By Wesley Gallagher
If you know anything about addiction treatment, you’ve probably heard about 12-Step programs and the importance of spiritual counseling in the process. In fact, the second step in the series involves believing in a “higher power,” and many of the following steps explicitly mention God. So, you might find yourself asking, Does all recovery involve spirituality?
While not all recovery programs are as explicitly spiritual as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-Step courses, you’ll find that most, if not all of them, offer some type of spiritual outlet as an option. While it may not be for everyone, many find spirituality to be a vital component in their journey to wellness.
Spirituality can offer many benefits during recovery and beyond as you seek to live a sober and healthy life.
The Importance of Spirituality in Recovery
First, it’s important to note that at facilities like The Meadows and Gentle Path, people in recovery are not required to include any spirituality in their process. Because our treatment is tailored to each individual and their specific needs, we don’t force patients to have a specific spiritual aspect to their recovery.
However, decades of experience have shown the importance of spirituality in addiction treatment and the integral role it can play in a person’s recovery. Keep in mind that spirituality is not the same as religion, and even programs with a spiritual aspect allow for a broad range of views on what spirituality is. Verywell Mind describes spirituality as “part of the human experience in which we explore who we are and what our life is about.” How we go about doing that is up to each of us as individuals.
In a focus-group study on spirituality and addiction treatment published on NCBI, the majority of the people in recovery wanted to have a spiritual aspect to their treatment or believed there was a benefit to it. According to the study, other research over the years has show spirituality to have a significantly positive correlation with success in recovery. Studies have shown that levels of spirituality increase as recovery progresses, and levels of spirituality may be higher in individuals who have been successful in their healing journey. In retrospective studies, recovering addicts often cite spirituality as an important aspect of their recovery efforts. So, while incorporating a higher power is not at all necessary for treatment, it’s certainly something worth exploring.
How Spirituality Can Help in Recovery
Spirituality can offer many benefits during recovery and beyond as you seek to live a sober and healthy life. Verywell Mind lists the following benefits of seeking spiritual truth:
- Finding your moral compass and using it as a guide for how you live your life
- Learning to respect yourself and others
- Gaining perspective on your problems
- Realizing we all have weaknesses and letting go of pride that may keep you from seeking help when you need it
- Giving and receiving help
- Discovering your gifts and how to use them
- Forgiving people who have hurt you and seeking forgiveness from those you’ve hurt
- Gaining insight from your experiences of addiction
- Giving back to others
If you feel like you can’t make it through recovery alone, you’re right. And while having the help of others is a necessity, seeking the help of a higher power, whatever that looks like for you, may be just what you need to fully heal from your addiction and live a full and meaningful life.
Research over the years has show spirituality to have a significantly positive correlation with success in recovery.
Spiritual Counseling in Recovery
Some treatment programs have spiritual counseling for those looking to incorporate spirituality into their recovery. Kevin Berkes, a chaplain with Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, describes the role of a spiritual counselor as someone who can help patients further discover and connect with the richness of their inner spiritual life. This may include any of the following:
- Guided meditation
- Researching various spiritual practices of interest to the patient
- Connecting with a church or place of worship
- Praying together
- Playing spiritual songs
- Walking in nature together
- Talking through grief and loss
Anyone wondering how to find spirituality in recovery can take advantage of the presence of chaplains and spiritual counseling at treatment centers. While each program is different, you’re likely to find some form of spirituality in any type you seek. While you may think spirituality is not for you, you may find that it is indeed helpful for your recovery journey.
At Meadows Behavioral Healthcare centers, spirituality can be incorporated in whatever way a patient chooses, if at all. Participation in spiritual aspects of the program is optional, and a chaplain or spiritual counselor is available to support patients with spiritual matters or answer any questions they may have. No matter where you come from, we can help get you to where you want to be, in your spiritual journey and in your recovery journey as well.