spirituality in addiction recovery

How Does Spirituality Affect Addiction Recovery?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

If you’re a spiritual person, your spirituality can be a powerful tool in your recovery from addiction that shouldn’t be overlooked. Spirituality gives hope and provides meaning. As you take steps forward in your journey toward long-term sobriety, incorporating spiritual principles along the way can play a role in maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse.

What Is Spirituality?

The meaning of spirituality is subjective and may differ from person to person. For some people, spirituality is directly connected to their belief in God or a higher power. For others, it may be a connectedness with their soul or with the universe.

Spirituality doesn’t equate to religion. In religion, it is the vehicle by which people connect to their higher power. Through spiritual practices such as prayer or meditation, individuals can feel like they are a part of something greater than themselves. These practices can be performed with or without a religious institution or background.

Spirituality in Addiction Recovery

Spiritual people often cite spirituality as playing a large role in their addiction recovery. As they make progress in their journey toward healing, their spirituality often grows. In studies on spirituality and addiction recovery, participants cited God as their source of strength. For these people, God gave them the hope and peace they needed to persevere through their recovery.

In the cited studies, spirituality had a positive effect on the length of sobriety. For those who experienced relapses, spirituality may have also lessened the severity of these relapses.

Spirituality has long been a component of many addiction treatment programs. Popular 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are spiritually-oriented programs. Most of the 12 steps are directly related to seeking God’s help during the recovery process.

Whichever way you define spirituality for yourself, how can spiritual principles help you in your recovery?

Being Connected With Something Greater Than Yourself

Addiction can cause you to feel isolated and alone. Then, because you feel isolated and alone, you may turn to your addiction to fill a void in yourself. From a spiritual perspective, that void is a spiritual emptiness that substances attempt to fill.

With spirituality, you become connected with something greater than yourself. This can be God, a higher power, or the universe around you. You’ll begin to realize that you’re not alone in the world. The void you were attempting to fill with substances can instead be filled with a connection to a higher power or the world around you.

Establishing Your Purpose in Life

Addiction is a behavior that attempts to give you pleasure. You may use it as a means to escape a negative feeling or harsh reality. However, that pleasure is not long-lasting. It serves no greater purpose to you beyond that single moment. As a result, you may feel purposeless and hopeless. These feelings of purposeless and hopelessness then cause you to engage in addictive behavior again and again. It’s a vicious cycle.

Spirituality can give life meaning. As you explore your spirituality, you may find yourself discovering your purpose in life. For some, that purpose may be to serve God or a higher power. For others, their spirituality may lead them to have a greater desire to help others and contribute positively to the world. Learning what you’re living for can help you to look forward to a life without substances.

Incorporating Mindfulness Into Your Daily Routine

Mindfulness is a promising treatment for substance use disorders. When used as a daily practice, it helps you become aware of the present moment. When you’re anxious about the future or depressed about the past, it can be tempting to return to substances to cope. However, with mindfulness, you learn to focus on the present.

Mindfulness and spirituality go hand in hand. The origins of mindfulness can be found in Buddhist meditation, though the principles of mindfulness can be applied by any individual regardless of belief system. It can help you better connect with yourself and your surroundings in a nonjudgemental way, bringing joy and peace. Using mindfulness every day becomes a way to cope with life’s stressors outside of substance use.

Take Your Steps Towards Recovery

Incorporating spirituality into your recovery can play a helpful role in your addiction recovery. At First Steps Recovery, our addiction treatment program in Fresno, California, is committed to providing you with high-quality, individualized care. If you’re ready to get started on your road to recovery, contact us today for more information.

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