This is a two article series exploring whether spirituality is required for achieving long-term sobriety. There are various models that can treat an addiction, that both include and don’t include spirituality. Although some individuals who suffer from an addiction might be opposed to spirituality as a part of their drug rehab program, for many, it’s what makes their recovery so effective.
At the same time, there are those who attend Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings, for example, who keep their distance from spirituality throughout the many years they attend meetings.
Yet, they continue to work through the 12 AA steps regardless. Still, there are some who started their drug addiction treatment years ago and have remained sober neither needed nor wanted the spiritual component. Their disbelief in anything spiritual kept them far from it.
And still, others who remained at arm’s length to the spirituality of AA later found that it was an essential part of their recovery process. Certainly, spirituality may not be what a recovering addict is looking for in drug addiction treatment. He or she may discover that spirituality is not what’s needed in order to make it through the challenge of drug detox and substance abuse treatment.
For instance, step four of the 12-step model asks that a person make a fearless moral inventory of oneself, inviting the exploration of one’s inner thoughts and beliefs that might inhibit recovery.
This might be an acceptable task, even for those who are not spiritually bent, but more than half of the 12 steps (see the first article in this series) invite communication or relationship with a higher being.
William James who is sometimes referred to as the “father of American psychology”, was also a philosopher and a physician, and he once noted, “psychology is limited in its ability to help heal the addictive mind.”
Making a Change
In order for an individual to make a change, they must undergo some form of spiritual transformation. Sure, there are ways that people have changed with the use of pure will power. But with a force as strong as addiction and its self-perpetuating cycles in the brain, the individual often needs to connect with an intelligence greater, larger than himself.
Along these lines, for many AA participants, there’s a reason why spirituality exists in the 12-step model – a relationship with a higher being facilitates a greater sense of power within oneself versus the powerlessness that led to addiction in the first place.
12 Step Model
The 12-step model includes at its core a culture, a community, and conversations about developing a relationship a higher being, and it has longevity and high recovery rates on its side.
The long-term success of the 12-step model may indicate whether or not spirituality as a significant component is worth exploring. However, it’s important to point out that one doesn’t have to believe in a God necessarily, or even any particular kind of God to participate in and receive the benefits of the 12-step model.
Surfers might see the ocean as their higher power, writers might see nature as their higher power, and teens might use love as their higher power. Whichever form of God you choose, or not, it won’t keep you from experiencing a life change as long as you continue to practice the 12 steps on a daily basis.
If you choose to practice the twelve steps, or another substance abuse treatment model which includes spirituality, perhaps you’ll notice a change in how you feel about a higher power. Perhaps you might come to appreciate the spiritual benefits you’re experiencing, whether they’re a part of your drug addiction treatment or not.
Regardless, because there’s a good chance you’re going to face talk about spirituality during drug rehab, it might be worth giving it some consideration.
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