Spirituality in Treatment and the Desire for Recovery

Addiction treatment presupposes many common webs that entangle those seeking change and guidance from dependency on Alcohol, prescription medication, or narcotics. One major indicator for most who need treatment is general bankruptcy and restoration of what’s often termed: spirituality.

Webster terms that concept as: the quality or state of being spiritual. Another source defines spirituality as related to matters of the spirit, beliefs tied to a spirit world, multidimensional and one or more deities.

So as the curious and the newcomer look into recovery and clarification of both AA and NA they run immediately into the spiritual aspects of recovery. In fact, the first time they review the 12-steps of these programs they encounter The Eleventh Step and some draw back in trepidation. The step states: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out. In some instances this is too strong a statement. It may make the reader and potential member recoil in fear.

Stop please do not run!

Closer examination in the Big Book of AA entitled simply: Alcoholics Anonymous, addresses this aspect of the fellowship in depth. The book helps clear up concerns of those who lack interest in such matters or may have turned their backs on organized religions or other groups intent on recruitment to some particular cause. The chapter devoted to the subject in the Big Book is the 4th and is entitled: We Agnostics.

All who become involved with AA or NA find themselves approaching the 11th Step as they meet and discourse with fellow members. In most treatment centers therapy groups discuss the issue of spiritual renewal and how its loss left many people with an empty feeling: a hole in the middle of the gut that couldn’t be filled.  Lectures too are keyed to the challenge and essentially provide a review of the 4th chapter following a reading assignment. This Big Book effort must be commended if for no other reason than it removes spirituality from misinterpretation as religious teaching, one theologian stated.

Reflection on moral codes, philosophies of clean living have often been presented as cures for substance abuse and addiction. Will power is a usually cited as the pathway to follow. However, no matter how strong the alcoholic wished for direction the power simply was not there and human resources generated by the will didn’t do the trick.

Power was lacking and had to be discovered. It had to be: A power greater than ourselves and where could the suffering alcoholic and addict find such an asset?

It begins with the admission that such a higher power is needed and seems to work for others. It need not be a traditional religious concept and it can be contained in almost any identity. Some have embraced the local AA group as that power greater than themselves. Others may turn to nature as providing their conscious contact with an inner spirit and lead to times of quiet reflection in places of natural beauty where their power resides.

So the recovering alcoholic or addict is actively seeking ways to keep life in balance. By staying in touch with the source of power clear choices present themselves and quiet, deep understanding emerges. Some find prayer and meditation directed to the higher power fulfilling the need. This practice often keeps the recovering person attuned to the inner self, the program of recovery underway, the important people in their lives, and the resources discovered that are now available when called upon.


Big Books, the basic texts of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, are now available in their entirety online.