What is a Spiritual Awakening in Recovery?

Recovery Talk About the Spiritual Awakening Process

If you are in recovery or know someone who is, you know the truth. Getting clean and sober is tough. Let’s just say recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is a physical and mental process. At SOBRLIFE, most of us are men and women in recovery, and we know that alcohol and drug addiction impacts the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of a person’s life and leaves them feeling empty and purposeless. For many of us, it also includes a spiritual component. The spiritual awakening process is personal and unique to each individual. In many ways, spirituality and recovery are connected. Read more about how spirituality can be a big part of addiction recovery with our latest blog from SOBRLIFE!

Spirituality in the 12-Step Program for Addiction Recovery

One of the most widely used methods of addiction treatment is the 12-step program format. The 12 Steps was first published in 1939 as a part of the Big Book, authored by Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob when the science of addiction was in its infancy. Yet the program has been around for decades and has been successful and effective. A big part of the program is having a power greater than yourself. Some of the steps aren’t strictly religious or spiritual practices, acknowledging a higher power and asking that higher power for help in recovery. The higher power, however, may be pictured as a big part of the process. Unfortunately, many people decide the 12-step program won’t work for them because they aren’t religious. In reality, the idea of a higher power isn’t religious.

The 12 Steps as a Framework for Recovery from Addiction

Letting go and letting God, for example, is a big slogan in AA and in groups where the 12-Steps are taught. At first glance, this might seem religious. The message however can be applied to anyone. It’s just asking us to stop worrying about the day-to-day details since stress is a big contributor to addiction and relapse. This is part of the AA approach as well, a process of personal transformation through making amends, working on one’s character defects and being of service to others who are struggling.

Spirituality vs Religion

Spiritual awakenings in recovery concept pic from SOBRLIFE
The words spiritual and religious are often used interchangeably but they don’t always mean the same thing. There are many faith-based recovery programs and some are attached to specific religious groups. However, a recovery program with a spiritual component is not necessarily religious.Religion is an organized belief system. It might be Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism or Islam. If you already identify with one of these belief systems then your version of spirituality might be a religious one. That can be one way to address the spiritual component of addiction treatment.Spiritual Awakening Outside of Religion On the other hand, you can be spiritual without being religious. Spirituality is a much broader term that includes religion as well as yoga, meditation, mindfulness and a desire to find meaning and connection. A spiritual journey in addiction recovery is about personal beliefs and developing a sense of self that connects to the world, exploring spirituality in a way that works for you. Spirituality can be finding your place in the universe or seeking a state often called enlightenment. You might feel spiritual when you are outside spending time in nature or you might feel spiritual when you are listening to orchestral music. Whether it’s a church or a walk in the woods your spirituality can be part of the recovery process. A spiritual path provides containment, energy, nourishment, and a supportive community so that those of us pursuing a sober path can find meaning and maintain our way in the face of the challenges life inevitably throws our way.

Fulfillment in Everyday Life through a Spiritual Journey

In pursuing sober lives, we (or at least our team in recovery in SOBRLIFE) that total health and wellness isn’t just the absence of disease. It’s also about finding purpose in life. Spirituality is one way to do that and can prevent the need for a relapse autopsy during our recovery by giving people real things to live for. Physiological needs are the most basic to health and survival. Then things like safety are necessary. While these provide sustenance and lay the foundation for happiness they aren’t enough for fulfillment.

Call it Fellowship or Community: Social Connections are Key

People also need community, a sense of belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. With all of these in place, it will be much easier to get through life in recovery and not be tempted to relapse. Spirituality is one way to include these in your life and foster spiritual growth that changes your perspective and gives you purpose. Spirituality can remind people of their place in the world. They can feel worthy of time, effort, and love. They can feel connected if they join a recovery group, a religious organization, or just a club that contemplates mindfulness or sobriety. Spiritual growth can also reduce stress and the need for control. Instead of worrying about every detail of the future we can learn to focus on the present. In our experience, spiritual transformation is key to long-term sobriety and personal change.

Mindfulness through Meditation

Woman meditation SOBRLIFE pic
A desire to use drugs or alcohol might be hiding a desire for something else entirely. Spiritual growth often includes meditation and mindfulness training. A major goal of addiction treatment is to prevent relapse. Patients are often taught that one way to address relapse risk is to learn the acronym HALT. HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Believe it or not, simply addressing the four basic human needs can often prevent relapse.

Recovery from Drugs and Alcohol is a Process

Mindfulness is a way of learning to identify each of these triggers. Hunger and thirst for example can be ignored in addiction. In recovery, we often have to relearn hunger cues and what foods are filling, nourishing and good for blood sugar balance. Being tired, lonely, and angry are also major causes of relapse. Each is a form of stress and stress is the precursor to countless relapses. If you can start to identify these as they arise you will have a much better chance of preventing relapse. Mindfulness and meditation can also be a time of stillness and reflection. Many people struggling with addiction don’t make time for this and being alone with their thoughts isn’t appealing. In recovery patients will learn that reflection is often a good option that leads to better mental health and change.

A Higher Power Outside of the Individual

Whether you believe in a god, multiple gods, the idea of a higher power, or the wonder of nature finding something outside of the individual is a big part of recovery and can lead to your own spiritual awakening. Recovery is a personal journey unique to each individual and it’s important to acknowledge and honor that uniqueness. Addiction can be lonely. Many recovering addicts feel like they are alone. Spirituality reminds us we are part of something bigger and gives us a sense of connection. Recovery from substance abuse has to include scientific evidence-based approaches. But a spiritual component can also be helpful (and is often based on tangible evidence and benefits, such as the documented health benefits of prayer). When spirituality is part of the recovery process many patients find more awareness, peace and fulfillment in their daily lives.

Join the Recovery for All with SOBRLIFE!

Whether you just got out of rehab or are recovering and lost your way through an existential crisis we hope you found something helpful! Follow SOBRLIFE for the latest resources, and new fresh and clean content, and check out our new release SOBR WATER now available on Amazon!