Spirituality and addiction recovery often go hand in hand. Spirituality may help an individual suffering from addiction find a new sense of purpose, balance, and wholeness.
Is Addiction A Mental, Physical, And Spiritual Condition?
Alcohol addiction (alcoholism) has been described as a mental, physical, and spiritual condition. Many experts believe that in order to fully recover from alcoholism, one must treat all three areas of the problem.
Addiction is considered a mental condition, because alcohol changes the most fundamental brain circuits, which over time causes a person to use the drug in order to feel normal. Alcohol can stop the brain from producing dopamine, and other neurotransmitters, which are responsible for feelings, motor skills, and emotions. Furthermore, alcohol abuse often contributes to mental conditions like anxiety, depression, and mania.
Alcohol addiction is also considered a physical condition, because as a person’s drinking increases, so does their tolerance to alcohol. With an increased tolerance, the body needs more alcohol to get the same effect, and may lead to a physical dependence on alcohol. Alcohol dependence leads to withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sweating when a person ceases to use the drug.
Addiction is also considered a spiritual condition, because a person suffering from it often loses sight of their moral beliefs, personal relationships, balance, and purpose. When spirituality is used as a part of an addiction treatment, it can teach a person to consider the feelings of others, while learning to love themselves in the process.
“Studies are confirming that people with lower levels of spirituality, meaning and purpose in their lives are at increased risk for substance use disorders,” (William White, M.A. and Alexandre Laudet, Ph.D.).
Benefits Of Spirituality In Addiction Recovery
A substance use disorder (SUD) is a universal term used to describe a condition that occurs when alcohol or other drugs cause significant problems with a person’s health, home, or work. SUDs include alcohol addiction, and alcohol abuse.
A person in addiction recovery can benefit from spiritual practices in many ways, including increased sense of self-worth, self-esteem, and an ability to find inner-peace in times of crisis. Spirituality may help a person learn to live life on life’s terms without having to pick up a drink, or drug. Some of the other benefits of spirituality in recovery are:
- reduced stress
- better sleep
- relapse prevention
- improved relationships
- helping others with addiction
- improved quality of life
- ability to manage emotions
- improved sense of self
- improved understanding of philosophy, and theology
Spirituality has several meanings, but one simple idea, which is the path to find purpose. In many ways, spirituality is the concept of working for something much larger than self. There are also many different spirituality practices used in addiction treatment, all of which are meant to help an individual find purpose, mental wellness, and meaning to life.
The most common spiritual addiction treatment practices include:
Mindfulness Meditation helps individuals focus on the present moment, in a non-judgemental way. Mindfulness is made up of remembering, awareness, and attention. Mindfulness practices are meant to help patients become less-judgemental, cope with stress, and become connected with self as well as others. Mindfulness practices include running, breathing, and yoga.
Metta Meditation helps individuals replace resentment or anger towards others with love, and acceptance. Metta meditation also helps people love, and forgive themselves, to calm their minds. Metta meditation helps to remove negativity, forgive others, and prevent relapse as a result of a fuller, more loving life.
Gratitude helps individuals learn to happy with the life they have. Many people suffering from an alcohol addiction are full of self-pity, guilt, remorse, and depression. Learning to be grateful for the life, relationships, and purpose given can help an individual have a positive outlook on their own recovery.
Creativity helps individuals regulate emotions, cope with loss, increase joy experienced, and focus on something other than alcohol/drugs. Creativity supports addiction treatment by helping patients use art, music, or creative writing to describe their pain, or emotions. Art and music are known to help reduce stress, and give purpose.
Prayer helps to heal a heart that has been overrun with negativity, or disbelief that a person can overcome addiction. Prayer may help an individual overcome anxiety, stress, and replace feelings of doubt with feelings of hope. Prayer has been used in the spiritual battle against addiction for many years, and has played a major role in the direction and focus of 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
Difference Between Spirituality And Religion
Spirituality can be incorporated into religion, or belief in a metaphysical being. Yet in a more grounded sense, spirituality focuses on the things done on earth to make a person’s purpose greater, life fuller, and personal relationships stronger. Spirituality has also been used to describe a life lived within the guidelines of a higher power, or God, but it doesn’t always have to.
Religion is focused on the same kind of principles as spirituality, however, there is often a focus on what happens after life on earth, especially when certain “spiritual guidelines” are followed.
In a focus-group study by the National Library of Medicine, one participant stated that: “If you want to stay clean, eventually you will get a relationship with a higher power. It may not be God, so to speak, but you have to find something greater than yourself.” Spirituality addiction treatment aims to help individuals understand that even if they’re unable to overcome addiction alone, they don’t have to, and there’s help both within, and outside the self.
Spirituality And 12-Step Recovery
Spirituality plays a major role in the 12-step addiction treatment approach, which was made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous. Three key ideas that predominate for 12-step recovery are acceptance, surrender, and active involvement in the group. Each of the key factors of 12-step recovery help a person to see the bigger picture, and also gives them a sense of belonging.
The 12-step recovery approach teaches individuals about acceptance, and that they’re unable to safely drink alcohol. It also helps people surrender to a higher power, and understand the role of the fellowship, while realizing that they’re part of something much bigger. Active involvement in 12-step recovery not only allows people help themselves, it helps others overcome their addiction as well.
Reach out to AlcoholTreatment.net to learn more about spirituality and addiction treatment.
For More Information Related to “Spirituality And Addiction Recovery” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From AlcoholTreatment.net:
National Institute on Drug Abuse—12-Step Facilitation Therapy