Spirituality means different things to different people. For some, it is the belief in God and specific religious traditions, while for others, it may be an increased sense of mindfulness and peace. Whatever the source, spirituality makes it possible for those in addiction recovery to feel forgiveness for the past and help for the future.
Addiction is much more than a physical condition with uncontrollable cravings for drugs and alcohol. It affects you spiritually and emotionally, damaging your peace and your character and body. The emotional scars left by addiction – anger, shame, self-centeredness, and dishonesty – are also signs of a spiritual crisis, which is why building a solid spiritual foundation is so critical to recovery.
Step Two of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 12-Step Program – the backbone of addiction recovery ideology here at our faith-based treatment center – states that believing in a power greater than ourselves will restore us. There are several reasons why spirituality is intrinsic to success in overcoming addiction – we gain a sense of accountability and purpose, establish ourselves as part of a community, and learn to express gratitude.
When we’re accountable to a higher authority, our life takes on additional meaning and purpose. No longer are we living simply to please or displease ourselves. Instead, we recognize that our actions have consequences and that we need to take responsibility for those actions. They not only affect us, but they also affect others. Taking responsibility helps us learn to be honest with ourselves and our loved ones, and this honesty is critical to moving forward in recovery.
Finding Your Purpose
Every one of us has thought about why we are here on this earth. What is my purpose? Do I matter? Would the world be better off if I weren’t here? Or is it better off because I’m here? Believing in a supreme creator tells us that we are not here on earth by accident but by design. Believing in God also helps us to recognize that God believes in us, too, and that He knows there are things only we can accomplish, regardless of our limited talent or capacity.
One study found that for every one-point increase in Purpose of Life score, the odds of not drinking heavily after six months of treatment increased by three percent. As one’s purpose of life grew, so did the odds of not falling into relapse. Many other studies on this subject have yielded similar results. Perhaps the most potent evidence that having a purpose in life helps conquer addiction is the anecdotal kind. The following is a quote from an anonymous addict:
“I think the main sense of purpose is in knowing that I am part of the human race instead of feeling like a piece of [crap]. … [Your] purpose should be to be able to look somebody in the eye and feel good about yourself. You can’t do that being addicted to drugs. You just can’t. You have an obligation that you have to be something positive in the building you live in, the job you go to, your neighborhood, your society, your country, the world. You are an individual and you fit in because there’s nobody else like you. Nobody was like you before, nobody’s going to be like you afterwards, so you fit in. So, you have to do your part.
Becoming Part of a Community
Addiction thrives in isolation, separating us from our family, friends, and co-workers through guilt, shame, and dishonesty. Opening ourselves spiritually means connecting with, either formally or informally, a community of faith. As we work with people who likewise believe in a higher power, we learn and practice critical recovery skills like trust, honesty, forgiveness, and service.
Express Gratitude Regularly
When we seek spiritual healing, we are at the same time reminded of how we are blessed. Counting our blessings is difficult at first, especially when everything in our life seems so dark and out of whack. As we look for and recognize even the tiniest positives, however, our perspective will begin to change, too. We will find that regularly expressing gratitude reduces stress, helps us to face challenges with a more positive outlook, and teaches us to love and respect ourselves and others. It also enables us to see setbacks and failures as opportunities to improve, and it enhances our desire to help others experiencing similar challenges.
Some great ways to express gratitude are:
1. Start a daily gratitude journal.
2. Do something for others.
3. Be mindful in your actions.
4. Embrace your imperfections.
Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is not an easy road, but it’s also not impossible. We believe knowing who you are and how you fit into a greater spiritual plan will give you the power you need to overcome the demons of addiction. If you would like to know more about how our faith-based program can help you, contact our substance abuse center therapists.