Exploring Spirituality in Addiction Recovery: There are Many Paths to Take

Exploring Spirituality in Addiction Recovery: There are Many Paths to Take

E“No matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible.”

–       George Chakris, American dancer, singer and actor

Spirituality has long been debated on where its place is in addiction recovery. A common belief is that addiction takes us away from connection to ourselves, others, and the world, whereas spirituality brings us closer to all of them. If you’ve been considering strengthening your spirituality in addiction recovery, you’ll be relieved to find that each person’s path is different. What works for one person may not work for another; the most important outcome is connecting with something larger than yourself to add fulfillment, purpose and hope to your life.

According to a 2017 review published in the Universal Journal of Psychology, spiritual often consists of vital dimensions for happiness and wellbeing in our lives, such as the search for “meaning, purpose, and self-transcending knowledge” as well as building meaningful relationships through love and commitment. With many different paths to take, spirituality is meant to be a journey that unravels as a person continues on their journey in both life and addiction recovery.

Paths to Spirituality

1.     Twelve Step Programs

Twelve step programs have long been considered paths towards spirituality, as the Twelve Steps guide participants into developing a closer relationship with God or other Higher Power. An article published in the journal Religions emphasized that programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have expanded to build recovery in 6 main facets of recovery: release, gratitude, humility, tolerance, forgiveness, and a sense of being at home. There is a variety of AA experiences that can be found within and between AA groups, with an emphasis on something that’s beyond. In Part III of the Big Book, published by AA, members submitted testimonies of their development of spirituality. Here is an excerpt from one of their stories:

“So, as I have worked with the program, I have grown emotionally and intellectually. I not only have peace with God, I have the peace of God through an active God consciousness. I have not only recovered from alcoholism, I have become whole in person – body, spirit, soul.”

AA estimates that there are over 2 million active memberships worldwide; for many, this has led to a lifelong commitment to building a relationship with God through commitment, hope, and love.

2.     Spiritual Practice

Spirituality doesn’t haven’t to involve a religion specifically, as a person can consider themselves spiritual and not religious. By definition, spirituality means, “The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.”

There are many people in addiction recovery who have built spirituality through connecting with others and developing meaningful relationships, by being kind to others, by spreading love when they can and by being thankful for what they’ve been given in life. There are many holistic activities that can promote this type of spiritual growth, and those include yoga, meditation, mindfulness, massage therapy, art therapy, music therapy, experiential activities and more.

Another form of spiritual practice is self-care, and that’s because it involves embracing the body that we’ve been given in this life and taking care of it as it’s our home. Self-care should be a daily practice not only for those in addiction recovery, but for everyone. This type of practice could include getting plenty of sleep, eating healthily, exercising, partaking in hobbies that open up the mind and heart, connecting with people in meaningful ways, challenging oneself to keep thought-processes fresh, learning new skills, and relaxing when it’s needed. Many people find that as they learn to love themselves with more compassionate and less judgment, they’re able to open their heart more easily to others, too.

3.     Post-traumatic Growth

A research paper titled “Testimony and Transformation: Addiction, Meaning and Spiritual Change” states that in post-traumatic growth research, spiritual transformation has been found to be a key dimension. Post-traumatic growth offers those who have been through painful life experiences a beautiful, clearer understanding of who they are as a strong person in recovery. Identity development takes place, and others can often notice a greater sense of clarity and confidence from someone who has transitioned from “victim” to “warrior”.

Trauma is a major component for many people in recovery, as even childhood trauma can have lasting impacts on a person. Post-traumatic growth takes time, but it can happen if a person is willing and open to learning and utilizing the tools they’ve gathered from recovery.

Embrace Your Own Path

Your life experiences have led you to this point for a reason. You’re here right now, and you’re focusing on your recovery. You’re contemplating spirituality, and perhaps you’ll discover different ways to expand on this over time. Be patient with yourself, because you’re constantly growing. Recovery isn’t about finding life’s answers right away – or even at all. It’s about the journey.

If you haven’t yet taken that first step towards your recovery journey, speak with someone from a reputable treatment center today.  

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.

Saving Lives; Healing Families.

Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.