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While certainly widely utilized in the recovery community, prayer, until recently, had yet to be really investigated scientifically as a method of supporting one’s sobriety.

NYU Takes a Closer Look

In a recent study at New York University, Dr. Mark Galanter brought in longstanding members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to find out exactly what happens when they use prayer as a tool for recovery. The subjects were shown images considered to induce cravings for alcohol, and then were asked to recite a prayer. Not only did the subjects who recited prayer following the images report less desire to drink than control subjects, but remarkably, their brain scans supported the effect of the prayer.

MRI Scans Show Prayer’s Effectiveness

MRI scans of the subjects showed increased activity in the areas of the brain responsible for attention and emotion processing. Dr. Galanter reported that, “This finding suggests that there appears to be an emotional response to alcohol triggers, but that it’s experienced and understood differently when someone has the protection of the AA experience.” While there are countless anecdotal experiences supporting the effectiveness of 12-step programs, this study provides scientific evidence as to the use of prayer in supporting a program of recovery.

To see the original study, click here.

If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, call the treatment professionals at 1-800-203-2024 for a free confidential assessment.