The Role of Spirituality in Recovery

Spirituality and issues of faith may seem a world apart from the torments of addiction and substance abuse. Research shows, however, that addiction does not affect only the body. It establishes a powerful grip on the mind and, yes, the spirit as well. Not so coincidentally, holistic treatment strives to heal all these things – the spirit, the body and the mind. Spirituality can be an integral component of holistic healing.

What Exactly Is Spirituality?

Spirituality is one of those slippery terms that can mean different things to different people. It is commonly accepted as a connection and relationship with God or another divine being. However, some believe that spirituality simply relates to an individual’s spirit or soul. Atheists may consider themselves spiritual in that they rely on or are guided by their convictions or strengths of character. In either case, spirituality can be a powerful tool toward recovery when it is used to help  individuals in recovery get in touch with their inner spirituality. Spirituality’s role in recovery is not new. Most 12-step programs share an emphasis on prayer, personal discovery and connection with a higher power.

Spirituality as a Tool in Recovery

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University revealed that as many as 40 million Americans, which is 13 percent of the population, struggle with dependence on drugs, alcohol, or both. More than 80 percent of Americans express a belief in God or other divine being, which indicates that faith is of some importance to a healthy portion of those affected by addiction.

Holistic recovery programs that incorporate spirituality guide addicts toward a reliance on a higher power, both in lieu of dependence on a substance and for support in dealing with the unpleasant aspects of recovery. Those programs encourage and correlate prayer with inner strength and hope through techniques that promote coping in stressful situations without turning to the substance that has provided pseudo-strength before. Spirituality can also fill the void that many recovering addicts experience when they face life without the substance that once gave their lives meaning and purpose. It may provide new meaning.

Spirituality can also be an important component of life after recovery. Studies indicate that the support of a spiritual community, such as other members of a church or synagogue, is critical to ongoing sobriety. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that adults who do not attend religious services, even sporadically, are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Results of Spirituality-Based Recovery Programs

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicates that spirituality-based recovery programs have slightly higher abstinence rates than other forms of therapy by as much as 10 percent. The rate may be even higher when compared to treatment programs that focus on negativity and punishment for lapses as opposed to emotional and spiritual support and nurturing.

Moving on from addiction doesn’t mean you have to exist in a void. Consider an uplifting and positive approach to treatment by incorporating your beliefs into your treatment plan.

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