When you first decide to detox and move away from your addiction, one word you might hear regularly is “spirituality.” You will also hear references to a “higher power.” Spirituality and addiction have a connection — spirituality is a strong force to fight addiction.
Of course, this could be a problem if you’re an agnostic or atheist seeking rehabilitation. The idea of spirituality connected to religion could even drive you away from rehab and detox. However, not all spirituality or spiritual things are related to religion.
How the Term Spirituality Will Show Up in Rehab Programs
Most 12-step programs rely on some form of spirituality. Perhaps the best-known saying from Alcoholics Anonymous is “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” An ancient prayer, it was first brought to the attention of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1941 when one of the first members read it in an obituary in the New York Herald Tribune.
But Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious program. Another one of its key phrases is “God, as we understood Him.” You don’t have to believe in a Judeo-Christian creator, Allah or a Hindu deity to look for your spiritual side. Your idea of a higher power could be completely different from that of other people who are with you in rehab. Whatever your higher power might be, once you find it, it helps you find calm in moments of stress and strength in moments of weakness and enables you to get outside yourself and put your broader experiences in context.
Why Is Spirituality an Important Aspect of Rehab?
In rehab, you’ll undergo a detox that will eventually flush all the drugs and toxins out of your physical body. However, it’s not just your body that needs to heal. Spirituality can help individuals recovering from a substance or alcohol use disorder find the mental strength to not return to their addiction.
Different Views of Spirituality
Spirituality will always mean different things to different people. However, at its root, it signifies a movement towards soul and spirit and away from material things.
For many people, this will connect to their idea of God and how they express that belief, be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or any other religion. This is their higher power, and their trust in that higher power is what they use to help them through the more challenging moments of rehabilitation.
For others, spirituality has nothing to do with believing in a deity or creator of any kind. Spirituality can mean a connection to nature or the universe, something that binds all living things together. People will define spirituality in a way that has meaning for them.
Benefits of Spirituality
When you’re trying to recover from an addiction, spirituality can have many benefits on your journey. Anyone struggling with addiction knows how it can cripple your sense of confidence and your connection to your family and the world at large and undermine your belief in yourself and your ability to make changes.
Spirituality helps people turn their focus away from their worries and fears and toward the world they live in. Connecting with a higher power provides strength to help overcome difficult times.
Research has shown that spirituality and its connection to programs that promote quality of life satisfaction provide tangible benefits.
In a 2006 study of several hundred people with substance and alcohol use disorders in New York’s inner city, researchers said their findings suggested that “the hope for ‘a better life’ that motivates alcohol and drug users to initiate the recovery process may become a reality for many; moreover, findings supported our hypothesis that social supports, spirituality, life meaning, religiousness and 12-step affiliation buffer stress significantly and enhance quality of life among recovering persons.”
The researchers also noted that their findings had several implications for clinicians and people who work in the recovery community. First, the finding that quality of life increases as stress decreases during the recovery process can offer hope for the future to individuals struggling in early recovery. The second finding was how spirituality, life meaning and 12-step programs minimize stress and enhance life satisfaction.
Why Spirituality Shouldn’t Be a Barrier to Help
As the research above shows, the day-to-day experience of people who work helping others recover from drug or alcohol use disorders and the experience of people in recovery themselves reveals that spirituality plays an important role, however you define it. The idea of focusing on something outside yourself helps you put your own life in perspective. This is true whether your belief in spirituality involves religion or just a greater connection to nature.
Spirituality can help in several ways, including:
- Healing: Spirituality can help people heal from past mistakes. It involves forgiveness, including forgiving oneself and reconnecting with family, friends and other people.
- Strength in times of difficulty: It’s tough when you first enter rehab. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Some days it takes a lot for people to move forward. Spirituality can provide inner strength in difficult times. Meditation, for instance, is beneficial. Whenever you face an obstacle, repeating a meaningful mantra can help you overcome it.
- Gratitude: People with addictions who observe a spiritual practice, whether religious or nonreligious, often discover that they’re more grateful for their lives as they progress through recovery. This feeling of gratitude plays a crucial role.
- A sense of purpose: It’s not unusual for people in early recovery to feel lost and uncertain where to turn. Spirituality provides these individuals with a way to focus on things besides themselves, to find a sense of purpose. As they help others, they build their confidence and belief in themselves.
If you have a substance or alcohol use disorder and know it’s destroying your belief in yourself, your relationships with your family and your work life, we’re here to help. Our compassionate team of counselors at FHE Health is standing by 24/7 to take your call. Contact us today by calling (833) 596-3502. You can start your journey to recovery today.