Spirituality is a term thrown around quite a bit these days. We use it to describe facets of health, well-being, yoga, eating, morals—but what, exactly, is spirituality? The good news is this: It is anything and everything you want it to be. Spirituality can incorporate religion and a belief in God, but it doesn’t have to. Anyone can be spiritual, as spirituality is more of a personal set of beliefs and goals and less of a designated list of beliefs centered on a higher being. This can be crucial in dealing with addiction treatment and mental health.
Being spiritual is all about the personal journey and self-discovery, about figuring out what matters to you, the individual, in terms of goals, morals, and beliefs. This journey, while scary, can be incredibly liberating and freeing, especially for those suffering from addiction.
Many people are familiar with the 12-step program for Alcoholics Anonymous and other substance abuse treatment and outpatient detox groups, but there’s a misconception that this 12-step program is centered solely on religion. It’s not. It’s centered around spirituality.
Spirituality can be many different things and looks different for each person. For one person, spirituality may include a daily walk through the park. For another, it may be Sunday dinners with a church group. For another, it may be learning to paint again after years of putting aside the hobby. For others, training a pet or volunteering with the homeless helps them feel more “like themselves.” Addiction can numb an addict’s personality—spirituality can help free it.
Finding spiritual experiences can be intimidating, but looking for the simple things in life—good food, trustworthy friends, even just appreciating a simple sunset or admiring the scent of fresh-cut grass—can be spiritual. These experiences can help reawaken what’s lost through addiction.
For those who are resistant to embracing a form of spirituality, you may need to ask why. Is it because you’ve given up the idea that you can be whole again after substance abuse? Or because you haven’t yet found what works for you? Whatever the reason may be, studies after studies have proven that embracing spirituality is a key component to recovery.
Spirituality and Morality
Another major facet of substance abuse treatment and mental health is the focus on the self and what our morals are. For many, morals are inherent to who we are. For example, many people view lying as immoral. If this is something you care about, learning to tell the truth again will feel almost joyous, as it is reconnecting your true self with your current self.
Morals can be many things: telling the truth, helping those in need, respecting others, allowing your real personality to shine. These aspects of ourselves are often lost through drug abuse. Addiction causes people to lose their center—drugs replace all other priorities. Whether you notice it in yourself or in a loved one, you will see that addiction is all-consuming.
Addiction will force otherwise good people to lie, steal, and cheat those they love in search of that next high. Their days no longer focus on eating well, working, or spending time with family, but instead focus on how to get drugs—the money, the time, the high, the comedown. With their entire lives focused on one thing, drugs or alcohol, addicts lose what is most important to them. This is why a focus on mental health and behavioral health through spirituality is so critical.
Morality is a part of spirituality because it is what helps us lead our truest lives. Our morals shape our goals and beliefs and, in harmony with the universe and spirituality, can center our desires and future. This is what makes an addict successful: setting morals and goals and using them to steady and direct decisions. It can be considered a guiding compass.
Why Is Spirituality Important for Addiction Recovery?
Spirituality forces us to be honest with ourselves and others. It makes us look ourselves in the mirror and say what is important, what is real, and what is true. This is why it is an effective treatment for rehab facilities, addiction treatment, and behavioral health. It gives the addict something to focus on, other than a chemical high, and provides goals to strive toward.
Without morality and spirituality, many addicts fail to see why they should get or remain sober. Spirituality gives you that escape plan if you will, to turn to something other than drugs to cope with life and all the good and bad it can throw at us.
Spirituality allows us to reconnect with others. Instead of looking at others as a means to get more money or access to drugs, we can see them for the people they are: our mother, our friend, our neighbor. We can connect with their struggles and humanize them again. Drugs dehumanize others, and spirituality lets us see them as people with their own hopes and goals.
Relationships do not exist or grow for addicts—they are one-dimensional. Spirituality brings what’s missing in this situation back, and, rather than seeing others as a means to an end, permits us to see others as human beings like us.
Addiction also stifles our own personal growth by replacing hopes and dreams with one goal: drugs and the high. Spirituality can encourage growth again by allowing us to see our own potential. Through spirituality, we can renew interest in our favorite hobbies like reading or painting. We can reconnect with nature or knowledge. Furthering education becomes possible when our brains aren’t focused on getting high. Having a goal, like earning a degree or learning a new skill, can make drug abuse less appealing.
Creating New Spiritual Habits
So, now that you can see what spirituality does, how can you incorporate it into your recovery? Whether you are seeking treatment in an intensive outpatient treatment facility or another drug rehabilitation program, or you haven’t found something that works for you yet, you can begin practicing spiritual habits right now.
Not sure where to start? Think about things you used to enjoy like hobbies or your career. Did you write poetry or illustrate kids’ books? Do you fondly remember baking cookies with your mom or taking your dog for long runs? These seemingly small acts are critical to reminding you who you are and releasing the grip that addiction has on you. So, make them the new priority! It’s okay if you struggle with this list or remembering what you used to love. Friends and family can help you, and simply starting with one idea will put you on the right path.
Sign up for pottery or cooking classes with a friend. Borrow library books on how to do yoga or where the best hiking trails are. Find your passion. Be humble. This doesn’t have to be huge! This is all about stepping back into who you are, so it’s the little things like appreciating a night sky constellation and the first snow of the season that are keys to reconnecting to your humanity.
If you think drug addiction is stopping loved ones from reaching their potential, or you from reaching yours, don’t hesitate to seek out professionals! Rehabilitation and recovery are so much better with a team that’s on your side. BlueCrest Recovery Center is ready to help you find yourself again! The team knows how important spirituality is to your recovery. If you would like more information about BlueCrest Recovery Center, please contact the team at (973) 298-5776, or visit them online at www.bluecrestrc.com. There is no better time than the present!