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.
How Spiritual Crisis Leads 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). The causes of addiction have a far deeper source: its 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 more universal perspective on life and 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 have been damaged by addiction, 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 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 spirituality in recovery, see our article, Healing The Whole: Why We Offer Alternative Treatment for Drug Addiction That Connects the Mind, Body, Soul, and Spirit.
To learn about our treatment options and how we can help you cultivate a spiritual practice that serves your life in recovery and beyond, call us at (877) 710-3385 or email us at [email protected] today.
He is the Founder, Administrator, Counselor at the Sanctuary at Sedona.
He has a BA in Political Science and is currently Senior teaching staff at Four Winds Society, an international school of energy medicine. His credentials also include being an Ordained Minister; a Certified Shamanic Breathwork® Facilitator; a Founding Member Society for Shamanic Practitioners; a Member of Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology; a Member of the National Institute for Holistic Addiction Studies. [email protected]