By Colby Maynard
“When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.”
(Alcoholics Anonymous: Big Book pg. 64)
The root of the insanity and disease of the addict is a spiritual malady. In other words, the addict lacks in any spiritual connection to a power greater than himself. Typically spirituality becomes confused with religion. The idea that spirituality requires religion must be smashed. Often times the negative connotations associated with religion are due to past experiences, guilt, shame, or remorse. Whatever the reason, lack of spirituality can be detrimental to recovery. While under the influence of drugs/alcohol most addicts feel disconnected, alone, and unworthy. Upon getting sober, moments that may have passed by or absent are now noticeable daily occurrences. Indulging in the simplicity of hearing the birds chirp in the morning, enjoying the breeze, or even singing along to a favorite song, can bring pleasurable experiences often forgotten and unappreciated by the addict. These moments combined with other experiences can lead to one having a spiritual awakening. This is a pivotal time in anyone’s life.
For a recovering drug addict, the spiritual awakening can be the difference between life and death. Addicts are selfish and self-centered by nature, despairingly focusing on their own depravity of connectedness. Finding a spiritual connection, embracing it and allowing it to evolve can make sobriety much easier. It’s hard to define a spiritual awakening. Upon building a spiritual connection, it’s important to remember that there is no “cookie cutter” experience. Most importantly, the addict will experience spirituality as it is individually appropriate.
Spirituality vs. Religion
The word “spirituality” can turn a lot of people off from certain recovery programs. Often times, individuals directly associate spirituality with organized religion. The truth is, spirituality and religion are very different things. When someone is religious it often times means they belong to an established religious order. Very different from spirituality, this misconception frequently pushes the addict away from surrendering to the idea of finding and establishing a relationship with a Higher Power. Spirituality is a much broader concept than religion. Most individuals do not have the same view on this idea. The freedom for varying perspectives and experiences is essential for the addict seeking recovery. When speaking in general terms spirituality refers to a sense of connection to something bigger and greater than ourselves. For most people, spirituality is connected to finding passion and regaining an individual sense of purpose. Spirituality is a universal human experience, something that touches and affects every human being. Those who have had a spiritual experience may describe it as sacred or transcendent. Others may put it more simply, as a deep sense of interconnectedness to the world achieving inner peace.
Having A Spiritual Awakening
Spiritual awakenings connect addicts to a new part of the soul and spirit that most have been disconnected from for years. We are born into a society that values materials and finances above most other things. Success has been defined as individual achievements rather than considering the overall prosperity of humankind. This selfishness is taken to extremes when the person in question is a drug addict or alcoholic. A spiritual awakening is not always an overnight matter. A compilation of significant spiritual experiences, to an individual, can induce a spiritual awakening. The ability to view all living things as equals is one of the most important symptoms of a spiritual awakening. The future and the past become less important as an individual begins to focus on the present. An individual experiencing a spiritual awakening in recovery will become more conscious of those around them. The addict often feels a sense of unity and connectedness to the world, which can harvest empathy and compassion. For the addict this is especially important, humility and helpfulness become the foundation for a entirely new perspective.Those who are recovering from drug or alcohol abuse can greatly benefit from having a spiritual awakening. Even seemingly miniscule spiritual experiences can demolish close mindedness and ignorance while cultivating an individual’s sense of purpose.
As these experiences continue to occur an individual may experience a spiritual awakening of the educational variety. When someone who is recovering from drug or alcohol abuse has a spiritual awakening their chances of relapsing can decrease significantly. Replacing self centeredness with love and tolerance of others, can encourage the addict to be the best version of himself and ultimately aid in helping others achieve the same.