To achieve full recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) and mental disorders, individuals must do more than merely go through the motions of a treatment program. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community.” The areas of mind, body, and community are most often discussed, leaving spirituality in the shadows. However, spiritual wellness is an essential component of lasting recovery.
Recognizing the value that spirituality can have on one’s recovery journey can be instrumental in maintaining healing throughout one’s life. Grace Recovery is dedicated to helping women in attaining total balance through the healing of mind, body, and spirit in tandem.
Spirituality and Spiritual Health
Contrary to what many may believe, the term “spirituality” does not describe one way of being. Spirituality is an all-encompassing term that recognizes a person’s deeper connection with themself and the world around them. Rather than living a life focused on material things, spirituality encourages individuals to live a life that is in tune with their greater purpose.
According to the Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine,
Spiritual health is about the connection with self (personal dimension), others (social dimension), the nature (the environment) and God (transcendental dimension). The basic characteristics of spiritual health are as follows: proper lifestyle, connection with others, asking about the meaning and purpose of life, and transcendence. Spiritual health is extremely important for many researchers, to the extent that it is seen as one of the key aspects of health.
To put it more simply, the journal highlights five characteristics of spirituality. These include:
- Connecting (with oneself, higher power, and the environment)
- Becoming (growth and progress in life)
Spirituality vs. Religion
It is common for individuals to be skeptical about spirituality. Often, they interlink spirituality with religion in their mind. While there is undeniable overlap between the two, they are very different concepts. As mentioned previously, spirituality is all-encompassing. Religion, on the other hand, is an organized set of beliefs and practices that are centered around the worship of one or more deities.
In reality, an individual can be spiritual without being religious. Similarly, an individual can believe in god/s without being religious. Although many perspectives can be addressed to differentiate spirituality from religion, this may be the most helpful: Spirituality is an inward journey of discovery, whereas religion brings together a community of people to worship the same god/s in the same way.
Both spiritual and religious people seek a deeper understanding of existence. It’s important to remember that there isn’t a “right way.” However, spirituality is a much broader concept that can be personalized to fit an individual’s unique needs and goals throughout their life.
Spirituality in Recovery
In research, spirituality and religiousness are often intertwined, as both involve a connection to something deeper than oneself. According to a study published in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, ‘’Scientific literature strongly supports the notion that spirituality and religiousness can enhance health and [quality of life]. Persons with strong religious faith report higher levels of life satisfaction, greater happiness, and fewer negative psychosocial consequences of traumatic life events.” In recovery, spirituality can help individuals in many ways. Here are just a few examples:
Fosters Positive Behavior Change
First, spirituality can motivate individuals to commit to positive behavior change, necessary for lasting healing. During treatment, the use of spirituality can help individuals discover their personal values and goals for recovery. Individuals can then address what types of behavior changes need to take place for them to live in accordance with these values and goals. With the help of therapy, individuals can work through the obstacles that prevent them from achieving this behavior change.
When an individual works to strengthen their spiritual health, it can encourage them to persevere beyond life’s stressors. This is especially necessary for those in recovery. Inevitable hiccups will arise throughout recovery, and when they do, spirituality can help one learn to accept their situation rather than fight it. Spirituality “can give hope, strength, and provide meaning during stressful periods,” according to the aforementioned study.
Additional Benefits for Recovery
The same scientific journal states “that among recovering individuals, higher levels of religious faith and spirituality are associated with cognitive processes previously linked to more positive health outcomes including more optimistic life orientation, higher resilience to stress, lower levels of anxiety, and positive effective coping skills.” These examples only scratch the surface of all the benefits that can be experienced from spirituality in recovery. In short, it is something that anyone can gain value from. This makes it a profound element of healing, growth, and well-being.
How to Enhance Spiritual Well-Being in Recovery
There are many ways that individuals can enhance their spiritual well-being in recovery. Consider the following:
- Be still. A person can take a few mindful minutes every day to be still. They can assess their environment, values, and happiness.
- Meditate. Meditating is an important spiritual practice for some. Meditating actively encourages mindfulness, which allows a person to be fully present in the moment. This can help reduce ruminating thoughts and emotional distress.
- Reflect. A person might benefit from spending some time thinking through their wishes, hopes, wants, and needs. They can set intentions for their week. Speaking through these things can help keep intentions at the forefront of a person’s mind.
- Explore nature. Existing in nature can also enhance a person’s spiritual well-being. A person can explore nature curiously and with gratitude.
Spirituality is a personal journey that motivates people to seek deeper connections and understandings of themselves and the world around them. In recovery, spiritual health plays an important role in lasting healing. At Grace Recovery, we recognize the value in the connections between the mind, body, and spirit. We understand that recovery requires an individual to shift their perspective of the world as they once knew it. Fortunately, we have the professional tools and resources to guide individuals to a path of spiritual wellness during treatment and recovery. If you or a loved one is seeking support, do not hesitate to reach out to our staff. Call us today at (737) 237-9663.
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