For many years, spirituality in one form or another has been a part of addiction recovery. The belief that one must surrender to a power greater than themselves has been a guiding principle in recovery for a long time. However, spirituality is a personal thing. Some people may not feel comfortable, or even able to, connect with a spiritual component in order to heal from addiction. The question “Do I need spirituality to heal from addiction?” is actually not something that anyone can tell anyone else. The answer to that question is as unique as each one of us is, and only each of us as individuals can answer it for ourselves.
In choosing whether to pursue spirituality to recover from addiction it is important to keep an open mind. Many who considered themselves non-spiritual have come to believe in some sort of higher power that helps them recover. As there are many ways to recover from addiction, it is suggested that we remain receptive to change and new ideas regarding spirituality. That said, the decision remains with oneself as they choose their path of recovery.
The most commonly known addiction recovery methods are 12-step based recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. In these types of programs, there are a series of steps that one does in order to bring about recovery. Many of these steps involve forming a relationship with, and coming to rely on, a power greater than oneself. Within the AA or NA model, it is encouraged to turn our will over to a power beyond our own and to seek help from that source. The continual seeking of a higher power and building a “god-consciousness” is effective in bringing about recovery for many who participate. That being said, it is a common mischaracterization that the higher power talked about in 12-step groups must be a “God”. Our higher power can be anything in these groups, as long as it is not yourself.
These groups are a tried and true method of recovery, with the spirituality focused on coming to understand a power greater than oneself. The 12-step model offers life-long support and meetings, as well as the opportunity for those in recovery to reach out and get help from others. As is true with all methods of recovery, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every person is different when it comes to their wants and needs, and other non-spiritual methods might be of interest to some.
The focus on spirituality as much as 12-step programs do, particularly for someone who is not interested in forming a spiritual belief system, can be detrimental to their recovery. While some members of 12-step groups take a heavy god-centered approach to recovery, but there are groups tailored for the agnostic or atheist addicts. This is important to consider as there are individuals with an aversion to spirituality or the religious undertones that may exist in some 12-step programs. As there is an increasing desire for recovery without spirituality, a method called SMART Recovery has emerged to help people regain control over their lives.
This model is growing very quickly and has proven to be successful, despite not having a spiritual element at all. There are only four steps in SMART Recovery, built around evidence-based treatment methods focused on managing life in the long term. These steps are intended to create sobriety that is self-reliant, as we learn the skills to cope and thrive under our own personal power, rather than relying on a higher power or our own spirituality. Using a non-spiritual method of recovery means that we can still have our own beliefs and even be spiritual if we choose, but does not inherently tie recovery to spirituality.
At the end of the day, spirituality is a personal choice. Many people find great strength in religion or spiritual practices, but the decision to tie that to recovery is ours. When we choose our treatment, we should always look at the choices available and choose the treatment that best serves us. We know what we need and where we stand spiritually. Recovery is difficult, and the decision on pursuit of spirituality rests on our shoulders. We should always look for ways to make it more authentic and empowering to us. This is our choice, so keeping that in mind we should choose the path that will yield the most successful result for us.
Spirituality has proven to be effective. Many who were not previously spiritual have been able to find a higher power that they can work with and rely on. Spirituality is not a requirement of recovery if you do not desire what it can bring you. There are programs that are not focused on spirituality, and allow choice regarding treatment methods. Keep an open mind, consider the options, and remember: you can always try a new path or program of recovery. In answering the question, “Do I need spirituality to heal from addiction?” only you can answer that question for yourself.
Choose your own adventure, with or without spirituality attached. Call AToN Center at (888) 535-1516 today.