Spirituality and sobriety are often talked about together. Having a spiritual practice is hugely beneficial for many and helps to keep people dedicated to recovery.
Although spirituality and God can have a strong connection for many people, spirituality does not have to involve organized religion. It is a term with a definition that has shifted over time and now encompasses a wide range of ideas.
Spirituality has a strong foundation in recovery due to the way it can help you to feel grounded and connected. It can help you to look outside of yourself to find comfort, hope, and guidance.
What Is Spirituality?
Religion and spirituality are often linked, but they may not be for everyone. Spirituality is a broad notion that encapsulates the belief that there is something beyond yourself. For a lot of people, this greater power is God. The structures of organized religion can help people make sense of the world and feel connected through rituals, teachings, and traditions that provide a sense of community.
However, a belief in God isn’t necessary to have a spiritual practice. For some, spirituality means a relationship to nature and those around you, a personal search for meaning and growth, and a connection to something greater than the self. It is a desire to be concerned with the human spirit rather than material things. These ideas combine to provide a space of solace, comfort, and mental clarity, which can help maintain sobriety.
You can practice spirituality through practices such as yoga, meditation, spending time in nature, art, tai-chi, and mindfulness.
How Is Spirituality Incorporated Into 12-Step Programs?
The 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) believe in a holistic approach to recovery, treating the mind, body, and soul together.
Guided by twelve principles that are foundations of spiritual living, participants in these programs are encouraged to connect with a higher power (this could be God, but could also be the inner self, nature, love, etc.) and implement these principles into their daily lives. The twelve steps are:
How Does Spirituality Provide Hope?
A lack of hope can be incredibly self-destructive. It can make you feel as if sobriety is impossible and feel isolated from everyone around you. Spirituality changes this negative mindset into a positive one, giving your mental health a powerful boost through the belief that you can recover. Feeling hopeful is hugely beneficial to your health as it confirms that you can grow and allows yourself to feel a sense of connection.
Spirituality is the light at the end of the tunnel, guiding you and pushing you gently through the dark times. Spiritual practices let you know that there is something worthwhile in this journey if you keep sticking with it.
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Health should be treated holistically: the body influences the mind and the mind influences the body. Spirituality can greatly improve someone’s mental health which has a huge impact on addiction recovery, as mental health is often poorly affected by addiction, and may be the cause of addiction in the first place.
A clearer mind and spiritual growth can be highly beneficial for a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Addiction can be reframed as an illness rather than a failure and spirituality can give someone meaning and direction for the future while helping them to accept the past. Spirituality is an excellent source of healing and can lighten the burden when working towards long-term recovery.
What Else Can Spirituality Offer?
- Learning to forgive can help to release the destructive feeling of shame which often accompanies addiction.
- Strength through hard times. Spirituality can help provide strength when life is difficult, helping you to make it through rather than giving up or feeling completely overwhelmed and out of control.
- It can provide you with a sense of purpose, direction, and meaning, which help improve mental stamina and happiness.
- It can help you to incorporate gratitude into your life, which can have huge benefits to your mental health.
The important thing in spirituality in order to help sobriety is not necessarily finding God. It is connecting to something bigger than yourself, learning to forgive and grow, and having the strength to recover from your addiction. Spiritual practice can give you comfort and a sense of belonging, both of which are incredibly helpful when trying to remain sober and live a new life in recovery.