is encouraged to live on the organization’s compound and pay quite a lot each month to stay there for an indefinite length of time? Shouldn’t a recovery program have an ending where you go back to the real world? When family members question what’s going on they are said to be against recovery.

Rev. Christopher Smith Says...

Rev. Christopher Smith C. Smith

There are a number of criterion for a group to be considered a cult. Common use of the term includes being separated from family and friends with no or very limited contact, financial commitments and long term control of residency. Formal cult definition usually goes beyond this to include other characteristics of the group. These characteristics include a demand for strict adherence to the beliefs of the organization and a charismatic leader.


There are a number of ways to judge the respectability of a religious recovery organization. The first is to look at its purpose which should be centered on the people it serves rather than on the ones that are providing the service. The next is to judge the techniques that are used (comparing them to best practices around recovery) and evaluating the success rate of the treatment provided.


Generally, a goal of recovery will be to get the person to the point that they can resume their role in society. There are cases though where this return to society is not recommended to be in the same environment because of the temptations or problems that exist in that environment. This rarely involves a need for the person to remain in a controlled environment, although there are people who chose to work in the field after addressing their recovery. Family members should also understand that the recovery process will be a lifelong one for their family member, although the form of treatment and what is needed to maintain sobriety will change over time.


Most reputable programs involve patients who are using insurance to pay for their treatment. In these programs, there are often set lengths for the program with a fixed end point for the residential or inpatient portion of their stay. In contrast, other reputable programs, including some respectable religious recovery organizations, involve cash paying clients or patients. In these settings, the length of treatment can vary tremendously and is usually not predetermined at the beginning but is based on the progress made within the program. Some of these programs can be substantially longer than programs funded by insurance and extend a year or more in order to establish true habits of sobriety or abstinence. However, even these programs end up with an endpoint where the person receiving treatment leaves the more controlled environment.

Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category

Page last updated Jul 31, 2013

Counseling: Featured Experts
All Experts

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.

Find Treatment
Browse by region »
Scan to call us
using your phone camera app