You are here

Back one level

Alcohol and Harmful Substances

Salvation Army soldiers commit themselves to abstaining from the use of alcoholic drink or of drugs except when medically prescribed.

Biblical principles

Alcohol and other addictive drugs can be harmful to individuals, families and society. Salvationists (*) are mindful that, while certain lifestyle choices may be legally and socially acceptable, some choices may be neither helpful to the person concerned, nor to those likely to be influenced by their actions (1 Corinthians 8:9, NIV).

The Salvation Army, as a Christian Church and social welfare agency, believes that human beings are created in the image of God and that therefore the body should be treated with respect  (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV). Accordingly, The Salvation Army promotes the welfare of the body, as well as the mind and spirit.

Negative effects

The possible negative effects of the use of alcohol and other harmful substances include the following:

  • impaired health from both mental and physical harm;
  • financial loss;
  • the break-up of families;
  • loss of employment;
  • expenditure on health and social care;
  • crime;
  • violence.

Practical responses

  • In the “Soldier’s Covenant”, signed upon joining The Salvation Army, soldiers of The Salvation Army accept for themselves a drug and alcohol free life style. The Salvation Army accepts the use of drugs when medically prescribed.

The Salvation Army does not condemn or discriminate against people who use alcohol or other addictive substances, but it believes that abstinence allows its members to have an effective ministry among those for whom drugs and alcohol are a problem.

The Salvation Army’s requirement of abstinence on the part of its members should not deter other people from feeling welcome in its places of worship, or at any public or private function organised by The Salvation Army.  

  • Through its specialised addiction treatment services, programmes of community care, residences and worship centres, The Salvation Army aims to offer a safe and supportive environment and promotes an alcohol and drugs-free lifestyle.
  • The Salvation Army deplores the advertising of alcoholic drinks, and the marketing of soft drinks with alcoholic content, particularly when aimed at young people.
  • It welcomes increased public awareness of the dangers of alcohol and of driving vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It endorses “Don’t drink and drive” campaigns and also encourages adequate provision of non-alcoholic drinks at formal and social occasions. 

(*) In this instance, 'Salvationists' refers to Salvation Army soldiers, who commit themselves to a lifestyle without the use of addictive substances.

Approved by International Headquarters
October 2005

  • You can read more about this topic here.