How exactly do transformations occur in addiction and alcoholism recovery? What is the process by which a struggling addict or alcoholic can change their life?
Let’s take a look at some common solutions in recovery.
* One very traditional transformation in early recovery is characterized by the 12 step program and can be described as a spiritual experience. Belief in a higher power is the first part, and putting your trust into that higher power is the next part. The idea behind 12 step programs is to work through a series of steps that brings the person to this spiritual conversion. Before this transformation they had no belief, and afterwards, they do.
* Beyond this traditional spiritual experience are things such as personality shifts. A person who used to be angry, selfish, or engaged in constant self pity might experience a shift in their personality such that they are now more positive, caring, and understanding of others. This can be just as profound and no less miraculous than other forms of transformation. It can also be just as beneficial in some cases.
* Other lifestyle shifts might include physical ones. For example, a person might quit smoking, start eating healthier meals, and start exercising on a regular basis. Again, this may be just as profound a shift as any other that they might be seeking in early recovery.
* Significant shifts might occur on a social front as well. Consider someone who is immersed in the drug culture and is surrounded by people who use or drink. They might move into a long term treatment center, make new friends, leave the old culture behind completely, and thus experience a social transformation that is as significant and powerful as anything else in this article.
* In long term recovery, maybe a person has plenty of clean time and no longer struggles to stay clean and sober, but they suffer financial hardship due to poor spending habits. Maybe they read a decent book about finance, resolve to make changes with their spending and their money, and make huge strides in this area, completely transforming their financial life. Again, this is a major shift that can have a huge impact on someone’s overall happiness and well being.
So there are a couple of key points here to take away from these ideas:
* Do not get wrapped up in the idea that a spiritual experience is your only path to success in recovery. If you dig deep enough into ANY of the ideas above, you will actually see that all of them are “spiritual” at their root. For example, most spiritual texts or biblical teachings would advise you to exercise (treat your body like a temple, etc.) and be responsible with your money, and so on. Each one of the potential transformations falls under the “spiritual” umbrella….so do not fall into the trap of thinking that you have to end up in church in order to turn your whole life around.
* Seek holistic growth. Many people make the error in early recovery of focusing ONLY on spiritual growth. This is a mistake, as mostly what they are doing is avoiding any growth that is not “religious” in their minds, while closing themselves off to all sorts of growth opportunities that are actually “spiritual” in nature. For example, vigorous exercise is as spiritual as meditation is, but almost no one can convey that in words….the only way to appreciate that fact is to exercise consistently for a long time until it becomes easy and natural for you to do. At that point it is as powerful as most meditation techniques. This is just one example though of how an holistic approach can become spiritual. You find growth and progress in areas that you do not expect them, simply by taking positive action.