Addiction, addiction recovery, alcoholism, now referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD), and substance use disorders (SUD) have become more prevalent in our society today. It’s very likely that everyone either is or knows someone who has struggled with – or continues to have – some type of addiction issue.
And while the increase in AUDs and SUDs is not desired, the silver lining is that there has been a significant increase in research in the field of addiction. More and more is being learned about the disease of addiction, yielding growth in treatment options. This increasing variety of addiction treatment programs reaches even more people living in addiction to get the help they need and find long-lasting recovery.
The Evolving Face of Sobriety
In the early 1900s, anyone who suffered from an alcohol problem did not fare well. So little was known and understood about alcoholism and addiction during that time the alcoholic was often sent to asylums to live out the rest of their days in misery.
During the late 19th century, alcoholics were referred to as inebriates and the physicians who treated them were called inebriate specialists. It was common practice that these ‘inebriates’ needed to be detained in asylums in order to help them overcome their addiction to alcohol.
Luckily for anyone struggling today, much progress has been made from these early days of addiction treatment.
1935 saw the beginnings of what would become one of the strongest and longest-lasting alcohol support groups in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This twelve-step group, founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio, AA was the first support group of its kind and saw substantial and impressive results. The premise of AA, was for one alcoholic to help another and together, with trust in a Higher Power, they would have a daily reprieve from the deadly disease of addiction.
From AA birthed Alanon, Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), and many more twelve-step groups helping people with addictions to many things to recover and go on to live healthy and happy lives. These groups continue to grow and thrive today with AA having an estimated number of members more than 2 million across the globe and about 1.3 million in the United States alone.
AA and NA have no doubt helped many people successfully recover from AUDs and SUDs, however, with the continued research about the disease of addiction and progress, different and very effective alternative approaches to addiction treatment, addiction support groups, and addiction programs are becoming part of the mainstream.
Today’s Expanding Recovery Treatment Options
From addiction treatment centers with programs that are music-based and activity-based to high-end luxury rehabs with specialized programs for individuals in high demand occupations and those who are first responders, today’s options for recovery are varied.
However, one of the common tenants of many of these programs is the spirituality aspect. And while individuals in these programs can all be successful without leaning on the spirituality piece, time and time again those with long-lasting recovery tout the benefits and help spirituality has given them.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a twelve-step program that relies heavily on the spiritual experience, belief in a Higher Power and using these tools, along with fellowship and service to help a person with an AUD or SUD to get and stay sober. For many years, AA was the only support group or help for anyone with an alcohol or substance use issue. For some, the Higher Power or God concept drove them away from the program. This led to the establishment of some agnostic AA groups and even a group, not affiliated with AA, Agnostica AA for those turned off by the spirituality aspect of twelve-step groups.
Everyone is different, their alcohol or substance use issues unique, and what will best support their recovery can also be varied. As the understanding of AUDs and SUDs grows, so too do the support groups and approaches to recovery. Some of the more popular support groups include Refuge Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, and SMART Recovery. The first two encompass a spiritual piece, however, the last, is a secular-based recovery support group.
Spiritual Tools in Recovery
Spirituality is defined as being concerned with the human spirit or soul not material or physical things. Whether Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Transcendentalism, Islam, or any of the many spiritual groups, many spiritual practices or beliefs are the same throughout.
There are some spiritual practices that many with long-lasting recovery practice whether they are in AA, Refuge Recovery, or neither. Here are five spiritual tools to help enhance and solidify recovery:
- Meditation or prayer
It is essential to learn to quiet the mind and go within to heal, especially in recovery. Most all spiritual groups promote the use of regular meditation and/or prayer. AA’s 11th step states ‘sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him…’. This time of quiet prayer or meditation brings peace of mind and direction for the day. This is particularly vital for anyone in recovery as the mind is often racing and decision making can be encumbered. Many people since the beginning of time have used prayer and meditation to find peace and guidance.
From the universal Law of Attraction to religious groups, learning to be thankful for what we have, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is key to healing, growing, and enjoying more amazing things life has to offer. For many, writing a daily gratitude list is the first thing they do in the morning. Just this simple practice can turn around your day, weeks, and eventually life.
- Service to others
A fundamental part of AA and many other groups is the aspect of service or giving back. From the Buddha to Jesus and even secular groups, helping others is a great way to get out of self-pity (often common in active addiction) and feel better about one’s self and life. Whether it’s helping a neighbor, taking an active role in a recovery support group, or holding the door for a stranger, being in service to others is an amazing way to feel good.
Being part of a community of like-minded individuals provides one of the most basic human needs of belonging. Everyone has a deep inner desire to belong and many times those new in recovery are starting anew. Finding and becoming active in a community is a key component of getting and staying sober. Whether it be a church, recovery support group, or your local town, being a contributing part of a community is another way to solidify your recovery and spirituality.
- Mindfulness or presence
There is a saying that if you are depressed you are living in the past and if you are anxious you are living in the future. If you stop to think about it, this is very true and leads to the idea of mindfulness. With mindfulness, a person pays attention to the present moment and nothing else. This leads to the alleviation of stress, depression, worry, and anxiety. These mental health issues are some of the most common associated with an alcohol or substance use disorder. When an AUD or SUD occurs with another mental health issue, this is a co-occurring mental health condition. Practicing mindfulness or presence helps to combat these issues so commonly found with addiction.
If you want to learn more about addiction treatment programs and spirituality in recovery Futures Recovery Healthcare is here to help. Contact us confidentially online or by phone at 561-475-1804. There is help for addiction and hope. Take the first step today.