Many people with addiction are prevented from seeking help because they have heard that recovery has a spiritual element and they do not feel that they can function within a spiritual framework. Spirituality and addiction recovery sometimes seem to go hand in hand. The 12-step movement with a focus on higher strength can be especially challenging for some people..Some of the reasons why people with addiction feel strongly about this are:
- They have no religious background and feel uninformed about religion and spirituality.
- Feeling in religion means controlling people and not wanting to be controlled or being part of an approach that controls others.
- Recognize the role of religions in war and other atrocities and not want to be associated with them.
- Be an atheist – believe that there is no God.
- Being agnostic – believes there is no way of knowing if God exists, so pretending to know that God exists is hypocritical.
- Having an unpleasant or abusive experience with a member of a church or religious organization, especially if they were in a leadership position.
- After experiencing or experiencing such severe abuse, pain, or suffering, the idea of a God who could have prevented it makes no positive sense.
- I am uncomfortable with the idea that some religious teachings associate human suffering with past neglect or wrongdoing and are somehow “deserved”.
These are all valid reasons to refuse or refuse to join a religious organization. But they do not in themselves exclude you from discovering your own spiritual path. Many people are able to link their spiritual path with organized religion, but many others do not need “religion”.
What is Spirituality?
Spirituality is part of the human experience in which we explore who we are and what our life is about. This can include some of the following:
- Get in touch with your own moral compass – a way of knowing what is right and wrong according to your own beliefs and principles. These beliefs do not need to be passed on to you by religion. You can discover them by exploring your own thoughts and feelings...
- Learn to use your moral compass as a guide in your life. For example, if you believe it is wrong to lie, find ways to live more truthfully.
- Respect yourself and others. People who grow up in abusive situations may find this difficult, but ultimately very fulfilling when they achieve it...
- Overview of your problems. This includes realizing that it is possible to improve your situation with willpower and support.
- Realizing that we all have human weaknesses and letting go of any pride that may stand in your way to ask for help when you need it.
- Receive and support others.
While these are spiritual activities that can tremendously help most people working to overcome addictions, there are other spiritual activities that a smaller number of people can participate in. They are not essential to the recovery process, but they can lead to a happier life. Don’t pressure yourself to do this if you’re not ready.
- Discover your unique gifts and create a life that uses them.
- Forgive people who have hurt you in the past.
- I seek forgiveness from others.
- Gain new knowledge – “learn” from your addiction experiences.
- “Giving back” to the community – for example, volunteering or working in addiction or related fields.
An increasingly popular approach to healing, mindfulness-based therapy, has roots in Buddhist traditions. It is important to note, however, that the mindfulness found in psychotherapy is often portrayed as a mundane practice that is different from the type of mindfulness taught in Buddhism.
There has been a philosophical debate about how much mindfulness can really be separated from its religious origins, but for addiction treatment purposes one does not need to believe in a higher power to practice mindfulness..Mindfulness-based therapy can be a great way to get in touch with your spirituality without getting caught up in ambivalence or feelings of inconsistency between therapy and your beliefs (or lack thereof).