The Spiritual Void in Early Recovery

The Spiritual Void in Early Recovery

Prayer to god

I tend to harp on this idea a bit but I see it so much in my daily experience that I have to keep coming back to it.

The solution to recovery is not spiritual.  It is much bigger than that.

When we first get clean and sober, we tend to have a big void in our life.  Traditional recovery always recognizes this as being a spiritual void, as we have drifted away from any higher power we might have had in our lives, and also because our disease of addiction drove us to extreme self-centeredness.  Therefore, the solution you generally hear being toted in traditional recovery circles is that we must seek and adopt the spiritual solution.

Now I have nothing against the idea of a spiritual solution for overcoming addiction, and in fact I think it is a key piece of the puzzle.  But my point here is that the solution is actually much bigger than this.  This is an important distinction because I have seen people who get very wrapped up in the spiritual solution in their early recovery but still end up failing to stay clean and sober.

Those who are successful in recovery go beyond a spiritual solution.  Look at the winners in recovery–they have generally found balance in their lives because they are using a more holistic approach.  What does this mean?  It means that they are treating their entire addiction and all the negative effects that it had on their lives, not just the spiritual malady.

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Addiction affected us physically, so it makes sense to focus on our overall health in recovery.

Addiction affected us by isolating us from the world, so it makes sense to seek out relationships with others in recovery.

Addiction affected us mentally and emotionally, by doping us and dragging us down, so it makes sense to learn new things and push ourselves to grow and mature in recovery.

Addiction affects us with some lingering habits, so it makes sense to try and quit smoking in recovery (also helps focus on overall health).

Addiction destroyed our self esteem, so it makes sense to actively build that back up through deliberate action.

And yes, addiction took away our spiritual connection, so it makes sense to work on reconnecting in this way.

So you can see that there are problems when we limit ourselves to a spiritual solution.  We also get into trouble just by defining the term “spiritual” in some cases.  Really, when you get right down to it, it’s all spiritual, and the separation that we create is really all in our head.  If you experienced some level of growth in recovery, regardless of what area of your life it was in, then it contained a spiritual component to it.

For example, if you feel like you have grown emotionally as a result of your recovery efforts, then that has a spiritual component to it.  Or if you start exercising every day, that is spiritual as well….it’s just a matter of whether we choose to see it that way or not.

When we limit ourselves to seeing “spiritual” as being only about our preconceived notions regarding, say, prayer and meditation, we limit ourselves to appreciating the level of growth we have really made in recovery.

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