There’s much more to addiction than chemical dependence. Chemical dependence keeps the brain and body addicted to drugs or alcohol but if that’s all there was to addiction, there’d be no such thing as relapse. People addicted to drugs or alcohol could detox, and that would be the end of it.
Obviously, that’s not the case. For any number of reasons people go back to drugs and alcohol after days or years of sobriety, but why? There are many theories about addiction treatment, but many believe a spiritual component is critical to recovery. Without spirituality, people are much more likely to lose hope and relapse back to drug and alcohol addiction.
Those in early recovery will see the word spirituality often, but what is spirituality in recovery? In recovery, spirituality refers to tapping into the part of human existence that is outside of yourself. Spirituality involves reaching out to something bigger than yourself and exploring your relationship with the grand universe. It involves asking unanswerable questions or tapping into a new part of your brain and soul.
A physical detox will flush your body of all toxins and counseling can help you recover emotionally but there’s more to a person than their body and mind, there’s also the spirit that needs treatment.
Let’s learn more about the importance of spirituality in recovery including the difference between spirituality and religion, the holistic approach to recovery, and ways to boost spirituality for a higher chance at lifelong sobriety.
Religion vs Spirituality
If you’re agnostic or atheist how can you tap into a spiritual side without a belief in a God? People first walking into the 12 step rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) might be thrown off by all the mentions of God and a higher power but AA is not to be confused with a religious program.
The key phrase is 12-step texts is ‘God, as we understood him.’ AA recognizes that everyone has different views, beliefs, and not everyone subscribes to religion. You don’t have to believe in a Hindu deity or Judeo-Christian God to explore your spiritual side. Your concept of a higher power can be very different from the person sitting next to you at a meeting and that’s a good thing. It doesn’t matter exactly what your higher power is, since the idea behind finding a higher power and tapping into your spiritual side is to help you get outside yourself.
Let’s face it if you could get yourself sober – you would have already done it. 12-step meetings encourage recovering alcoholics and addicts to find something outside of themselves they can put their faith into. A common joke in 12-step rooms is making your higher power a door knob, if your trust that doorknob. You don’t need to subscribe to any certain religion for spiritual progress, you just need to put your faith in something.
Holistic Approach to Recovery
Early detox centers were only about flushing the body of drugs or alcohol than sending the recoveree out into the world. Next came psychological healing, with several types of counseling like CBT. Recently, detox and treatment centers have implemented a holistic approach to recovery, which links the physical, emotional, and spiritual sides of the recovering addict.
A holistic approach believes that all parts of the person are interconnected. What affects one part affects the other. Your lack of exercise will also decrease your mood and slow your spiritual progress. Having coffee with a good friend can boost your emotional level, which can make you more motivated to exercise or meditate.
In a holistic approach, treatment centers use a combination of physical detox, emotional support through counseling, and spiritual support through 12-step meetings, mediation, and other practices. A holistic approach is an excellent approach to drug and alcohol treatment in Ohio.
Ways to Boost Spirituality in Recovery
Gratitude – A grateful addict is a growing addict. Expressing gratitude in recovery involves giving thanks for everyday gifts like a sunrise, making a daily list of five things you’re grateful for, and using mindfulness to truly appreciate the world around you.
Mediation / Mindfulness – Meditation and mindfulness have only recently crept into Western culture but have been practiced for hundreds of years. Meditation involves a series of exercises that focus on breathing and clearing your mind while mindfulness involves looking for all the beautiful details that make life so beautiful.
There are many great online resources for learning proper mediation and mindfulness techniques as well as several great books. Chances are good that your local AA meeting library will have books on both meditation and mindfulness.
Religion – You don’t have to be religious to tap into the spiritual part of yourself. Those in recovery may go back to the religion they practiced before becoming addicted while others might seek out a new faith. If you can use religion as a tool to boost your spirituality you should take advantage of it.
Give Back – Volunteering your time and resources for someone else is one of the best ways to get outside yourself. You can do community work for your 12-step homegroup or find other ways to volunteer your energy and time.
Attending 12-Step Meetings – 12-step meetings focus on your spiritual side. They’re a good exercise for expanding your spirituality in recovery. Addicts early in sobriety are encouraged to attend 90 12-step meeting in their first 90 days of sobriety.
Getting Spiritual in Your Recovery
Never underestimate the importance of spirituality in recovery. You don’t have to be religious to explore your spiritual side. Some choose to use religion as their spiritual conduit. No matter how you tap into your spiritual side, you will see improvements on your mindset and recovery. If you’ve been missing something in your recovery try turning to your spiritual side.