The most important part of my growth throughout my recovery from addiction has been my spirituality. Enlarging on the spiritual principles I have been taught in order to further my relationship with my higher power has been the difference in why I was able to get and stay sober this time, as opposed to the countless other times I tried. Over the course of my life I had varying degrees of interest in spirituality. It was a concept that I found worth looking into. But as my addiction ramped up, all thoughts of a power greater than myself, or drugs, went out the window. Now that I have accumulated some sober time, I have found a number of spiritual principles that have helped make me a better person.
Most of the spiritual principles I have latched onto came from the 12 steps. The 12 steps have been very pivotal in my spirituality. In the past I was quick to dismiss AA as something that was not for me. I’m a bit younger than the majority of the demographic and was much heavier on narcotics than I was alcohol, but this time around I stopped trying to be different. Because regardless of whether we’re talking about an addiction to cocaine or we’re talking about alcoholism the solution, for me, was the same – spiritual growth. The fact of the matter is that I have an addiction to drugs that, left to my own devices, I cannot beat. So I listen to people who have dealt with what I’m up against. I’ve outlined the most important principles that drive my spiritual growth in detail below.
I wasn’t able to grow in my sobriety and spirituality until I started being honest. Honest with others and honest with myself. It seems very simple and straightforward but because of the life I had been living, honesty was not natural for me. Throughout my life I found that a lot of times lying served a great purpose. If I was causing trouble I could simply concoct some elaborate story as to why I was actually not in the wrong.
Learning to be honest took a lot of practice for me. I didn’t find a text or receive advice on how to just be honest so it looked a little more awkward. Going back to people who I lied to and telling them that I was dishonest, then telling them the truth became a somewhat normal occurrence. Through making a conscious effort to be honest and going back and taking accountability for the times that I am not, my relationships have grown much stronger.
Integrity is another very important principle in making me a better person. Integrity is the fuel that enables me to grow in all of my other spiritual principles. As is the case with honesty, if I didn’t have the integrity to own up to the white lies that I instinctively told, then I wouldn’t have grown at all. The temptation of knowing that I could get away with certain things without anyone knowing about it is strong. Whenever I’m tempted to do something that wouldn’t align with the morals I’m trying to live up to, I call people in my sober network to get an outside perspective.
I do my best to practice humility everyday. One of the ways I do this is asking God to show me his will for me and help me live that out. By doing this I’m attempting to take my ego and wants out of the forefront of my focus. It’s easy to get caught up in a me first mindset where I’m constantly thinking about how to help myself. That’s not how I want to live though. To become a better person I have to think of others and how I can pack more love into the world as opposed to taking everything for myself. By doing this I’m a better person than I was when it was all about me.
Acts of service are the most important things I can do for myself. It’s basically the secret weapon in my spiritual arsenal. In my darkest moments of self doubt and depression, nothing helped me out more than helping someone else. It’s plain and simple; if I’m actively engaging in helping someone else then I don’t have time to focus on me. My growth as a person and my desire to help someone else constantly gets me out of my own head. It stops me from obsessing about what I don’t have and what I think I need. There are many ways for people to help others all it takes is the effort to make a difference.
There are so many principles that have helped me but these 4 are at the root of all. Making a conscious effort to implement them in my day to day life becomes easier and easier, because the benefits of doing so grow with me. I’m a much happier and more content person than I was when I was using drugs to change the way I felt. Now I don’t have to seek out external ways to fix the way I feel. I have all of the tools I need at my disposal, I just have to use them.
By Jack Agatston
Jack has a passion for addiction recovery and is dedicated to sharing his message of hope with others through his writing. He is a long time resident of Atlanta, GA.