Importance of spirituality in recovery from substance abuse
Spirituality has often been a hard topic to grasp for many people seeking recovery in a rehab or a 12-step program. The notion of a higher power, or basically spirituality, is quite challenging to a person starting the journey of recovery he or she had never identified with, or had previously rejected, religion. Spirituality is less challenging to those who still practice religion, or at least believe in a higher power or God. A person already with a set of religious beliefs can easily fit the concept of spirituality in their mental framework. However, spirituality is quite different from religion.
Many people make the mistake of thinking spirituality and religion refer to the same thing. Religion can broadly be defined as beliefs and rituals practiced to worship God or gods. Spirituality, on the other hand, refers to one’s personal quest to find meaning in life through a power higher than oneself. Whereas religion is seen as rules and tenets agreed upon by a group of people that govern their worshiping habits, spirituality is strictly related to one’s personal experience. Spirituality to most people has to do with recognizing a higher power that exists or is manifested through love and compassion. It is about relating with a power that gives meaning and purpose to life. This is one of the cornerstones of the 12 steps program.
One may therefore ask, what relevance does spirituality have on your recovery from drug or alcohol addiction? It would be important to first point out that addiction takes away our innate ability to be spiritual. All humans exhibit spiritual traits in different levels. It is what makes people superstitious, hopeful, inspired, or simply safe in the belief that there is a higher power than oneself that controls the workings of the universe. Addiction takes away your ability to connect with the higher power, leaving you hollow and empty inside. Addiction disconnects you from not just the higher power, but from people and things around you. It is therefore important to reconnect with your spirituality, and find purpose in life in order to fully recover from your addiction.
Addiction, whether to drugs or alcohol, steals your spirituality by making everything in your life centered on using. Your entire focus in life becomes centered on getting the next fix or drink. The only things that matter are where to get the drugs, who to get it from, and how to get more. Your entire life revolves around your addiction. It becomes the higher power in your life. You will only value people or things that help you feed your addiction. Everything else becomes irrelevant. Addiction rakes away your ability to choose anything else besides the object of your addiction, such as drugs or alcohol. The ability to choose what to believe in, and people or things to connect with, is an important element of spirituality. You lose your spirituality when you can no longer control your choices.
Addiction takes away more than your ability to choose. It steals your ability to tell right from wrong. You end up doing dishonest things because you have lost the spiritual ability of having good relationships with others. You lose all relationships and connections that make you human when everything you do or say is centered on feeding the addiction. You can no longer experience the beauty of simple things that make life worth living such as awe, wonder, joy, and true happiness without drugs or alcohol.
When you consider what addiction takes away from you, you begin to notice how recovery is a journey to regain your spirituality too. Being spiritual again will restore everything addiction took away from you. Spirituality is gradually regained by becoming comfortable with the unknown, recognizing the higher power, being grateful for what you have or who you are, finding things that truly inspire you, and developing some form of faith. Spirituality requires you to be mindful of the simple but important things that make life extraordinary, such as love and compassion.