Evidence-based Christian addictions recovery tools launched in West Africa

Evidence-based Christian addictions recovery tools launched in West Africa

From April 16th to 19th 2024, 36 men and women working in the addictions/recovery field across sectors in West Africa (mainly Nigeria) met in Lagos to be trained in evidence-based Christian Addictions Prevention and Early Intervention resources from GROW – Global Resilience Oral Workshops. Five months earlier, a team of ISAAC members from Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, the USA and UK came together online to pray, ponder and plan towards training key leaders in West Africa. The result was the launch of the first GROW Training Conference in West Africa, facilitated by ISAAC members.

The delegates ranged from church-based pastoral workers, frontline addictions counsellors, people in recovery themselves, and several representatives from the Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

What did they learn?

Global Resilience Oral Workshops (GROW) is a novel evidence-based program which teaches resilience and recovery through Bible storytelling and positive psychology exercises. Participants of this Training Conference learned how the two courses, GROW Strong (Prevention) and GROW Free (Early-intervention treatment) works and were initiated into how to run groups, running through the course content themselves. GROW’s International Master Trainers, Mr. Lameck Kasanga Kasanga and Mr. Lazalous Mulanaga brought the curriculum to participants with enthusiasm and energy over the course of the four days.

More about GROW:

Dr. J. Paul Seale and Dana McDaniel Seale are Co-Founders of GROW. Dr. J. Paul Seale is a physician and researcher with board certification in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine while Dana McDaniel Seale is the author of the GROW Strong Curriculum and Co-founder of Global Resilience Oral Workshops.

The Training Conference was sponsored by GROW Ministries International and by AIRO Healthcare, Inc. Through AIRO, GROW provided lodging, meals and training materials for all participants.

Why focus on ‘resilience’ for prevention among young people through GROW Strong?

 Resilience is correlated with lower depression, lower anxiety, lowered impulsive behavior, lower offending criminal behavior, lower alcohol use and lower drug use. Dana shares, “One of the most hopeful findings in recent years is that resilience is a learnable skill!

Approximately  90 percent of all adolescents in the world live in low and middle income countries. Although children appear to be able to absorb trauma better than adults, early childhood trauma is highly correlated with  alcohol problems, drug problems, mental health problems and violent behavior later in life.”

ISAAC’s Head of Strategy, Mitha Bleasdale shares: “The vast majority of our 200+ ISAAC Members across Africa work with young people. Africa is a ‘young’ continent by demographics. To work in addictions response in Africa equals working with young people”. GROW Strong’s Prevention training has been tailored to resonate with young people through song, dance and drama. The sessions are accessible and scalable being oral (not written) workshops.

How does the GROW Free Early Intervention Treatment program work?

GROW Free is a 6-month weekly 90-minute curriculum designed to help participants overcome problems related to alcohol and drugs,  build character strengths, and increase psychological resilience.Our groups meet in homes, community centers, churches, refugee camps, prisons, schools, and recovery centers.  There are now more than 1,500 groups in 17 countries on 3 continents.” shared Dr. Paul Seale

Response to training:

ISAAC Africa Lead, Ikenna Molobe said, “In speaking with our delegates, people are excited that this is the first Christian evidence-based program to come to West Africa. They can see the potential for this in their communities and will take this training back to their towns and cities to use in their situations.”

Other organizations that partnered in the planning of the Training Conference include Crowed Puller of Zambia and Unified Initiative for a Drug Free Nigeria. Amb. Chris Ibe (ISAAC West Africa Coordinator) from African Youths Initiative on Crime Prevention was the main facilitator in Lagos and the host of this Training Conference.


  1. United Nations. World Population Prospects 2017. New York: UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), Population Division; 2017
  2. https://rex.libraries.wsu.edu/esploro/outputs/doctoral/ADVERSITY-RESILIENCE-AND-CRIME-EXAMINING-THE/99900581419101842