As a not particularly religious person, I was initially turned off by recovery’s seemingly religious focus. In AA, there are a lot of references to God or a higher power. While that higher power doesn’t have to be God—it can be anything greater than yourself—recovery language seemed to lean religious.
For some, this is a source of great comfort and strength. For others, it can be a barrier to sobriety. A really important lesson I’ve learned since being sober is that there is no right way to “do” recovery. What keeps one person sober might make recovery more difficult for someone else; part of the work is in finding your path.
How Do You Find Meaning in Recovery?
You don’t have to be religious to find comfort in something greater than yourself. This could be nature, music, friends, family, acts of service. Anything that is generative rather than destructive can function as a sort of “higher power.” You also don’t have to be religious to find meaning and connection in the world—though religion may be where it originates for you.
Recovery is an incredible opportunity to find the things that bring you joy, peace, and connection. Most people who first get sober begin a process of figuring out who they are without substances. A large part of that is finding what makes life meaningful for you when drugs or alcohol aren’t the most important parts of your life.
When I first got sober, I created my own path, adding things that worked and subtracting things that didn’t. Even at five and a half years sober, this is an ongoing process. Exercising, staying connected to my support system, meditating, getting into nature, going to therapy, and being of service have always been important parts of my recovery.
All these are common parts of a sobriety program, and still, each individual will go about them differently. Some may see walks in nature as a form of meditation. Others might view journaling as meditation. There are numerous ways to get exercise, to show and receive support, to engage in therapy.
I’ve also found that reading about addiction and recovery are helpful to me; learning how addiction and sobriety work is a source of strength. It empowers me to understand my own experience better—and it helps me feel connected to a long line of other people in recovery. In its own way, that feels spiritual.
How is Spirituality Different From Religion?
Spirituality is not necessarily the same as religion, though they can be linked. Religion means a set of beliefs and traditions typically focused on God(s), which tend to be tied to an institution. Spirituality is about finding personal meaning in life and connection to the world.
Many of the things people do for their sobriety can be spiritual and not religious. Meditation is a good example. Gratitude lists—a common practice for those in recovery—can be seen as a form of prayer.
Religion can be a controversial aspect of recovery; people tend to have strong opinions on the subject, whether they’re for or against religious aspects of recovery. But neither side is wrong—there are as many ways to “do” sobriety as there are people.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you find a recovery program that works for you. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.