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Spirituality and Addiction: How the Two are Related?

Spirituality is a difficult concept to define. The idea of spiritualism or being spiritual often means and feels differently for everyone. The most common definition of spirituality involves a connection to a higher power or something greater than we know ourselves to be. For some, this is defined as God, The Spirit, Universe, energy, etc. How you define being spiritual will likely be different than someone else, which makes pinpointing a clear definition of what it means to be spiritual complicated at best. 

One thing is clear, however, and that is that addiction and spirituality are connected. There is a clear connection that is often visible between spirituality and addiction and recovery. When you are actively struggling with addiction, there is often a disconnect with what you deem spiritual. When you are working on your recovery, a form of spiritual practice is essential, and for many, a connection to spirit becomes a cornerstone of lasting sobriety. 

Is Being Spiritual the Same Thing as Being Religious?

Spirituality and religion are often spoken of in the same breath; however, they are not one and the same. Though all religions emphasize spiritualism as part of faith, it is possible to be spiritual without being religious or a member of organized religion. There are several ways in which religion and spirituality differ. First, while religion and religious practice are organized with “rules,” spirituality is not. Spiritualism is more of an individual practice centered on your sense of peace and purpose. Also, you don’t have to practice both. One can be spiritual but not necessarily practice or subscribe to a chosen faith. Conversely, practicing a set of religious beliefs does not automatically make you spiritual. 

Why Is Spirituality Incorporated into Addiction Recovery?

Depending on one individual belief system, treatment programs that incorporate a spiritual element may or may not be beneficial. A growing body of evidence indicates that spirituality can be a significant predictor of recovery and/or improvements in treatment outcomes. Also, focus groups have shown that incorporating voluntary spiritual discussion into treatment is desirable for many. The keyword is voluntary. Addiction affects everyone differently, and therefore, treatment must be designed to address each person’s unique needs. Where spiritual conversation and programming may help one person, they may not be beneficial or comfortable for another. 

Spirituality has been a component of addiction treatment for many years in some form. Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in the 1930s, is founded on the premise that addiction is a disease that affects the whole person (mind, body, and soul). Founder Bill W. believed people who struggled with addiction (as he himself once did) that those afflicted by substance were not only physically and psychologically sick but also “spiritually sick.” Consequently, seeking support from a Higher Power, whether God as defined in a religious context or a God of their own choosing, has been part of AA’s 12-steps and many similar programs for decades. 

All aspects of substance abuse treatment are highly personalized. Due to the very nature of addiction, they must be to ensure the highest possibility of success. Choosing to embrace spirituality and the path for incorporating spiritual options into addiction treatment is also unique to the person seeking help. Regardless of your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), there may be scientific evidence to indicate the ways acknowledging (spiritually) a higher power can support you on the path to recovery. Conversely, it may not, depending on your beliefs. These unique and individual differences related to spiritualism further underscore the necessity for individualized, target addiction recovery that focuses on the person, not the addiction. If you are ready to seek addiction treatment, reach out to Relevance Recovery today. Let our caring and compassionate treatment team work with you to create a treatment plan that meets your personalized needs and goals. 

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