Today I invite you to look at how spirituality can enhance addiction recovery.

Just the word “spirituality” could lead us in a number of directions as it’s one of those words we’re all likely to interpret very differently. So what do we mean by spiritual or spirituality in the context of addiction recovery?

For the purpose of this article, I’ll try to define and interpret the definition objectively and I’ll also use some personal experience of how it enhances my life and my addiction recovery so that any bias I may have is apparent.

Looking up the word spiritual and spirituality I find:

Spiritual – google search comes up with:
• relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
• relating to religion or religious belief.
• a religious song
Spirituality, according to the Royal Society of Psychiatry (a funny place to get a reference I know) involves:
• “the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than myself, something more to being human than sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or divine in nature”.

I know it’s a bit reductive, but I’ll settle on a general definition of [spiritual/spirituality] as something affecting us internally (in our soul or inner being) and something greater than ourselves (cosmic or divine in nature).

Spirituality may show up in us as,
• me seeking to get to know the inner me better, maybe me trying to reconnect with myself in some deeper way. Gabor Maté suggests that trauma causes a disconnection from the “self” as a means of coping with the traumatic event and recovery is us trying to reconnect with our true selves again.

• But what of the cosmic and the divine, outside of ourselves. That feeling of wonder or crushing loneliness when we look up at the stars? And how does the external (cosmic / divine) connect with the internal, the true-self (whether we are centred, whole, and connected to ourself or broken, in pain and disconnected from ourself).

There is no way I’m going to come up with words that are sufficient to address spirituality in any definitive way in terms of definitions alone. I think that for each of us it’s an intensely personal journey. However, whatever definition we settle on, and however it shows up in our lives, and in our addiction recovery, it can have an effect not only on our recovery but on the route of recovery we choose.

Spirituality can:
• Play a significant role in addiction recovery by providing us with a sense of purpose, meaning, and connection to something larger than ourselves.
• Encompass a wide range of beliefs and practices, including religious beliefs, meditation, prayer, yoga, or participation in a recovery support group.
• Enhance addiction recovery by helping us develop a deeper sense of self-awareness and connection to our emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. This awareness can help us identify triggers for substance use and develop more effective coping strategies.
• Provide us with a sense of hope and motivation to continue on the path of recovery, even in the face of challenges and setbacks.
• Offer a sense of comfort and strength during difficult times and provide a supportive community of like-minded individuals who share similar values and beliefs.
• Help us develop a greater sense of inner peace and fulfilment, which can lead to improved emotional and mental health.

Overall, the role of spirituality in addiction recovery is an individual choice and can be a valuable tool for promoting a holistic and sustainable approach to recovery.

For me, the internal (soul / inner self) and the external (cosmic / divine) has come together in the form of a faith. I identify as a Christian, I am part of a community of believers and attend church and small groups (prayer meetings, bible study) regularly.

However, I also identify as a person in long-term recovery from addiction and I find that too often “the church”, in the broad sense, identifies more with the world in terms of its relationship with alcohol and its understanding or tolerance of addiction recovery.

So my addiction recovery is definitely enhanced by my spirituality and faith but that same spirituality and faith can also present a challenge to my addiction recovery which feels like an inadequate place to stop but the aim wasn’t to resolve our understanding of spirituality but to start or add to the discussion about it.

I hope its whet your appetite to explore further what spirituality means for you and how is can enhance your addiction recovery.