Recovery is a fresh start through which people aim to find joy and purpose in everyday life without the need for substances. Without substances to turn to and help keep their mind off difficult times in life, people need something else to help ground them and keep them pushing forward, helping and caring for others around them in need. This is where spirituality comes into play. No matter your personal beliefs, spirituality is something every single person is capable of practicing, and doing so is a strong motivator to continue maintaining your sobriety.
What’s the difference between spirituality and religion?
- A common misunderstanding of the 12 Step Program is that it is grounded in religion and focused on serving one God. Most people tend to conflate spirituality with religion, and in doing so, shy away from finding a higher power because they associate it with religious practices that they may or may not be comfortable with. Spirituality and religion are two very different things – you don’t need to be religious at all to find liberation and comfort in spirituality.
- Religion is made up of rituals and prayers, and each religion has a set of doctrines or beliefs that they adhere to. There may also be specific conditions for membership, as well as an air of righteousness or judgement upon other religious groups or non-religious people. There are specific guidelines for communicating with religious gods.
- Spirituality, on the other hand, is anything that you personally believe in that gives you freedom and peace of mind. Spirituality is about remaining humble and grateful for life, accepting your powerlessness, and staying connected to a higher power – something bigger than yourself that serves as your driving force for making it through each day and meeting your needs. Your higher power can be whatever you desire – a god of your choosing, or a force of the universe, like nature. Your higher power can even be something as abstract as an idea. How you communicate with your higher power is up to you. There is no ‘right way’ to be spiritual.
Why is spirituality important for recovery?
- The human spirit is wired for connection. Without that connection, we have an empty void that we must fill. At that point, addiction issues begin to arise, as people lack that spiritual connection with a higher power and can potentially turn to drugs and alcohol to fill the void.
- Spirituality gives you a sense of identity and purpose. In active addiction, drugs and alcohol made it difficult to understand what your identity and purpose were – substances served to keep your mind off difficult topics like self-acceptance. An addict is living in ‘unreality,’ completely separated from their true thoughts, feelings, and relationships, and dealing with fear and isolation. This is often referred to as the ‘bottom,’ and is where many people become motivated by a need for change to finally reach out to a higher power and make that spiritual connection.
- Admitting you are powerless to your addiction is Step 1. The humility it takes to come to terms with that is only possible through spirituality. You have to find comfort and motivation in a higher power bigger than yourself, and look to that higher power for guidance, in order to be able to love, care for, and connect with others in your life.
- Embracing spirituality and finding your higher power opens up your life to spirit-nourishing practices such as meditation, mindfulness, reading, exercise, or anything else that makes you feel good and helps you grow. Spirituality pushes you out of your comfort zone and encourages you to dedicate time and effort towards bettering yourself. When you focus on improving your life and helping those around you, you’re much more likely to remain sober.
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About Fellowship Hall
For 50 years, Fellowship Hall has been saving lives. We are a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.