Individuals recovering from addictive behaviors frequently cite spirituality as a helpful influence. However, little is known about whether or not spirituality could be incorporated into formal treatment and aftercare in a manner that is sensitive to individual differences. Recovery coaching isn’t so much about secular solutions to problems nor is it against spirituality or Higher Power thinking. Recovery coaching is more against linearity; sequential codes of belief such as those of 12-step models. Recovery coaching is a “spatial concept” in that there can be several paths to recovery and ultimate sobriety. Recovery coaching recognizes the role that spirituality can play in recovery and often encourages clients to at least maintain an open mind regarding the augmentation of several spiritual paths as a support in aftercare.
Evidence has been accumulating over the past couple of years showing that the relationship between spirituality and recovery can no longer be ignored. Recent anecdotal and focus group studies with recovering alcoholics and addicts are increasingly pointing to spirituality as playing a critical role in their recovery journey. Only until recently has the role of spirituality in facilitating successful addiction treatment outcomes have been identified as an area of potential importance to addiction research and clinical practice. (National Institute of Health NIH, 2010)
For example, recovering clients who have nurtured any form of spiritual experience have been found to be more open to suggestions as to how to incorporate mind, body and spirit (prayer, meditation, contemplative reading, volunteering and other life-affirming spiritual activities) into their new sober life. Some clients have even reported that this form of spirituality has given them a sense of strength they never had experienced before.
More studies have begun to surface showing that recovering persons who have integrated practical scientific aftercare with a holistic form of spirituality in their sober journey seem to have extended periods of sobriety, make better informed choices, and are less prone to relapse. Despite the scarcity of formal research in this area, spiritual concepts have been shown to be a significant and independent predictor of recovery and/or improvement of treatment outcomes in recovering individuals. I don’t have the data to prove it, but one can surmise that with an integrated system of aftercare, the severity of any consequences as a result of a relapse are more short-lived and less severe because of that integration. (Royal Ottawa Hospital Aftercare Study, 2003. National Institute of Health, 2010)
It comes to no surprise, then, that recovering persons who integrate their recovery with some form of spiritual centeredness are considered special people as they have overcome obstacles that most of us would never overcome. They are fortunate to have gotten their lives back, and most have been willing to pay that debt forward. They have adopted some pretty good standards for living that should go beyond the recovery community and be made a part of our whole culture, addicted or not (Letting go; practicing forgiveness; one day at a time mentality; and the precepts of the serenity prayer, to name a few.).
It is important to clarify at this point that Starting Point holds a broad range of personal viewpoints on spirituality and religion, including secularism. We cannot draw any hard conclusions about spirituality from our research, other than the research suggests a framework for future studies. The driving force behind writing this blog was more out of a curiosity about how recovering people view the integration of treatment and aftercare with spirituality.
We can only highlight that any form of spirituality when kept in balance with modern-day technologies, has promise and works to provide us with enough spiritual contentment, fulfillment, a sense of wholeness, wellness, purpose and the happiness needed to enjoy life to the fullest. And isn’t that the goal of recovery?