Welcome to the 8th segment of a nine-part series on the big areas of life that addiction/alcoholism and recovery can and need to have (for the recovery part) on our life in general. Please go into whatever archives exist on the site you are reading this to find the article from May of 2014 so you can get caught up on the main four areas. For the sake of bringing some people up to speed and for a quick reminder for those who are following from October(we took a few months breaks to focus on holidays and the new year in recovery) articles, the main or fabulous four areas of life are Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual. Again, see the archives for a detailed breakdown of these areas. This month, we are going to take a closer look at some of the ways that recovery affects the spiritual part of our life. Of course, there is so much information on this that it would literally take us at least a few years of daily articles to cover it all. Since you have no desire to spend that much time reading and ditto for me typing, we will cover some basics. As with all articles, I encourage you to do as much further research as you can/want on the subject.
How does recovery affect the spiritual part of our lives? This is an interesting focus area, mainly because the definition of spirituality varies so much from person to person. Rather than spend months or years trying to cover every potential definition and belief system out there, let’s pick a rather vanilla, or basic interpretation of spirituality and then go from there. Before we do that, let’s agree that spirituality is an area of life for everybody. Just because some people may choose to not have anything in that area (which is perfectly ok), doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. That being said, let’s look at a basic definition. Spirituality is simply the belief in what we know is real, but cannot see or touch. For instance, love is very real, but you cannot see love. You can see the results of love. If two people hug, that’s a result of love. You cannot point to some love floating around and identify it as love. Make sense? Using that definition, anger is also spiritual. People label things as good or bad, spiritual just is. Another way to look at it is simply the belief in a mind, body, and internal or spiritual connection. Whatever you choose to believe is absolutely fine. What we need to agree on is that there does exist a spiritual part of our life, that is generally fostered by our connection with ourselves and how we treat other people. Here is where we get disconnected due to drug use.
Clearly, someone who practices and beliefs in organized religion or spiritual path is going to experience disconnect and maybe even resentment when their addiction takes off. It is not possible to feel good about one’s self and spirituality if one is engaging in a path of self-destruction and loathing via chemicals. But what may not be so easy to see is that most other people, those who do not have a chosen or strict path, also suffer from the same disconnect, it’s just a bit more difficult for them to see. When a person enters the realm of addiction, they are separated from their true selves via chemicals. In a very true sense, drugs and alcohol become a person’s “higher power”, in the sense that drugs and alcohol do for the user what they cannot do for themselves. Once that is established, it becomes very difficult or impossible for the individual to get back to their true selves or to love themselves with undergoing major changes. Not to mention, the way an addict or alcoholic treats others is usually very harsh or at the least manipulative and dishonest. Once this is in play, a person is removed even further from what makes them happy and whole. Alcoholics Anonymous literature refers to this as going “spiritually bankrupt”. This is one of the ways that addiction and alcoholism most damages people. Without help in this area, whatever that means for the individual, it is usually impossible to get recovery.
Enjoy the spring! We’ll see you next month when we finish up this series with a positive look at how recovery gets us back in touch with our spirituality. See you then.