The benefits of spirituality in addiction recovery are many. Each person’s expression of spirituality is unique and personal to their life experiences.
Addiction recovery is a time of change and restoration. While this often leads to positive growth, it can also be draining and overwhelming. For this reason, many people lean on their spirituality during addiction recovery. For some people, spiritual recovery involves practicing their religion. For others, spirituality may mean something different, like a connection with nature or a path of personal growth. No matter the definition, spirituality can provide many benefits for people in addiction recovery.
Spirituality in Addiction Recovery
Addiction recovery is a leap of faith to challenge harmful thoughts and beliefs. Spirituality can provide guidance for better ways of living. Spirituality in recovery is common but not universal. A small number of recovery programs have been created for people who do not want to focus on personal spirituality. These groups focus on practical coping methods and scientific findings as guidance through addiction recovery. In the end, people seeking help from recovery groups need to find programs they can relate to.
Spirituality plays a significant role in 12-step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, according to an article in the Journal of Religious Health. The central idea of these programs is that a person’s recovery can begin when they let go of a perceived sense of control over their life. Each individual’s perceptions are skewed and steer them toward self-destruction. During recovery, people in 12-step programs look beyond themselves and trust in the wisdom of a higher power for guidance. This reliance on a higher power is reflected in many of the steps of these programs.
While many people see this higher power as God, a higher power can be described as any spiritual entity that has personal meaning. Some of the steps in these programs include prayer, meditation or relating to the higher power about their struggles. All of this is done in a group setting and with a personal sponsor, emphasizing a sense of connection.
Spirituality vs. Religion
Spirituality has a consistent role in many recovery programs. Because spirituality is extremely personal, many programs leave the definition up to the individual. This broad term can refer to a connection with a higher power outside of the individual or to a broader sense of meaning. Spirituality can also be defined as a connection to nature, to the universe or all living creatures. People can define spirituality by whatever connection is meaningful to them.
Religion is a more structured and defined way of expressing spirituality. It often involves a sense of community and connection with others and is guided through traditions, rites, rituals and organized leadership.
Benefits of Spirituality
Spirituality has many benefits for a person’s life, especially during addiction recovery. Addiction can be crippling to a person’s sense of value, purpose and connection to the world. When a person taps into spirituality, their focus turns away from their own worries and faces the world around them. While this can be difficult, spirituality can be comforting and uplifting. Many people who practice some form of spirituality find that their energy is renewed in times of difficulty. Spirituality and addiction recovery are a natural fit for each other.
Healing from drug addiction can be a challenging process. For many people in recovery, accepting personal responsibility is painful. Practicing spirituality can provide healing from past mistakes. Spiritual healing often involves forgiveness, reconnecting with others and finding a sense of belonging.
Some people promote healing by journaling regularly. Writing thoughts and feelings down on paper can be a cathartic way to express these things privately. Some people review their previous writings to help them understand the change they’ve gone through and gain perspective. Others write to get thoughts and emotions out and don’t care to revisit their creations.
Strength Through Difficulty
The early stages of recovery are mentally and emotionally exhausting. It takes a lot of energy for a person to face themselves and make changes in their perspective. Spiritual strength can lift a person through the difficult parts so they can keep moving forward. Meditation is one method for keeping spirituality at the forefront of a person’s mind. It can take just a few short sessions a day of simple meditative focus to renew a person’s strength in recovery. Meditation can be done in a still, quiet space or while doing something active, like practicing yoga or walking at a set pace.
Gratitude is a common and strong theme through many forms of spirituality. When a person follows the guidance of a higher power or spiritual beliefs, they are encouraged and often inspired to feel more grateful in their life. Gratitude has an important role in recovery. It helps people stay focused on the positive and helpful things in their lives. While much about addiction recovery can be emotionally upsetting, cultivating a sense of gratitude can make an important difference and help remind people of the numerous benefits of sober living.
Many people feel lost and without a sense of purpose in life after addiction. These individuals are unsure about finding purpose on their own, so they turn to spirituality for help. Spirituality encourages people to focus beyond themselves and step out of their comfort zone to help others. This activity often helps people find ways to feel useful, important and valued. From that sense of purpose and value comes higher self-esteem and confidence.
Connections are powerful during addiction recovery and support can make a huge difference for an individual. Addiction pushes people to isolate themselves and disconnect from others. Spirituality encourages connections with others to restore a sense of belonging. People can connect with a higher power within themselves, in others, in nature or from a variety of other sources.
Prayer comes in many forms and is often used to meaningfully connect to a higher power. While it is common to see a person praying with a bowed head and folded hands, some raise their hands and look to the sky. Other people pray with dance movements, through song or in groups. Prayer style is a very personal choice and often depends on the situation.
Call The Recovery Village Today
Spirituality often plays a key role in a person’s recovery, but each person’s expression of spirituality is unique. If you care about someone with spiritual needs and addiction issues, contact The Recovery Village today. Or, if this is what your personal struggle looks like, please call now. Representatives are available to take your call 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Don’t wait to get the help you or a loved one needs today.
AA.org “The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.” August, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2019.
Dermatis, H. & Galanter, M. “The Role of Twelve-Step-Related Spiritua[…]n Addiction Recovery.” Journal of Religious Health, April 2016. Accessed July 29, 2019.
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.