Entering recovery for addiction to alcohol and drugs means a person goes through many different new experiences. People often reference having a spiritual awakening in recovery. How they define this term depends on each individual and their own experiences.
An argument can be made that addiction itself is akin to a religion. Those who are lost to addiction to drugs and alcohol pursue their need for it with an almost religious fervor. It becomes the center of their world. They devote a lot of time to engaging in the addiction, often placing its importance above all other things in their lives.
Once the distraction of living under the cloud of a substance abuse disorder begins to lift, people naturally want to replace their addiction with something healthy. This is where the pursuit of a spiritual awakening in recovery can come in for many people. They believe that the addiction itself did not come from a lack of spiritualness, but the void left behind can be filled with a spiritual awakening.
Defining a Spiritual Awakening in Recovery
Religious and spiritual beliefs come in innumerable forms. They can be influenced by things like family belief systems, community standards, and how a person was raised. Some people define spiritual awakenings strictly within the parameters of organized religion. It might be one they already belong to or one they previously renounced. It might also be a particular faith that they discover is a good fit for them while in recovery.
Other people apply a more liberal interpretation of spirituality. Many modern 12-step groups today encourage their members to define their higher power in terms that make sense for them. They may view their higher power as being centered around things like nature, science, love, relationships, or newfound self-esteem. They use this lens to help achieve their personal spiritual awakenings.
Psychology Today refers to a spiritual awakening in recovery as a natural occurrence. It identifies one of the main reasons people become vulnerable to addiction as their need to compensate for difficult emotions and troubling life situations. People who have a history of things like trauma or mental health issues become vulnerable to developing a substance abuse disorder. Individuals who live with consistently painful emotions or living situations also risk this. They often use alcohol or drugs to fill the empty and painful voids in their lives.
When those substances are removed due to becoming sober, a natural inclination to replace them begins. Many define a spiritual awakening in recovery as the act of learning to replace the unhealthy coping skills with ones that are healthy and long-lasting. It involves becoming the new, improved version of one’s former self. People in recovery begin to face their emotions head-on instead of self-medicating with substances. They rejoin life via a variety of avenues. These can include healing relationships with family and friends, jumpstarting their careers, planning a return to school, or setting personal goals.
12-Step Groups and Spirituality
12-step groups count finding a higher power among their recovery steps. Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, once famously said, “An alcoholic is a fellow who is ‘trying to get his religion out of a bottle,’ when what he really wants is unity within himself, unity with God. . .” Many who find success in working on their recovery in a 12-step based group use this idea as a jumping-off point. Its importance as one of the steps that must be completed inspires a lot of people. They pursue identifying a higher power and incorporating it as part of their sobriety.
12-step programs often promote the idea that a spiritual awakening helps connect a person to things both great and small. This means that the awakening aids people in embracing larger goals, such as working on staying sober every day. It can mean constantly committing to things like therapy appointments, support group meetings, and taking charge of one’s physical health.
It can also mean a person training themselves to deal with the little, mundane things in life as part of their recovery. For example, someone who lives knee-deep in addiction often ignores things like housekeeping, cooking, and personal hygiene. None of those activities may feel terribly exciting compared to the immediate payoff of drinking or abusing drugs.
A spiritual awakening provides a guidepost that helps teach a person in recovery not to neglect daily chores. Taking a shower, doing basic housework chores, and making sure to eat regular, healthy meals all count as self-care. For these people, every time they engage in their new pattern of healthy choices, they experience part of their spiritual awakening.
How to Begin Defining a Spiritual Awakening That Fits You
When a person finds it difficult to define and experience a spiritual awakening in recovery for themselves, they can find guidance. Some things to consider include:
- Asking fellow 12-step members what works for them
- Discussing spiritual awakenings with a therapist or other treatment provider
- Reading books and websites that give overviews of the subject
- Talking to spiritual leaders in the local community
- Creating a list of goals for what a spiritual awakening might look like and how to go about accomplishing it
- Being patient as the process begins to happen
Keep in mind that a spiritual awakening in recovery will be a long-term process. Like any journey worth taking, look out for the beautiful moments that happen along the way. Documenting the awakening in journal form can help. This ensures a person gives themselves credit for milestones achieved and appreciates them. They can ask someone on their treatment team to help them create a clear picture of their progress.
Treatment for Addiction in Texas
If you need help recovering from addiction to alcohol or drugs, Casa Colina can help. We offer long-term recovery programs in a luxury, residential treatment facility for men. Our Dallas area location provides the perfect backdrop to leave your addiction behind and learn to embrace recovery.
Contact us here to get started on recovery and the new you today. We will be happy to tell you about the multiple treatment options we offer.