For many, there can be a hesitation to reach out for help with an addiction because they have heard that recovery emphasizes spirituality. Everyone has a unique perspective on what spirituality is. Many associate spirituality with religion which can make it challenging to reframe their mindset. This association can make some reject the idea of treatment because they may:
- Be agnostic
- Be atheist
- Have no experience with religion and feel uncomfortable with it
- Not want to feel controlled by religion
- Have had a bad experience with a religious organization
- Have witnessed or experienced things that make them question why a God would allow those things to occur
- Not agree with religious teachings
If someone is not comfortable with religion or does not want to associate with it, there is no need to justify it. The recovery process is unique for everyone and religion is not for everyone, but that does not mean spirituality is out of reach too. While some find spirituality through religion, others find their spirituality in other practices or experiences not associated with any religious organization.
What is Spirituality?
Although spirituality is usually associated with religion, it is a broader concept that can have a variety of meanings. Spirituality can relate to how a person connects to themselves, to others, or to the world around them. For some, spirituality helps them find the meaning of life or their purpose. For others, spirituality is about something bigger than the human experience; it is about nature, God, or a higher power. Regardless of what spirituality represents to you, it is often connected to life questions, morality, and related ideas, such as:
- Defining your moral compass – differentiating between what is right or wrong based off what you feel or think, not what religion defines
- How you live your life in relation to others and allowing your moral compass to guide your decisions
- How you treat yourself and those around you
- Gaining new perspective on how you view problems and how you can improve them
- Understanding that everyone has faults; everyone has made mistakes and no one is perfect
- Having the space in your heart to both ask for help and provide guidance when it is needed
How Spirituality Helps in Addiction Treatmen
Spiritual growth can have numerous benefits both physically and mentally. In addiction treatment, spirituality provides a safe place to explore beliefs and reflect. It can help many think outside of themselves, provide inner peace, and consider how they want to live their lives moving forward. Some of the ways exploring spirituality improves the recovery experience include:
- Spirituality improves connectedness with others: Many of the practices that encourage spiritual exploration also involve community. This allows you to spend time with others who share similar interests and beliefs. It facilitates the growth of new friendships rooted in healthy connections and allows support networks to develop.
- It encourages healthy living: Much of spirituality is rooted in treating yourself and those around you with kindness. Rather than using drugs or alcohol or engaging in unhealthy behaviors, people are encouraged to make healthier choices and treat their bodies better. This can improve overall lifestyle and encourage a person to stay on track in recovery.
- It increases a person’s ability to feel compassion and empathy for others: Many spiritual practices encourage people to reflect on their thoughts, behaviors, and past actions to make better choices from themselves in the future. It can help you better understand yourself and pay more attention to how you interact with the world around you.
- It provides a healthy outlet for negative emotions: Rather than turning to substances to escape negative emotions, spirituality encourages you to work through it and find ways to cope with them in a healthy way. This lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, and improves mental and physical health. Having a healthy way to deal with inevitable negative emotions can make them easier to manage and reduce the risk of relapse in the future.
Ways to Explore Spirituality
There are numerous ways to explore spirituality. Not all practices will be equally effective for you. Because spiritual exploration is a highly individualized experience, it is important to try various practices to find what resonates with you most. Some common practices include:
- Meditation: Meditation is increasing in popularity across many addiction treatment programs. The practice involves silencing your inner voice, focusing on your breathing, and practicing mindfulness. Meditation can be performed anywhere by anyone, but it takes time to learn how to do it effectively. Set some time aside to go to a comfortable environment, sit (or lie down), and focus on your breathing and body awareness. As you focus on this, your thoughts will gradually grow quieter. This practice lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and decreases anxiety.
- Yoga: Yoga is another popular practice in many treatment programs. Much like meditation, it can be performed in almost any environment by many people. It begins with small, easy positions and gradually increases in range and difficulty as you grow in the practice. Yoga has numerous physical and mental benefits including weight loss, reduced stress, improved strength, and improved mood. Yoga largely focuses on silencing the mind by focusing on breathing techniques and stretching.
- Journaling: While this is often overlooked as a spiritual practice, taking the time to explore your feelings and experiences can help you become more introspective. As you begin to better understand your own thoughts and feelings through this practice, it also helps you be more mindful of other people’s feelings. Writing can also help you make better sense of difficult situations, understand yourself and others more clearly, and work through stress more easily. Instead of allowing negative thoughts and feelings to pile up inside your mind, you can instead explore them on paper and work through them in a healthy way.
- Practice gratitude: While expressing your gratitude may seem like a basic action, it can actually improve your outlook on life and improve your relationship with others. It is easy to let the negative things take precedence in your mind, but taking the time to reflect and appreciate the good things in life can have physical and mental benefits. It lets those around you know that you notice and appreciate what they do and it helps you keep things in perspective. Focusing on what you are grateful for can improve mood, reduce stress, and strengthen your empathy for others.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.