Addiction – It is More Than Physical Dependence
Many people are surprised to learn that sobriety is a spiritual journey. Most tend to believe that addiction is nothing more than a physical dependence on alcohol or drugs. This is just not true.
Drug and alcohol addiction is as much a spiritual malady as it is a physical illness. This is why it is so important for people to develop a spiritual practice in recovery once they get sober.
Detoxification and total abstinence from drugs and alcohol is how we address the physical aspect of substance abuse. A spiritual practice is how we address our need for spiritual health in sobriety. Addressing both of these aspects of the disease of addiction is essential to the recovery process.
Self-Centered Addiction Robs Us of a Spiritual Connection
Drug and alcohol addiction negatively impacts every area of life. This includes relationships, finances, employment, physical health, emotional wellbeing and – you guessed it – spirituality.
Many people have no problem understanding the way addiction causes a spiritual disconnection. Others struggle with this concept.
When we are addicted to drugs or alcohol, our number one priority becomes getting the next hit, fix, pill, drink, or drug. In the pursuit of the perfect high, we almost completely abandon any sense of morality or ethical behavior. We become completely self-centered in the course of our addiction.
It is not uncommon for addicted people to lie, cheat, steal, or beg so we can get high or drunk. We often lose any sense of connection to a Higher Power and our fellow man. We continue to sink deeper into our own darkness until we ultimately lose ourselves. This is the painful truth about addiction.
The Spiritual Consequences of Addiction
Hitting rock bottom can be compared to a type of spiritual bankruptcy. With this experience comes extreme shame and guilt for those who are newly sober. However; it is almost always the catalyst for a profound personal transformation.
Most addicted people do not understand that they suffer from a disease. Self-seeking behavior is a direct consequence of this illness. Self-obsession can lead to extreme loneliness, emptiness, depression, a feeling of disconnectedness, and a total loss of direction and purpose. Very simply put, sobriety without spirituality makes for one miserable experience.
This is why we encourage our patients to develop a spiritual practice in recovery at Ashley. We include holistic practices in every treatment plan because we want to help patients heal their bodies, open their minds, and lift their spirits.
Feeling connected through a spiritual practice restores hope, promotes healing, and repairs broken relationships.
What is a Spiritual Practice?
A spiritual practice is an intentional activity that you engage in regularly to enhance your own spirituality. This can mean different things for different people.
The beauty of developing a spiritual practice in recovery is that you can do whatever you want! Many people choose yoga, meditation, chanting, or prayer. Some attend religious services. Others read certain literature. However; you do not have to follow the mainstream or go with popular practices.
Maybe exercising is your thing. Perhaps you find that spending time with animals is a spiritual practice for you. Or, you might feel the most connected when you are cooking a meal for your family.
Make it your goal to find a spiritual practice to incorporate into your life. Continue your search until you find what works for you. Once you have discovered your own personal spiritual practice, make it a priority in your life. Do it daily, or as frequently as you feel comfortable – but be consistent.
It is Perfectly Okay if You Don’t Believe in God
The term “spirituality” is a broad concept that allows for many different practices and perspectives. Generally, it involves a feeling of connection to something bigger than yourself. It also encompasses your own search for meaning and purpose in life.
Many people who get into recovery do not believe in God. That is okay. You do not have to believe in God to enjoy a spiritual practice in your life.
You Don’t Have to Be a Guru to Benefit from a Spiritual Practice
Many people shy away from developing a spiritual practice in recovery because of fear. They may have a fear of looking foolish. Or, they may be afraid that they won’t “do it right.” Others are afraid of what they might find if they start seeking spirituality in their daily lives.
Not to fear. No worries. No pressure. No stress.
You have the right to develop your own spiritual practice in your own way, on your own time, on your own terms. You are not being graded. There will not be a test. You can’t fail.
You can be foolish or you can be serious. You can explore this practice alone or in a group. You can revisit the spirituality of your childhood or you can create a new understanding of what it means in your life. It’s all up to you. It is YOUR very own personal practice, and it is sacred.
Don’t be afraid to discover your true nature. You will find that spiritual health will bring you peace, joy, balance, a sense of belonging, and a desire to continue to stay sober.