The Role of Spirituality in Rehabs Addiction Treatment

For many people, spirituality can be complicated to understand. Even though spirituality has been known to provide you with support, purpose and inspiration, talking about spirituality in rehabs addiction treatment can be complex. To begin with, spirituality means different things to different people and for those who don’t consider themselves religious, it is inevitable that starting to understand spirituality may not be at the forefront.


Dr Brooks – a Chief People Officer at Vertava Health describes spirituality as “more than just an ideology or a religious paradox.” He further mentions that “it is an understanding and a connection to something that is bigger than us.” Spirituality can be complex and fluid, but whether or not you are devoted to a certain faith or have never once attended a Sunday service, spirituality plays a huge role in the addiction rehab recovery process.


Are Spirituality And Religion The Same Thing?


Spirituality and religion are closely linked and often many people think that it means the same thing. However, you learn in rehabs that, spirituality does not necessarily have to be defined in terms of religion. Religion is a set of beliefs, rituals or practices regarding a belief in God or multiple gods.


On the other hand, spirituality is more of a personal search for meaning in life and a connection with the universe or something greater than ourselves. Although some people share their spirituality through religion, this form of expression doesn’t work for everyone. Others practice their spirituality through meditation, yoga, tai chi, spending time in nature or any number of more holistic methods. During your time in rehabs, you will begin to learn that spirituality may require you to express your method of practice through grounding it in love and compassion whilst guiding you closer to your purpose in life.


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Religion and spirituality are strong components of some programs and not others. For instance, while Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) defines itself as a spiritual program, it is heavily based on the early Oxford Group, which is a Christian organization, and the book Alcoholics Anonymous uses, called The Big Book, mentions God 134 times. The program also uses mostly Christian prayers, proverbs, and bible verses in its materials. A program such as SMART rehabs Recovery, on the other hand, does not include any explicitly religious or spiritual elements in its resources and approach.


The Importance Of Spirituality In Rehabs Recovery


Before you seek out rehabs to treat your addiction, you will find that addiction takes everything away from you, including your spirituality. Dr Brooks further emphasises that “Addiction doesn’t care what your purpose is or what connections you have beyond yourself. It only cares about tearing you down.” While Dr. Brooks takes the time to explain the heart-breaking reality of addiction, he is quick to add that you can gain all of these elements and more back once you complete your rehabs recovery journey.


With these things in mind, he explains that rediscovering your spirituality in rehabs can be the catalyst to finding your sense of self again after addiction. “During active addiction, your purpose in life was to feed your disease, but spirituality can restore your self-worth and give you a new sense of purpose,” he concludes. In your rehabs journey, you will learn how to reconnect with yourself on a spiritual level.


Addiction rehabs can also provide the mental and emotional support that’s so essential to a successful journey in rehabs recovery. “Knowing that we have a place in the world is inspiring, but also humbling,” says Dr. Brooks. “It helps us to know that just because something is a problem today, there is always hope for the future.” It’s this hope for the future that you will begin to discover in your rehabs journey.


Finding Spirituality In Rehabs Recovery


In the beginning stages of your rehabs recovery journey, Dr. Brooks sees that clients often struggle with their spirituality. “It can be hard to understand what spirituality really is sometimes, especially when we’ve lost it or have never had it before,” he says. It is important to know that despite feeling or thinking like you’ve never been spiritual before, within your rehabs journey, we encourage you to never give up on this element as it is crucial to a successful rehabs journey.


During your rehabs journey, we understand that finding spirituality often takes time, patience and practice to grow and develop. During your rehabs journey, you may learn many things about your spirituality. However, we see that setting time aside for personal reflection every day can help you begin your rehabs spirituality journey.


Dr Brooks says that “Anytime we can slow our thoughts to be more present in the moment and be intentionally connected with what’s going on around us, it opens up our eyes to a whole new view.” In addition to taking time for yourself each day, during your rehabs journey, we recommend reading works from different spiritual thought leaders among varying ideologies. It’s important to know that spirituality is not one size fits all.


During your treatment at rehabs for your addiction, we understand that each individual has to find what resonates with them at a core level. Lastly, Dr. Brooks emphasizes the importance of being open to new and different ways of connecting to your spirituality. What may have worked for you prior to active addiction may not work for you in recovery, so don’t be scared to explore other methods whilst in rehab.


“The reality is, our lives are going so fast all of the time,” he starts. “It’s so important to peel away from that in order to get quiet and be present in the moment. The clarity that comes from these times is where spirituality is born.”



