Addiction affects you biologically, psychologically, socially and spiritually. For this reason, we use a holistic treatment approach—which tends to the mind, body and spirit. Spirituality and spiritual growth is essential in both addiction treatment and recovery. Recovery is supported by spirituality.
What is Spirituality?
“Spirituality is the experience and integration of meaning and purpose
in life through connectedness with self, others, art, music, literature,
nature or a power greater than oneself” (Smith). Spirituality is often a blanket term for religion and religious faith, though spirituality is different from religion. Religion follows religious texts, beliefs, and ideals while spirituality just comes from your soul. You decide your own beliefs, ideals, and values with spirituality.
Spirituality is essentially a connectedness and authenticity of self that provides meaning and purpose. The definition of the word “spirit” is “the nonphysical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character; the soul” (The Oxford Dictionary).
One of our favorite quotes by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
When actively in addiction, you are self-centered and exhibit self-seeking behavior. The features of your addiction become your own features, as you begin to operate from a place of fear, become secretive, you beat yourself up with shame and negative self-talk, put barriers up against intimacy, isolate and become fully disconnected.
Working to repair your relationship with yourself and a higher power is how you can overcome this past behavior, and evolve into the person you were truly meant to be. Who would you be if you never picked up a drug? With spirituality and personal growth, you can figure out what type of person you truly are, and work towards being the best version of that person.
What are the Factors of Spirituality?
The main factors of spirituality include: faith, hope, meaningful connection, purpose, forgiveness, acceptance, sense of belonging, relationships and community. Each of these factors influence and build up a person’s spirituality, and each can be enriched individually to create spiritual growth. Let’s take a look at what each of these factors mean in simple terms:
- Meaningful connection
- Sense of belonging
- Relationships and community
Knowing things will be okay
Believing that things will be okay
Feeling like you are a part of something, being linked to something, having intimacy.
Knowing that you are here for a reason.
Caring more about yourself, a person, or a relationship than you do about holding a resentment.
Knowing that you cannot control everything in life, and letting your vision of the bigger picture not be obstructed by ideas, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and actions that can detract from that.
Feeling a connection between you and this world, being secure in your role as someone valuable to other people, places, organizations, etc.
Feeling nurtured and nurturing to other people and those around you. This is where meaningful connection and sense of belonging come together.
In addiction recovery, these factors of spirituality are crucial to your ability to recover from drugs or alcohol. These spiritual principles are the foundation for a healthy and lasting recovery. In 12-step programs like Alcoholic’s Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, each step corresponds to a spiritual principle of recovery— making for a fulfilling recovery process. Some spiritual principles of recovery include: brotherly love, service, gratitude, and perseverance. Spiritual principles of recovery were adapted from the long list of spiritual principles of spirituality and religious faith, these common principles come from faith-based themes. These themes center around having a relationship with a higher power.
How Does Spirituality Help?
Spirituality and addiction recovery have a bilateral relationship, meaning both affect each other. The more spirituality, the stronger your recovery; the stronger your recovery, the more spiritual growth you can experience.
In the largest self-report study to date, on the topic of spirituality and substance abuse recovery, findings included that spirituality or religious faith accounted for benefits seen in recovering addict’s overall life perspective. The study conducted explored religious faith, spirituality, and mental health outcomes in 236 people and found that “… among recovering individuals, higher levels of religious faith and spirituality were associated with a more optimistic life orientation, greater perceived social support, higher resilience to stress, and lower levels of anxiety” (Pardini).
The more spiritual principles you practice, the better you feel. Spirituality will bring you a sense of peace and comfort in yourself, building up the confidence you have in your capabilities and ability to overcome any obstacles you may face.
Spirituality Defends Against Relapse
In a study posted in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, researchers looked at the correlation between level of spirituality and success in recovery, and found that “… recovering individuals have statistically greater levels of faith and spirituality than those continuing to relapse; also that relapsing individuals show significantly lower levels of spirituality than those in recovery” (Jarusiewicz).
In another study that collected data from people in recovery, findings included that ” The data suggests that persons in recovery often undergo life altering transformations as a result of embracing a power higher than one’s self, that is, a Higher Power. The result is often an intense spiritual journey that leads to sustained abstinence” (Green). Clearly, those recovering from a substance use disorder benefit greatly from nurturing their own spiritual connection with a higher power, which gives them access to more coping skills that will work to help them stay sober long term. We believe much of the success of 12-step programs of recovery comes from the spiritual aspect of their program, which is discussed in support groups and emphasizes the need to have faith in a higher power.
How to Make Spiritual Growth
Making spiritual growth is a process unique to you. For this reason, there is not clear-cut path to spiritual growth, however, we did put together a list of some things you could do to nurture your own spirituality:
- spiritual goal-setting
- choose a spiritual principle to practice each day
- explore things that bring meaning into your life
- volunteer in your community through our community involvement resources
- practice mindfulness
- write down a list of what spirituality means to you
- join a 12-step program of recovery
- get involved in a spiritual community (i.e. refuge recovery, local spiritual organizations, churches, etc.)
Through out addiction recovery, you will transcend. You will be able to shed your negative belief systems, views, thoughts or feelings, and reach new levels of contentment, peace, optimism, and meaning. The way you transcend is by making spiritual growth. Spiritual growth will help you evolve from discontentment to reaching a sense of peace and serenity. Through growing spiritually, you will also restructure your understanding of you purpose in life, allowing that idea to grow with you.
People in recovery often describe their own experiences with spirituality as a spiritual awakening— a spiritual awakening can be a moment of absolute clarity, a sign, or it could even be a white-light intense moment of religion and/or spirituality. Recovery requires willingness, which includes a willingness to explore types of spirituality and the idea of a higher power. We believe that every person is already wired to be spiritual, and there is a perfect type of spirituality that works for us, we just have to be open and willing to find out what that is.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to our addiction specialists for guidance and support, at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.
Green , Lesley L. et al.
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment , Volume 15 , Issue 4 , 325 – 331, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0740-5472(97)00211-0
Jarusiewicz, Betty. “Spirituality and Addiction,” Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 18:4, 99-109, 2000, DOI: 10.1300/J020v18n04_08
Pardini, Dustin A, et al. “Religious Faith and Spirituality in Substance Abuse Recovery: Determining the Mental Health Benefits.” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Pergamon, 2 Feb. 2001, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740547200001252
Smith, Linda L. “‘Remembering to Feed Our Spirits.’” Intervention Project for Nurses, Resources- Spirituality and Health/Recovery, 2016, www.alternativeprograms.org/resources/conf2016/material/lsmithpdf.pdf
“Spirit.” The Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1992.