Weaving in religion and spirituality into the path of sober living isn’t new. In fact, you could say that the entire 12-step model is based on a relationship with a higher power. Although some have steered away from the religious component of the 12-step program, others would say that spirituality is the key to the whole program.
You might not be the spiritual or religious type, yet, research actually shows that when there is a spiritual component to recovery, sober help treatment outcomes are more likely achieved. According to this study, long-term sober living is more likely to be achieved. For instance, a recent study indicated that spirituality could help in recovery at rehabilitative centers. Although experts at The University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University, and Baylor University performed the study, the research itself took place at a facility called New Directions in Northeast Ohio.
Specifically, the positive sober help treatment outcomes included lower levels of drug occurrence, less self-centeredness, and higher frequency of positive social behavior. Furthermore, the daily spiritual experiences reported by the participants included feeling a divine presence, having a sense of inner peace, and a feeling of benevolence towards others.
A rehabilitative environment that includes both spiritual and traditional experiences of recovery are meant to facilitate in adults deeper insight into the choices they are making for their life and encourage connection with a core self. Of course, holistic activities also help to promote physical well being, a healthy self-image, productive coping mechanisms, and psychological health. When these are combined with the right rehabilitative environment for sober living, they can create lasting change.
Another study done by Oregon State University suggests that both religious practices as well as spirituality each have their own influence on an individual’s overall well being. For instance, the study found that religion tends to regulate behavior. Religious practices, such as going to weekly services and spending time in fellowship with others of the same religion, had an influence on better health habits. Those who had religious tendencies smoked and drank less often.
Spirituality, on the other hand, tended to influence the ability to regulate emotions. Meditation and private prayer had the effect of being able to better manage difficult emotions as well as having physiological effects such as lowering blood pressure. It’s no wonder that meditation and mindfulness are being used a therapeutic practice among therapists and psychologists. More and more experts in psychology, as well as in other fields of science are recognizing its healing effects.
Essentially, mindfulness is the practice of becoming conscious of your internal and external environment. It is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting the existing feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding activity. Certainly, there are some similarities between religion and spirituality; however, this research was able to distinguish the different effects each had on an individual’s psychological growth. The study was published in the journal titled Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.
Spirituality can bring a recovering addict, or anyone, to their essence. For this reason, it might be the very reason spirituality has the ability to facilitate healing. In fact, a cycle of addiction perpetuates the disconnection from one’s power. Having practices that re-connect one to their essence can provide clarity, restoration, and a sense of self worth.
Since many mental health facilities are frequently publicly funded, they must be careful not to promote religion. To do this, many facilities provide drug counseling and mental health services that rely on scientific evidence, often called evidence based practices. However, those evidence based practices can keep some organizations from seeing concepts and processes spiritual in nature that have been effective. Furthermore, because those spiritually-oriented programs are at times difficult to measure, they are frequently ignored.
Despite this, spiritually oriented sober help treatment centers and sober living programs are growing in numbers, and many recovering addicts are drawn to spiritual practices to facilitate their sober living journey.
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