The Role of Spirituality in Recovery from Addiction

October 9, 2014   •  Posted in: 

Blog Contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

Overcoming the stronghold of addiction is an intense and rigorous process. As an individual strives towards freedom from the grips of substance abuse, each aspect of one’s life will gradually be restored and healed. Because addiction is a multi-faceted issue that impacts a person in more than one way (physically, mentally, socially, etc), treatment must also be versatile to approach complex issues.

Many methods in addiction treatment offer a “whole-person” approach, which helps individuals delve through the layers of the recovery process. At times, recovery can feel emotionally painful and mentally exhausting, as the false sense of security or temporary pleasures that were given from the addiction are peeled away. For many individuals, an addiction to drugs or alcohol often serves as a “filler” or distraction from a deeper emptiness in life. When the substance is removed as an addict recovers, how can a person appropriately and healthily learn to cope with the deeper issues at the root of the addiction?

One powerful aspect of recovery from addiction is Spirituality, or an inner path that enables a person to uncover and encounter their being. While Spirituality can vary in meaning and perspective, it is generally understood as a process of re-formation or transformation. Many research studies have demonstrated the benefit of spirituality in the recovery process for addiction. In fact, the 12-step program for addiction has spirituality as one of its core fundamental principles.

What are examples of spiritual techniques, and how does the practice of spirituality help individuals recovering from addiction?

Spiritual techniques are both diverse and widespread, varying among individuals and cultures. This may include the practice of meditation, daily prayers, scripture or devotional reading, and the regular fellowship with like-minded believers in a church or group setting. People who regularly incorporate spirituality principles in their recovery from addiction may benefit in the following ways:

  • Increased sense of worth and self-esteemed
  • Improved ability to cope with emotionally overwhelming situations and stress
  • Increased feelings of joy and peace in daily life
  • Hope for the future and in uncertain situations
  • Finding greater meaning and purpose in life
  • Greater ability to forgive and heal from past grievances

In addition to the above benefits, research has shown that people who regularly integrate spiritual practices in their life are less likely to relapse into alcohol and drugs [1].

If you or a loved one is in recovery from addiction, consider the positive aspects and benefits of spirituality for your treatment and overall life. Perhaps you are open to the idea of including spiritual practices in your daily life but are not sure where to begin? Consider reaching out to a trusted professional for ideas and suggestions, such as your counselor/therapist, a mentor, or someone on your treatment team. Remember that the healing process from addiction involves several different aspects and techniques, and spirituality can be an important piece of your journey.


[1]: Jarusiewicz, Betty. Spirituality and Addiction: Relationship to Recovery and Relapse. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. October 2008 pg 99-109

Dr. Gregory Jantz

Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...

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