Addiction treatment focuses on many aspects of a person’s life. The journey to recovery from addiction is not a clear, even path but spirituality or focusing on a higher power can be helpful amidst the challenges recovery brings. Find out why spiritual recovery is part of addiction treatment and how to harness the power of this practice.
Why Spirituality Matters
Spirituality is important in addiction recovery as addiction takes away so much, including the ability to focus on the spiritual self. People become disconnected from spirituality and the powers, people and things outside oneself. A full recovery from addiction happens when a person must reconnect with spirituality in search of a sense of purpose and connectedness in life. Addiction works to separate a person from the world and the self, whereas spirituality works to knit a person back together.
Addiction and Spirituality
There are many ways addiction works to take away a person’s ability to engage with oneself spiritually.
- The sole focus of a person’s life becomes addiction. People and things have value based on addiction.
- Spirituality is about choosing the self (beliefs, purpose, meaning and connection)
- Addiction takes away the ability to grow and change. When a person focuses solely on addiction, life ceases to have any growth outside of using drugs or alcohol
- Addiction takes away the ability to experience wonder, awe and surprise. Wonder and awe come mainly during ordinary events and things.
- Spirituality helps assign meaning, value and purpose to life
Becoming a spiritual person takes practice to restore all that is lost to addiction. Spirituality helps people become comfortable with uncertainty. A person becomes vulnerable and able to connect with others with love and compassion. The physical, mental and spiritual aspects of a person’s life formulate the journey of recovery. Spiritual practices will look different for each person but the important part is just to get started and begin designing a plan for recovery that includes personal growth and building a sense of self beyond addiction.
Developing and Maintaining a Spiritual Practice in Recovery
Addiction affects people in a myriad ways including emotionally, spiritually and physically. Spirituality is very individual but focuses on how a person perceives oneself in the world. A person’s hopes and dreams are contained in the spirit, the soul of an individual in recovery especially needs tending after the ravages of addiction have taken hold.
Cultivate a Spiritual Life
Prayer, meditation, service work, practicing values such as honesty and others are considered important to a vital spiritual life. Attitudes, beliefs and practices that strengthen the spirit energize people to get well and stay healthy. In essence, being in touch with one’s spiritual side can aid in healing and recovery.
The following tips can be used to start a spiritual practice for individuals in recovery from addiction. This can enhance a person’s quality of life but also support recovery and make life feel more spacious and worth staying sober to enjoy.
Cultivate down time
- The central nervous system has a rest and action cycle. Healing occurs typically during the rest cycle. Chronic over-exertion, anxiety, fear and anger merely take away from cultivating happiness. Recovery is about healing. Let the body rest and the spirit will follow.
Get into nature
- Nature is God’s way of giving back something to human beings. It is a give and take relationship, living off the land and giving back to it in turn. Humans are made up of chemicals and compounds similar to those found in the earth itself. Find a place that brings rest, renews the spirit and cultivates peace. Enjoy a walk in the woods, breath fresh air and just be present.
- Recovery is about cleansing oneself from the inside out. Build awareness and be open to possibilities beyond what is seen right now, today. Trusting is a good tool in recovery, and life.
- Addiction takes away joy and recreation from life. Give back what addiction took away by playing, having fun and learning to enjoy life again by finding hobbies, spending time with friends and finding sober ways to enjoy being alive.
- Graciousness and humility are great tools for the recovery journey. It takes a shift in awareness after addiction to be aware of the gifts grace and humility bring. Focus positive energy on what is good, help others and find ways to cultivate kindness towards others.
- The spirit is curious and creative. Look for activities that build intrigue, mystery and allow space to tap into something deep down that was buried in addiction.
- The soul craves room to breathe after addiction. Anxiety, stress and fear are natural emotions in recovery. Learn to find space for breath, air and quiet room to reflect. Meditation, yoga and other similar practices can help cultivate space to be present and mindful enough to just breathe through life’s challenges.
The Role of Faith in Recovery
God isn’t for everyone. For that matter, neither is spirituality. In the world of recovery, mostly dominated by a twelve step program that prides itself on being a spiritual program, there is seemingly a lot of pressure to get spiritual. All too often, people steer clear from the hands of recovery out of fear for being brainwashed or forced into dogmatic religion. Quite the contrary, the text of the twelve steps repeatedly cites “God as we understood him”. A god isn’t even required. One of the reasons spirituality, religion and God are so deeply intertwined with recovery is simply faith.
Among other things, faith means having the ability to believe. Believing is a very important thing in the tender days of early recovery, and through the most of life for the recovering individual. In order to come to recovery, it must be believed that a problem with substances does indeed exist. Furthermore, there has to be faith that there is another way. Even beyond that, there has to be a hope that whatever that other way is, it is possible, even for the individual for whom little else has worked so far. Coming through this point in a recovering person’s journey is probably the biggest leap of faith they will take. Day by day, hour by hour, they learn to act in more faith that they can get through another period of time without drinking or using. Soon, they even have faith in themselves and believe that they can in fact live a clean life of recovery.
Getting there is not easy. It takes time and it takes practice as it essentially goes against recent years of contrary action and behavior. However, it is a special experience because it gets to be made one hundred percent unique. Developing a spiritual practice is completely custom. Recovery is freedom from the bondage of drugs and alcohol, included in that is the freedom to choose what to think and what to believe. Trying on different types of thought is one of the joys of recovery. Begin building a spiritual practice by experimenting with different things. Pick and choose from what is liked, leave out what isn’t liked. If a religion fits, dive in! If a more spiritual practice works, utilize that too. Find practices like meditations that allow quiet time for contemplation, deep rest and deep thought. A spiritual practice should inspire thinking far outside the self and foster feelings of perspective and gratitude.
Recovery means defining yourself in a whole new light. What addiction takes away, spiritual practices can restore over time. The Villa Treatment Center provides resources and tools for families and loved ones to seek help for the toll addiction takes on a person’s emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. The recovery journey lasts a lifetime, but it is never too late to start. If you need help fighting addiction, call us to find out how we can help you find joy again.