Religious vs. Spiritual


Let’s take a look at how spirituality is crucial to your rehabs recovery journey


Giving You a Sense of Purpose


Humans search for meaning in life. Your reason for it may be different, but the common theme is the need for purpose. Several studies have shown that when an individual has a greater focus on purpose in life, that purpose has a positive influence on rehabs addiction treatment outcomes.


Some people see having a higher power as giving them something to belong to that is stronger than themselves. For others, purpose is found in a greater good or calling that drives daily actions. Either way, seeing a bigger picture can be an incredible contribution to successful recovery in rehabs.


Making a Contribution


Research has shown us that giving to others actually makes us feel better . Helping other people who have also gone through addiction rehabs, as a way to help yourself, is what drives many people through to beating their addiction. Helping others helps you to feel good about yourself, whether it’s by giving money, shelter, or simply support.


During your rehabs journey, we advocate that once you complete your treatment in rehabs, to give back to your community through sponsorship in AA, mentorship in your professional life, or volunteering in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Whatever you do, make sure that giving back is part of the equation and you’ll experience a more rewarding existence.


Bringing Mindfulness to Your Recovery


Mindfulness and meditation have long been shown to improve rehabs addiction treatment outcomes. Meditation can release muscle tension, decrease the activity of the sympathetic branch of the nervous system, and reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Living in the present moment and focusing on the now, not the future or the past, helps to centre and focus thoughts while reducing stress and anxiety.


Prayer, meditation, or mindfulness are coping skills that can help replace negative behaviours. They also help you to accept things as they are, in the moment. Take time to be still and quiet in a busy, commotion-filled world and you’ll find that the path becomes easier.


Connecting to Something Greater Than Yourself


Bringing an isolated person back to the revelation that they are not alone, even when they are by themselves is a spiritual idea that helps many people in dealing with their addiction. Many people isolate when they engage in their addictive behaviour, and that isolation can drive them farther into their addiction. For those that do not believe in a God, per say, finding something greater is still attainable as long as you are open-minded, meditate or pray, help people, and keep searching for something bigger than yourself to believe in.


It isn’t difficult to connect to the fact that there is much that is bigger than any one individual. Some people may find that nearly anything you see can be considered as being “bigger than me.” My children’s school and the kids within it, humanity’s plight in dozens of areas of the world, and our relative insignificance in the universe are all examples of the existence of a greater presence than us. Acknowledging it can offer powerful release for some.


Many recovery programs and 12-step programs believe that recovery starts when you admit that you need help from something greater than yourself. Alcoholics Anonymous is famous for the phrase, “Let go and let God.” This is also one of the biggest hindrances to 12-step recovery for many, since identification with a religion, and “god,” is certainly not universal.


Establishing Yourself as Part of a Community


Addiction is isolating and lonely. During your rehabs journey, it is important to work your way back to being part of a community of people who are going about their daily lives and interacting with them is a significant step in getting your life back on track. Addiction has probably caused isolation due to bad behaviour, dishonesty, and shame.


Starting to connect with a community and build a relationship with yourself and others are some of the beginning steps of your journey into rehabs recovery. If you can give back by helping others, you can be even more involved in the community and kill two birds with one stone. If your spirituality brings you to a place where you commune together, it can be even more powerful.


Practicing Gratitude


Being grateful for the things that you do have and focusing on them brings positivity into your life and is an important part in your rehabs journey. Beyond feeling positive emotions, practicing gratitude is associated with physical muscle relaxation as well. The act of being grateful can have a positive impact on your well-being.


Grateful people find themselves less depressed and stressed and have a greater sense of belonging in the world. Gratitude is also an important part of the discussion in a number of self-support groups including SMART Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous. Practicing gratitude (even for a short part of each day) can help you notice the gifts and positive aspects present in your life and help refocus attention away from purely negative emotions.


Having Accountability


Being accountable is an important part of your rehabs journey. Taking accountability for your actions, to your higher authority or to your own sense of morality, helps you to stay the course and be a more purposeful and productive member of society. Remaining honest with your loved ones and yourself also helps to keep yourself accountable and being mindful and reflective on an ongoing basis can help greatly to develop that self-awareness and honesty.


Spirituality Can Be Very Important


Spiritual growth involves a connection to people, the world, and a higher purpose than oneself. It also may embody values like trust, faith, respect, self-expression, and self-acceptance. These are exactly the things that are needed in the lives of many an addicted person who may be struggling with self-loathing and isolation. But with a complex problem like addiction, it is likely that a complex solution incorporating elements from all the camps is needed, not just the spirituality and religion camp. During your rehabs journey, we treat you holistically!


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