The Spiritual Side of Addiction Treatment
Rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction often focuses on four key areas: mental health, physical health, social support, and spirituality. The spiritual aspect does not necessarily revolve around a specific religion, though some churches and pastors do provide support and counseling for substance abuse. Instead, recovery literature and support groups often encourage people to appeal to a higher power.
Spirituality in Support Groups
Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, two well-known support groups for drug and alcohol addictions, partly rely on spirituality in their shared recovery model, the 12-step program. The first step in this model is similar to the first recovery step noted by mental health professionals, which is the act of acknowledging a problem.
The first step is somewhat controversial, however, because it asks people to admit they are powerless over their addictions. In the second and third steps, people then turn to God or their higher power for guidance and control. Some people struggle with this aspect of the 12-step model for several reasons, one of which is the need and desire to feel in control of their own recovery. Following this model does not necessarily require people to assume they have no control over their lives, though. The primary concept is admitting that life has become unmanageable with drug or alcohol abuse, and “higher power” refers to each person’s understanding of God. For some people, this may mean tapping into their consciences for guidance.
Additional spiritual aspects of the 12-step model include taking a moral inventory, asking God to remove shortcomings and character defects, seeking forgiveness from others, and praying or meditating for strength and knowledge. For more information on 12-step programs and other treatment options for addiction, call 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? .
Belief Vs. Action
While faith and spiritual beliefs can help people cope with addiction, actions inspired by spirituality or religion can also be beneficial to recovery. One such act is service to others. Helping others cope with their addictions, or helping others in any manner, can help improve a person’s confidence and self-esteem. Serving others can also help people shift their focus away from their own struggles and urges, if only temporarily. This is a primary component of the 12-step model, also, as group members are encouraged to support each other and reach out to people who need help.
Another action, which is also part of NA and AA, is to seek forgiveness from others. Reaching out to people who were hurt by the addiction can help mend relationships and increase the number of positive relationships for social support. Sometimes, people in recovery can also benefit from forgiving those who have hurt them. This not only mends some relationships, it can also help people overcome negative thoughts and emotions regarding others.
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