Given the culture we live in today, with what seems to be its increasing tendencies toward commercialism, materialism and secularism, many of us who seek recovery from a substance use disorder (a.k.a. chemical dependency, addiction to alcohol or drugs) find it surprising to hear that developing spirituality, living according to spiritual principles, and/or nourishing our soul may be considered a vital component in the recovery process. (Note: It’s important to note “spirituality,” as referred to here, is not meant to convey religiosity or adherence to any particular religion, belief or creed.)
The fact is, there are plenty of challenges to the healing, nurturing, restoring and renewing of our spirit after the months, years or decades of self-abuse and struggle we’ve typically experienced when caught up in the throes of addiction. So to help you empower your spiritual growth and develop a stronger spiritual foundation in your new life in recovery, here are six approaches to consider. If you feel drawn to one (or more) of them, there are resources online, at your local library or at a local treatment center to assist you in your research and exploration or to help you with any questions you might have.
1) Identify what you can be grateful for. It’s commonly said in recovery circles, “Grateful addicts don’t use.” Take time each day to recognize what gifts, opportunities or blessings you currently have in your life, and allow yourself to feel gratitude and appreciation rise up within your heart, which has a natural way of uplifting your spirit.
2) Take some time each day to spiritually connect. Regardless of what or who you deem to be your source of spirituality, life, inspiration, vitality and/or goodness, each of us can benefit by giving extra attention to that source—the point is to regularly deepen that connection through meditation, prayer, contemplation or by whatever means or actions bring you closer to your “source” or “Higher Power”… whatever word/phrase works for you.
3) Share the spiritual journey. Find someone in your recovery network who is similarly seeking to develop a more empowered sense of spirituality… and then start connecting with them on a regular basis. Agree to phone each other daily or meet up once a week, with an openness to studying or reflecting aloud with each other spiritual topics of mutual interest.
4) Be of service to others. Most of us would agree that in our addiction, we were self-centered and selfish, completely ignoring what anyone else wanted or needed. We can enhance our spiritual life in recovery by turning 180 degrees in the direction of helping others. Whether it be assisting someone in our families, the community or our recovery network, serving the needs of others is a win-win beyond parallel, connecting us to humanity itself—in a personal, face-to-face manner—while simultaneously nurturing our spirit.
5) Act with integrity. When you show through your actions that you’re reliable, honest and can be counted upon, you’re deepening your spirit in action. By doing what you say you’re going to do and following through on your commitments, you’re simultaneously strengthening your sense of self-worth and demonstrating to others you’re responsible and can be trusted.
6) Exercise your power to choose. We often hear in recovery circles about the importance of “doing the next right thing for the right reason.” Even when we’re faced with challenging situations or temptations, we always have the freedom to choose. Growing spiritually means proactively opting to “take the high road” in such times, acting on spiritual principles, rather than base-level instincts or our old patterns of acting out.
By taking time each day to strengthen the sense of spirituality in our lives, we’re deepening a core part of our recovery and providing ourselves with greater assurance that, just for today, we’ll stay clean and sober, having found a new way of life free from active addiction.