Addiction’s Spiritual Causes – and Solutions

Addiction’s Spiritual Causes — and Solutions

Attitudes toward addiction have undoubtedly evolved in recent decades. We now largely understand addiction as a mental health issue — one that is not the fault or choice of those suffering in its hold. But while we see addiction’s physical, psychological and emotional impacts, one aspect is often overlooked — its spiritual characteristics. Indeed, spiritual crises often manifest as addictions, and spiritual practices can hold the key to lasting, holistic addiction recovery.

This article will describe the connection between spirituality and personal wellness by investigating the spiritual causes of addiction. If you are living with addiction, spirituality may be able to help you in your journey to recovery by providing purpose, support and inspiration.

What Is Spirituality?

Spirituality is the holistic belief in an individual connection to others and the universe as a whole. As a practice of seeking a connection with something beyond the self, spirituality centers on a greater concern for the human spirit or soul while searching for meaning in life. Spirituality may also involve religious traditions rooted in the belief in a higher power and gods, but it is also distinct from religion.
 
To many people, spirituality also offers a worldview that suggests that there is more to life than what we experience on a strictly physical and sensory level. As a part of the human experience, spirituality allows us to explore what our life is about and who we are as individuals, and can include:
  • Receiving and offering support and compassion to others
  • Recognizing universal human weaknesses and rejecting the pride that may prevent you from asking for help
  • Reflecting on one’s own moral compass to discern right from wrong according to your own values and principles
  • Learning respect for and gaining new insights about oneself and others
  • Gaining perspective on problems through willpower and support
  • Seeking happiness beyond material things or external pleasures
  • Deepening connections with other people
Spirituality can provide a source of comfort, stress relief and reassurance for many people looking to restore hope and optimism. In addition to benefiting people’s health and well-being, spirituality can help those looking to cope with challenges in life, such as addiction.
 
Sweat lodge entrance

What Is the Spiritual Model of Addiction?

The spiritual model of addiction proposes that addiction is a disease that affects the human spirit. Embracing a healthier lifestyle through spirituality and mindfulness can help combat substance use disorders and lead to greater psychological well-being.

What Is Spiritual Addiction?

The spiritual approach to addiction views addiction and the suffering it causes as a disconnection from a higher power or a deeper sense of self. Thus, recovery from addiction through the spiritual model involves establishing a deeper connection with ourselves and the people around us. Reconnecting with yourself through self-reflection can provide the mental and emotional support you need for the recovery journey through a change in consciousness.
 
Spiritual activities can help those working through addiction and allow them to lead happier lives. By helping those living with addiction rediscover their purpose and meaning in life, they can learn to address negative feelings that accompany addiction and find community with others. Spirituality can help combat the destructive and draining effects of addiction so you can take control of your life from substance dependency.

How Spiritual Crisis Can Lead to Substance Abuse

Addiction goes far beyond physical dependency (which may explain withdrawals but doesn’t explain the repetition of addictive behavior over long periods of time, despite its detrimental consequences). According to the spiritual model, addiction’s causes have a far deeper source — their origins often lie at the spiritual level. 

Humans, by nature, feel driven to connect with the true essence of their existence. But the lack of emphasis on spirituality in our culture often leaves us without a context for understanding ourselves in this sense. Without a universal perspective on life and the ability to tap into a sense of universal togetherness, we’re often left feeling futile, restless and alone. Substances can seem like an all-too-easy way to escape this incredibly unsettling feeling. 

Says neuroscientist and assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School Sat Bir Khalsa, “When people take substances, they’re seeking a certain experience — whether it’s escapist or transcendental or just wanting to move into a different psychological state – to get away from whatever is making them unhappy.” That escape route can become something we cling to, forming an addiction over time. And as we continue to repeat these behaviors that don’t serve us, addiction causes us to lose touch with our inner self.

Finding Universal Connection to Heal From Addiction

Like its causes, addiction’s solutions are also spiritual in nature. Developing (or growing) your spiritual practice can help you nurture parts of yourself that addiction has damaged and fill the voids that caused it in the first place.

Spiritual practices teach us how to surrender our ego, which keeps us attached to toxic habits and running from the parts of ourselves we don’t want to face. They teach us how to truly love ourselves and genuinely connect with others. And beyond helping us heal from addiction, they also help us find our true path, letting us live a fuller, more authentic life.

Once we feel grounded in our spirituality, the need to use substances to alleviate our suffering naturally falls away. As Khalsa puts it, “It makes sense that if you’re less stressed, you may not be so quick to seek substances to cope.” But unfortunately, studies show that mainstream addiction treatment severely underestimates the significance of spirituality in the recovery process.

Spiritual practices teach us how to surrender our ego, which keeps us attached to toxic habits and running from the parts of ourselves we don’t want to face.

Spiritual Counseling in Non-12-Step Recovery

Here at The Sanctuary, we understand the importance of spiritually healing from addiction. We also recognize that, while it may be new territory for some, introducing scientific proof of its impact helps us draw connections that enable deeper understanding. That’s why our therapeutic program includes a strong educational component – to help you learn new concepts that allow you to better connect with your spirit and move beyond addiction into being recovered.

For more on the role spirituality can play in addiction recovery, you can read our article, Healing The Whole: Why We Offer Alternative Treatment for Drug Addiction That Connects the Mind, Body, Soul, and Spirit.

Contact us today to learn about our treatment options and how we can help you cultivate a spiritual practice that serves your life in recovery and beyond. You can call us at (866) 825-6314 or email us at [email protected] for more information. 

Contact us today to learn about our treatment options