How Addiction And Spirituality Go Hand-In-Hand
By The Orlando Recovery Center
Editor Carly Benson
Last Updated: January 22, 2024
Psychology Today states that “in the United States, addiction is often described as a spiritual, physical and emotional problem,” and while they didn’t necessarily agree with that notion completely, other research might suggest that addiction is a disconnection from spirituality among many other causes.
Spirituality is hard to define, as it carries a different meaning and experience for everyone. Typically, it is regarded as connection to a higher power or source greater than ourselves. Some define that as God, Universe, Spirit, Oneness or even energy. It’s truly unique for each person and how they identify with being spiritual, as well as supporting beliefs around what spirituality looks like to them. It will look different for everyone.
Addiction and spirituality go hand-in-hand as we notice the contrast of how spirituality plays a role in both addiction and recovery. In active addiction, there is typically an absence of connection to spirit, what ever that may look like to the user. In recovery, a spiritual practice is absolutely essential and often becomes the backbone of staying sober for many.
“Addiction is a disease of isolation,” says Tommy Rosen, author of Recovery 2.0, and addiction feeds on shame and guilt. Addiction robs us of our spirituality because it makes us believe we are not connected, we are alone and we, in turn, are too numb to hear or understand any sense of intuition, spirit or higher power. It makes us believe we have little or nothing to be grateful for and blinds us from being mindful or present to reality.
Most would argue that to truly be successful in breaking the chains of addiction, we all need a spiritual path in recovery and a community of support to go along with it. The reason for this is that the addict in us wants us to remain alone in the dark, but a spiritual path and community shine the light for us. Once a light illuminates, the darkness cannot survive. Understanding the role spirituality can play in a solid recovery path is usually the cornerstone for many in treatment.
Spirituality deals with not only our heart but also with our mind. By welcoming in a spiritual practice with prayer, meditation and connecting to a higher power, we can begin to overcome shame and negative thinking patterns. These patterns are the crux of bad habits and the voice in our head that tells us to use or to feed our cravings starts to be silenced as the voice of spirit begins to emerge out of a spiritual practice.
Retraining our heart and mind through the work of a spiritual practice is crucial. It helps us to fight cravings and understand we are not alone. Putting measures in place to help find peace and calmness before our mind goes negative or dark is so important to prevent relapse and to create a recovery program that really works.
If the idea of religion or God doesn’t resonate, there are other avenues to achieve a spiritual foundation such as breath work, meditation, yoga, volunteering, dancing or music. The idea behind spirituality is connecting to yourself and realizing that you have within you a powerful force greater than you that can be instrumental in overcoming the demons of shame, guilt, worthlessness and feelings of lack that an addict often carries.
It’s important in addiction recovery to learn how to implement stress management strategies, coping mechanisms and an overall holistic approach to handling life that support us in sustaining and maintaining our sobriety. Being able to center, balance and find inner peace is vital for anyone on a path of recovery.
Not only that, but feeling connected to ourselves, others, and a source greater than us, can cause feelings of well-being, purpose and contentment. These feelings begin to replace our ego, fear and anxiety as the sense of connectedness creates a pathway for healing.
Understanding our spirituality, connecting to a practice that works for us and creating a life around it, are fundamental tools in all recovery programs.
A treatment center can help you incorporate spiritual practices that make the most sense for you, as many verticals are available. A solid spiritual practice can be instrumental in recovery to help navigate challenges of life as we work to maintain the path of sobriety.
Getting help is much easier than most would think and can be imperative to creating a life free from addiction. Treatment centers help facilitate and acclimate patients to healthier ways of living by introducing them to spiritual practices that can transform the life of an addict forever.