Twelve step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been considered very spiritual in that the steps individuals follow guide them to a stronger connection with God, or to another Higher Power. For many people, this spiritual foundation has provided them with many positive outcomes; in 2016, researchers published a study in the Journal of Religion and Health by assessing the relationship between long term AA members and characteristics of the AA program. They found that feeling God’s daily presence, believing in a higher power as a universal spirit and serving as an AA sponsor all led them to beautiful recovery outcomes. When we talk about spirituality, what exactly do we mean?
There is a distinction between spirituality and religion; spirituality is a general term for having a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, whatever that may be. Religion is a set of beliefs, feelings, dogmas and practices that define the relationship between humans and an all-knowing God or gods. Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism and more are examples of religions, whereas love, empathy, service, gratitude and forgiveness are basic components of spirituality. Each person’s journey through recovery is different, and that journey may include spirituality, religion or both. Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from programs like AA is the sense of hope – the sense that things can get better and that a person does have the support to get them through challenging times.
One person shared the story of how they came to abuse substances after experiencing heightened expectations to succeed in school and work. Here is an excerpt from their story, as stated on DrugFree.org: “I became utterly isolated and life became indescribably dark…I threw my hands up and accepted suggestions for the first time in my life. I prayed to be relieved of my bondage of self and voraciously sought counsel from my newfound support network on how to live.”
Each person may experience spirituality, but the common foundation to it all is finding a purpose in life and building one’s hope for the future. It’s been commonly stated that addiction is a disease of the soul and that’s because so many people are suffering without the love, connection and hope they need.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.
Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.