Very simple idea here: the solution is not spiritual. It is holistic.
Traditional recovery programs today tend to have a very strong emphasis on the spiritual solution. The problem with this is that it neglects so many other aspects of the recovering addict’s life.
Consider all the ways that addiction or alcoholism can affect a person’s life.
Addiction affects us:
1) Physically – our health can deteriorate, poor nutrition, no exercise, unhealthy habits (such as smoking), and so on.
2) Mentally – we stop learning, abandon school and education, we don’t exercise mentally, or challenge ourselves, etc.
3) Emotionally – we stop maturing emotionally in active addiction. This is huge.
4) Socially – we reorganize our friendships according to those who consume drugs and alcohol like we do
5) Spiritually – our connection with our higher power suffers. We experience a separateness from other people in our lives. Extreme self centeredness.
And so on. There are even more examples that what I’ve listed here.
So it doesn’t make sense to use only a spiritual program to treat a problem like addiction. Doing so leaves the other areas of our lives in disarray.
Some people argue that if you focus on spirituality, then the other things will naturally fall into place. I have found this to be false in my experience, and I have seen it cost many people their recovery. For example:
* I have seen many people who put spirituality first in their life, with a strong devotion and a much stronger enthusiasm for spiritual matters than what I had. Yet all of these people ended up relapsing. It would seem that balance is more important in this case.
* Close friends of mine have suffered and even died because they focused only on a spiritual solution instead of a holistic approach that might have saved their life. Physical health is important too. Without that, the body dies, and then spiritual growth becomes a moot point.
* Traditional programs (such as 12 step models) cannot necessarily treat mental illness by themselves, though many in the fellowship claim that it can if people “have the capacity to be honest with themselves.” While this has worked for some, many others need to address their mental health separately from their recovery efforts.
Remember that the holistic approach includes spiritual growth, but does not emphasize it as being the ultimate solution. A healthy balance is emphasized and the recovering addict is encouraged to grow in all areas of their life, not just spiritually.