The Salvation Army's Position on Alcohol and Drugs
The Salvation Army accepts that many drugs beneficial to health can produce addiction. Only the physician can weigh the advantages and the risks attendant on their prescription for each patient.
The deliberate misuse of any drugs to induce either oblivion or hallucinatory states is condemned. The physical, mental and emotional disturbances due to such misuse are well known to Salvation Army personnel, who will continue to offer treatment to the victims of addiction, realizing that such practices stem from deep emotional and spiritual problems and are peculiarly common in young persons.
By far the most common drug addiction is to alcohol, and this addiction is on the increase in most parts of the world. The Salvation Army, recognizing both spiritual and temporal dangers inherent in the use of alcoholic beverages, has historically required total abstinence of its soldiers and officers. While not condemning those outside its ranks who choose to indulge, it nevertheless believes total abstinence to be the only certain guarantee against overindulgence and the evils attendant on addiction.
We believe that there exists a direct connection between the incidence of addiction and the easy availability of alcoholic beverages and the increasing social acceptance of their consumption. We are, therefore, active in supporting legislation likely to reduce the consumption of alcohol.
While attitudes toward both the cause and treatment of alcoholism have changed radically in the past 100 years, The Salvation Army, which maintains large treatment programs in many parts of the world, still believes that total abstinence is the only successful course open to an addict. Its programs use the best of medical and psychological treatment, but realizing that, in most instances, profound social and moral issues are involved, they draw on a long experience in social rehabilitation in which the power of God unto salvation has proved the most effective agent of character change and therefore the most effective force in rehabilitation.
Recommended for approval by the Commissioners' Conference November 1971
Approved by International Headquarters May 1982