Spirituality increases as alcoholics recover
For decades, recovering alcoholics and those who treat them have incorporated spirituality into the recovery process — whether or not it’s religious in nature. But few research studies have documented if and how spirituality changes during recovery, nor how those changes might influence a person’s chance of succeeding in the quest for sobriety.
Now, a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Addiction Research Center sheds light on this phenomenon. In the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, they show that many measures of spirituality tend to increase during alcohol recovery. 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.
“While people’s actual beliefs don’t seem to change during recovery, the extent they have spiritual experiences, and are open to spirituality in their lives, does change,” says lead researcher Elizabeth A.R. Robinson, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the U-M Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry and member of UMARC.. “This effect was also independent of their participation in Alcoholics Anonymous which has a strong spiritual aspect.”
The researchers report data from 154 adults with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse who entered an outpatient treatment program.
One may also say that “recovery from alcoholism accelerates as spirituality increases.”
Though I do not consider myself to have an addictive personality, I definitely have a history of drug and alcohol use. Looking back, I understand that I was attempting to “fill the void” deep down inside — a void that, according to my current understanding, can only be truly and permanently filled through spiritual realization.
I used to say that I had better spiritual experiences sitting on a bar stool than I ever did on a church pew — but now I know that a meditation cushion beats them all.