Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction can be a long but rewarding process. Depending on the individual and the nature of their addiction, the journey to Recovery can have many paths. Some choose therapy options like a 12-Step program that brings them closer to God or a higher being. Finding meaning in a greater power or purpose can open a person up to a completely new outlook on life and improve their chances of experiencing a stable and successful recovery.
What Does Recovery Really Mean?
When someone tells you that a friend is “in recovery,” you might imagine that person to be taking things slow and easy. They are still vulnerable but are on their way back to health. There is an implicit assumption that the recovery process will come to a close once the friend is back on their feet. This understanding is true for some illnesses, but not for all.
When it comes to healing from addiction, “recovery” is a process that can last many years. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines Recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” For some, there is no end date to recovering from a substance use disorder (SUD).
Moreover, this definition indicates that Recovery is more than just abstaining from drug and alcohol use and experiencing the remission of symptoms, although these are critical components of the process. Some believe that Recovery also includes learning how to handle negative emotions without using and living a fulfilling and participatory lifestyle. Depending on who you talk to, individuals in Recovery may have their own spin on what Recovery means in their life.
Spirituality & Religion: Are They Different?
There are many different opportunities available for an individual to start their recovery journey. Because people are diverse, various factors influence which path they will choose, including cultural values, socioeconomic status, psychological and behavioral needs, and the nature of the SUD. Some gravitate towards the spiritual- or religion-based practices found in mutual aid groups like 12-Step programs. Celebrate Recovery is a religious offshoot of 12-Step programs that proclaims itself to be “Christ-centered.”
Religion and spirituality are overlapping concepts that also have some distinguishing features. One study defines religion as “an organized system of beliefs, practices, and symbols designed (a) to facilitate closeness to the transcendent, and (b) to foster an understanding of one’s relationship and responsibility to others in living together in a community.” Religion without spirituality is more objective and based on external factors.
Spirituality can be understood separately from any particular religion to generally include a person’s beliefs, values, and the search for meaning in their life. It is more subjective. Another study explains that while some religious behaviors (i.e., frequent prayer and church attendance) “are correlated with spirituality, many aspects of spirituality are independent of self-reported religious behaviors.” Moreover, although spirituality can and often is an important component of organized religion, spirituality begins before and extends beyond religion.
Benefits of Spirituality in Recovery
As previously noted, spirituality is a core component of working the Twelve Steps. While some groups are more religiously oriented, others refer to a higher power rather than ‘God’ or ‘Christ.’ Some groups are very open and encourage members to use their own concept of a higher power. In any 12-Step program, the search for meaning outside of one’s individual experiences is salient.
Perhaps you are unsure if this kind of experience is right for your loved one. If so, spend some time researching the groups in your area. A friend or family member that would not describe themselves as being spiritual or religious might still find the Twelve Steps to be useful. Remember, no prerequisites exist in getting started on this new journey.
Moreover, there are several benefits to embracing spirituality and joining a 12-Step program that they should consider. According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, scientific evidence demonstrates that 12-Step programs are an effective substance use intervention. Program affiliation has been highlighted as a key external resource that promotes stability, buffers stress, and enhances life satisfaction during Recovery.
A study in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly notes other benefits, including:
- Reduced distress and psychiatric symptoms
- Increased the likelihood of being employed
- Enhanced coping and promote hope for the future
- Heightened sense of control, security, and stability
- Increased ability to resist the opportunity to use substances
A Final Word of Advice
Addiction can take a serious toll on a person’s capacity to see the purpose and meaning of it all. They may feel hopeless and believe that their life will never get better. Oftentimes, a person develops an addiction because they are struggling to manage stress, trauma, or an underlying mental health condition. Whether they work the Twelve Steps or take another approach, getting them help as soon as possible can save their life.
Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction can be a life-long process through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. The Twelve Steps are spiritually-based programs that have proven effective at helping clients overcome addiction and improve the quality of their life. Our clinicians at Oceanfront Recovery understand that there is more to addiction recovery than just abstinence and remission of symptoms. We want to help you find meaning and purpose in daily activities, relationships, and in your life. The first step is to enroll in our fully licensed residential treatment program. If you require alcohol and drug detox, those services are available. Once you have completed primary treatment, clinicians will work with you in our Aftercare Program. They can help connect you with community resources like 12-Step meetings and religious groups in the community. For more information on how we can help, call today at (877) 279-1777.