Addiction recovery is always a personal journey. After all, if there were a prescribed path that would take someone from addiction to sustained recovery every time, everyone would use it. Although the path each person takes toward recovery is personalized and often uncharted, there are guides and signposts along the way. That is where many 12-step programs come into the picture.

Some people are turned off by 12-step programs, thinking they try to force “religion” on people to get them to stop using addictive substances. For many people, the “higher power” that is part of the 12 steps is God, but for many others, it is not. One advocate of the 12-step process that you might not expect is someone who would not strike many people as particularly religious, Russell Brand.

For Brand, spirituality is credited with much of his recovery from addiction to heroin and alcohol, but he is hardly a Bible-thumper. A higher power may be something non-religious, like “family,” or “a better human race.” What is important is the commitment to follow the program consciously, according to Brand.

The Conscious Program or the Unconscious Program?

Everyone is “following a program” whether one realizes it or not. Even not caring and ignoring consequences is a “program.” It just does not get the results you need to become and stay healthy. Brand puts it this way in an interview with People magazine:

“When you’re not working a program consciously you’re working an unconscious program – the program of your childhood, the program of your culture, the program of your media.”

Life presents choices constantly, and it can be overwhelming. William James said:

“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” 

Making the right choice over and over again can be exhausting, particularly during the process of addiction recovery. That is why it is crucial to have the support of trained addiction specialists as you make the choice that leads to recovery.

Learning to Negotiate with Your Feelings

Brand, who has been sober for 14 years, found that meditation helped him tremendously, describing it as “negotiation with your feelings.” The very idea of negotiating with feelings establishes that your feelings and thoughts may be things you have, but they are not you. You are not your thoughts, and you are not your feelings, yet you may allow them to rule over you and permit you to make poor choices.


Addiction recovery has many facets, and one of them is learning what triggers cravings for addictive substances and learning how to cope with those triggers in healthier ways. Learning how to be in recovery is a long-term process, and attending 12-step meetings (which most people have access to every day) is a practical way to learn how to negotiate with feelings and triggers and how to make a series of choices that lead you a bit further away from substance abuse.

Cause for Hope Amid Despair

Pain can be unremittingly cruel, and it can be a signal that something must change. The possibility of change, starting with this moment, alone is cause for hope. Addiction is far more than bad choices or a bad habit. It is a life-altering illness that can be fatal, and that is why teams of medical, mental health, and addiction specialists are involved in addiction recovery programs.

Ultimately you are the one who will have to make each sequential choice that will lead you away from addiction toward a sustained recovery. You do not have to do it alone. Admitting you need help feels almost impossible sometimes, but it is the first and most critical step in addiction recovery.

Spirituality is about how you fit into a huge and diverse world and the unique perspective that only you can bring to this world. Knowing that you are part of something bigger than yourself can often be the fuel that keeps you going in the direction of recovery. If you are struggling with substance abuse and are ready to seek help, we encourage you to learn more about our admissions. We are ready for your call at any time.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.