Addiction and Spirituality

Getting addicted to substances whether it be alcohol or drugs, can bring in devastating effects within the life of an individual as well as the people around them. Because of this, early identification of substance abuse is important so that the same can be treated as soon as possible. Although, there are various ways of treating an individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, however, spirituality is the way through which the healing process is accelerated.

What Is Recovery From Substance Abuse Through Spirituality?

Recovering from substance abuse through spirituality can be defined as a procedure of realizing every mistake that took place when the individual was under drug or alcohol addiction. The result of this is that the person starts loving himself/herself. In other words, it can also be the process of re-discovering oneself after which one will be able to develop a better view of life and start believing that your life is meaningful and has a purpose to carry on.

Substance Abuse Recovery from Spirituality

There are many ways to attain recovery from substance abuse through spirituality. A popular way to get this done is to join different charismatic groups or support groups which have their aim diverted towards helping drug and alcohol addicts to recover from addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a popular group which implies spirituality within their treatment program. In addition, there are various other programs on the Internet which are useful in starting the journey towards recovery. The 12 step plan provided by the AA group includes spiritual growth being a part of their addiction recovery process. Many of the steps involve a fact that there is a greater being that is helpful in dealing with these issues. Additionally, two other steps in the AA addiction recovery plan indicate prayer and meditation.

Moreover, the 12 step recovery plan is categorized within three dimensions namely: physical, mental as well as spiritual, the spirituality plan is considered to be an inevitable process of the treatment program when dealing with addiction patients. The dimensions of spirituality cannot be defined in a scientific manner spiritual growth imposes a positive impact on the growth of a person and greatly helps in the healing process from substance abuse. It provides a sense of well-being within an addicted person which was not present otherwise. Furthermore, spirituality also empowers you to start living a life which is meaningful, healthy and has a purpose. This form of recovery from substance abuse has the ability to derive long term results which includes permanent changes within your lifestyle along with having a positive view of life.

Defining Spirituality

Human beings are the result of four essential components that work together to achieve balance and harmony: the physical component, emotional, social and spiritual.

Quite often it is thought that spirituality is synonymous with religion, but there is one important difference:

Spirituality is defined as a process of personal experience in the search for purpose and the meaning of life, a process of transcendence (Human is more than material existence), connectivity (be in contact with others, with nature or the divine) and values such as justice, honesty and trustworthiness, among others.

Religion refers to collective experiences of a group of people around a set of organized beliefs, rituals, ceremonies and traditions. Religiosity refers to the degree of adherence to the beliefs and practices of religion.

With the intervention of various medical equipment especially the Positive Emotron Tomography (PET), the practitioners come across o know that drug or alcohol, addiction is a brain disorder and as a matter of fact, the focus within the treatment plan is over the mind and body. Some spiritual process which is useful in the process includes prayer, fasting and meditation. In addition, religious as well as meditative practices are also gaining roots in the establishing as well as strengthening self control. Such ideas allow maintaining attention, repetitive chanting, and contemplation as well as maintain forced silence.

Research related to spirituality in the treatment of addictions

A lot of research on spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, yoga, Zen Buddhism and transcendental meditation, show that there is a positive impact on brain processes and the body’s responses: decreased metabolism in general, lower consumption oxygen and carbon dioxide, decreased frequency heart rate, and increased slow brain waves, decreased levels of hypertension.

Says Harold Koenig has published more than 1,000 articles on the relationship between spirituality and mental health. These studies indicate that people who practice a spiritual discipline, have less severe depressive, anxiety, and greater ability to cope with stress, illness, divorce, and emotional crises.

Addictions studies recommend that spirituality should be incorporated into treatment plans. Several studies on the treatment of alcohol dependence and other drugs, stress that spirituality is an important component that should be performed during the rehabilitation phase.

It has also shown that the regularity in spiritual practices, is associated with favorable outcomes in addiction disorder (Carter, 1998) as well as in maintaining abstinence and who have recovered from a dependency, practice more spirituality than those who will relapse (Jarusiewicz, 2000).

Benefits of spirituality in the recovery process

People, who live life according to a spiritual conception, have many benefits. These benefits are:

Feelings of safety and security

Having the knowledge that you are not alone in the universe and that in the moments of greatest despair, you can be calm and believe that there is a higher power in which you can trust, gives a sense of security and protection which is quite helpful in healing up from substance abuse.

Sense of control

To think that there are “universal principles” that govern the lives of people, is an aid to deal with the injustices, since through these principles and this philosophy, you can find answers about their own behavior and that of other people.

Peace of mind

If a person has faith in a Higher Power, to that extent challenges facing life without fear or dread. You get to learn not to give importance to unpleasant things and think that things happen for a superior design; reduce anxiety and increases feelings of tranquility and peace.

Increased self-esteem

This refers to neglecting the need for constant self-criticism or blame. It is nice to think that many difficulties are caused by other people. Through spirituality, you are able to accept and respond to these external conflicts according to your abilities, and trust that the effect, the results are no longer your responsibility.

Ability to give and receive unconditional love

Unconditional love means total acceptance not only by other people but, by your own self as well without complaint or criticism. Thus, the person is free of all judgment and can more easily express their true self, and at the same time heal some of his wounds which are effective during substance abuse treatment.


Developing a relationship with the universe gives the individual a guideline to make decisions and solve problem situations. Learning to ask the universe a way forward and be receptive to the answers, help people develop a sense of security.

The importance of integrating spirituality as a strategy in the treatment of addictions

Miller (2003) argues that spirituality is an antidote in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation for addiction, especially “when you take into account the enormous amount of suffering that is associated with drug use.”

Derived from this statement, “We cannot afford to ignore this important source of healing.”


Why these strategies and techniques have been used to support the treatment of addictions?

The answer to this question has to do with one’s attitudes and beliefs of the therapist which can be a difficult job for treatment providers and because they feel they lack the knowledge and sufficient experience. To implement spirituality, we need to reflect on our own belief system, and the willingness to talk about religious and spiritual issues with patients.



Spirituality should not be seen only as a small set of words or statements. Spirituality is an inner quality that can be very important in the life of a person who has different interpretations based on personal experiences.

The treatment and rehabilitation of alcohol and other drugs can be compared to the spiritual development and can be achieved through daily practice. You start living in a new way because you want a Higher Power to deal with your matters with firmness and without fear.