Incorporating spirituality and a sense of purpose into the alcohol recovery process has been an integral rehabilitation component for years. A new research study explores this aspect of the process documenting how spirituality changes during recovery may influence a person’s chance of succeeding in the quest for sobriety.
The study by University of Michigan Addiction Research Center researchers is found in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Study authors show that many measures of spirituality tend to increase during alcohol recovery and they also demonstrate that those who experience increases in day-to-day spiritual experiences and their sense of purpose in life are most likely to be free of heavy drinking episodes six months later.
…results suggest that “proactive and experiential” dimensions of spirituality, rather than cognitive ones, were contributing to the recovery and decrease in drinking in the first six months.
They note that this pattern is consistent with two AA slogans: “Bring your body, your mind will follow,” and “Fake it ‘til you make it.”
In other words, changes in core beliefs and values don’t have to occur in order for someone to be more open to spiritual experiences or to take part in more spiritual activities.
These findings suggest that including spirituality of all kinds into the delivery of recovery services for alcoholism may indeed help. Many individual faiths or religious institutions have offered recovery services, and some advocates have suggested that faith-based recovery is most effective for all. But Robinson notes that the spirituality seen in the study was not necessarily a matter of believing in one interpretation of God, or even belief in a God of any kind.
Each individual’s own spirituality, and the ability to experience growth in that spirituality, appears to be paramount, the authors suggest. So, each individual alcoholic might do best by searching for a recovery program that best matches his or her existing belief system.