Spirituality often feels out of reach for people who are struggling with addiction. They may have lost touch with the religious beliefs of their childhood and they feel their higher power has forgotten them, or they may believe that they aren’t deserving of happiness or love. However, numerous research studies have provided evidence that spirituality is critical to wellbeing, and when integrated into addiction treatment and drug rehab, promotes long-term recovery and decreases incidence of relapse.
It’s difficult not to confuse spirituality with religion, but it’s important to keep in mind that religion is constructed and organized by human beings, while spirituality is a personal matter that concerns how we relate to the world, to other people, and to ourselves. The two terms aren’t mutually exclusive; religion is spiritual and many spiritual people are religious, but spirituality doesn’t require adherence to a particular religion.
Spirituality, which is different for every person, provides purpose and direction to our lives, as we all have a need to connect to other people and to something greater than ourselves. Lack of the spiritual part of ourselves creates a sense of emptiness that is often filled with alcohol or drugs.
Spirituality can be defined for agnostics and even atheists in real and meaningful ways, and these groups can also benefit from spirituality. It is a transcendence beyond my own conscious thoughts. It can be Energy, or Love, the Universe or Truth. All of these concepts are also consistent with cultural and religious beliefs. If Mass = Energy, which is a Truth, we all are connected and a part of the larger whole. How do we step back from our false self (ego) and become aware of our inner voice and connection to all? This is spirituality.
AA defines addiction as a spiritual malady. This means I am alone. A spiritual awakening (step 12) means I am connected and a part-of. The Awareness of that inner voice, spirit voice, or Truth, divine self, love, intuition and connection are all spirituality. Music, art, creativity, and science are all transcendent, so all are spirituality.
Interestingly, spiritual endeavors such as meditation or praying are overwhelmingly proven scientifically to increase dopamine levels in the brain and activate areas of the brain important for peace, empathy and connection. In other words, spirituality changes our brains, restoring the exact defects found in addiction. We are designed to be spiritual beings. The spiritual program of the 12 steps and neuroplasticity provide the mechanisms to heal in addiction.
As humans, we are all spiritual beings, but it’s difficult for people to maintain a sense of spirituality while struggling with the pain of addiction, and worries about a personal belief system often take a back seat. If you are considering a Florida drug treatment center, consider the many benefits of spirituality:
· serve as a buffer that helps with withdrawal and cravings in early recovery.
· heal destructive emotions such as resentment, fear, anger, rejection, shame and guilt.
· uncover a potential for growth and creativity that may be lost during addiction.
· develop self-esteem and a value system that includes personal integrity, a sense of justice, and compassion for others.
· develop a willingness to forgive self and others.
· gain clarity about the illness of addiction.
· create deeper connections with other people.