A Spiritual Solution to the Problems of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

I have been attempting to be spiritual every day for the last two years since I entered treatment. It is not especially easy for me to write about spirituality, as I feel that I don’t know enough to be definitive on the subject. Though it may be hard to be specific, as spirituality is a very broad topic, I will attempt to paint a picture of a spiritual solution to the problem of alcoholism and drug addiction. I should mention that there is no wrong path to this answer, while emphasizing that this is a solution that worked for me.

The twelve step model of recovery provides a spiritual solution to the problem of alcohol and drug addiction. It is easy to confuse the spirituality of the program with religion, as I did in my early days. The spiritual solution provided inAlcoholics Anonymous and other twelve step programs is not the same as religion, insofar as that it does not mandate a particular belief in a god or gods. It simply asks that the drug or alcohol addicted individual be willing to believe in a power greater than himself or herself. In my opinion, this is really a “no-brainer” when looking at it from a logical standpoint. One individual does not make it rain, snow, or hail. A person does not make the sun shine nor control other people. It is plain to me that there is something (call it God, physics, nature…) that does what we human beings cannot, and allows the functioning of the world in which we live. Sometimes the higher power can be the belief in the basic goodness of self, or the belief in the power of a program like St. Chris, or a person like a sponsor, or a group of people like AA to help. 

For the drug addict and alcoholic, the choice to believe in a power greater than oneself is not such an easy one when it is not fully understood. The addicted person’s experience often tells him that a belief in a higher power has strong (and possibly negative) connotations attached to it, through religious views or times when he or she was let down by others.  Often, mustering up the willingness to believe in this power becomes the biggest block that stands between the addicted individual and recovery. S/he becomes stuck equating spirituality with religion or weakness, and resist. Many choose to drink or drug themselves to death before submitting to something so intangible, a “power” that they cannot feel, touch, taste or smell. The insanity of this notion is astonishing, but that is a topic for another post.

I know, from personal experience, that my previous religious run-ins caused me undue difficulty with the concept of spirituality. I was raised in a particular religion and simply didn’t like the whole church idea. Rejecting the church in which I grew up, I turned to science and logic as my higher power, thus, placing myself in control. Luckily, I discovered that within twelve step program solutions are provided as spiritual “baby steps” along which to grow. My first higher power was the concept of nature. After all, I did not make trees grow or the sun set. 

Twelve step meetings provide additional entry level higher powers such as the meetings themselves. After all, the meetings and people who attend are entities upon which one can rely for social support and hope. A person early in recovery may not yet be able to believe in a higher power, but s/he can believe that the group believes, and sees that that power is working in their lives. Another example of a higher power is the idea of karma, which is a preferred concept for the more eastern oriented of the twelve step fellowships.  The western counterpoint is “Whatsoever you do to the least of your brethren, that you do unto me.”
These examples are simply beginning points to accessing a spiritual life and help facilitate the working of the twelve steps. The belief in a higher power need not be based in a conception of God. In fact, I know some people who are practicing atheists and agnostics, have worked the twelve steps and are sober to this day. A spiritual life is all inclusive. When I began to recover, nearly all of these concepts were far too abstract for me. It took me a while until I began to actually believe in what I was doing. Much of that belief came from evidence. Once I saw that my connection to a higher power was working, my belief strengthened. I began with an ounce of willingness and that is all. For me, the rest seemed to fall into place as long as I tried to grow in the spiritual direction.

Regardless of what kind of spirituality one has, or would even like to have, this solution is one that works. Initially, it may be difficult to try to walk a spiritual path, but just like many other things in life, it becomes easier (and more fulfilling) with practice. The most surprising thing I have found is that there is peace in this kind of life, a peace that an addict like me didn’t even know was possible in an un-medicated state… Article Link…

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