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What’s the Connection Between Sobriety, Spirituality, and Mental Health?

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The idea of spirituality and its connection to sobriety is common. Addiction programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) often start or end with the serenity prayer which says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Many in recovery cite their spirituality as a major influence in their sobriety. However, the connection is less about religion and more about what it represents in the world of addiction.

Not to say that religion isn’t a major component for many — it is. But those who aren’t religious can still find comfort and solace. Non-denominational teachings can provide the same sense of peace, hope, and forgiveness. Spiritual wellness, no matter what that looks like for each person, can aid in sobriety because it taps into the mindset and mental health issues present for many people battling addiction.

Spirituality and Hope

Spirituality is positive teaching that gives people a sense of hope. The faith that things can get better is a big part of recovery in both an addiction and mental health sense. Both can feel hopeless and leave people feeling alone. Often, a big struggle in maintaining sobriety is the feeling that recovery isn’t possible. Spirituality provides a gentle nudge in the right direction for many people searching for a positive light in the world of their addiction and mental health struggles.

Spirituality can have such a positive impact on a person’s well-being that it’s incorporated into patient-centered care because of the impact it can have on healing. The mind is just as important as the body in terms of recovery and wellness. Providing hope can create a major mindset shift.

Practicing the Art of Mindfulness

A clear mind can do a lot in the way of achieving spiritual clarity and peace, but it’s not an easy thing to obtain. Practicing the art of mindfulness is a great way to get there, which is something that non-denominational tactics like yoga and meditation can help to achieve. Being mindful is about being aware and in the moment, free of any judgement about what something should be.

For some in recovery, practicing mindfulness allowed them to appreciate everything for what it was without referring back to old experiences or adding context. It helps with coping, acceptance, and staying in the now. It can be hard to get ahold of complex emotions when you’ve coped with them by using substances.  Spirituality and mindfulness can aid in handling those emotions in a healthy way.

The Importance of Forgiveness

One major issue that can be hard to overcome in terms of addiction and resultant mental health issues is shame. People living with depression and anxiety may experience shame in addition to fear and sadness. Others with addiction may find that shame is a major hurdle in their recovery. Those who battle both addiction and a mental health disorder may experience shame on a variety of different levels, which can make for a difficult emotional healing process.

Forgiveness is important in facing shame and moving past those negative feelings. A major component in spirituality is the representation of forgiveness, which can help people release their feelings of shame. This connection makes spirituality extremely beneficial in the recovery process. In the AA and NA programs, one of the steps is to make amends because of the power forgiveness can hold.

Treating the Body and the Mind

The process of recovery is a body and mind process. Integrative care focuses on the whole person: body, mind, and spirit, and it’s a practice that’s important in many different aspects of wellness. It’s the idea that physical ailments can affect a person’s mental health, and vice versa. A wellness approach that integrates mind and body can do great things for a person’s well-being.

There are plenty of treatment options and resources available to help individuals access addiction recovery services to treat their bodies and minds, including group counseling and holistic care. Detox, exercise, psychotherapy, mindfulness, and healthy eating are all interconnected in terms of the treatment process. Spirituality is a way of achieving wellness for the mind, and it can help a person with that aspect of recovery.

The Mental Health Connection

Mental health and addiction can often go hand in hand. Sometimes, mental health struggles can lead a person to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol as a way to cope. Other times, an addiction and the trauma involved in the lifestyle of addition can lead to mental health issues. Co-occurring disorders, in which a person is diagnosed with a mental health disorder and a substance abuse problem, can lead to a complex recovery process.

However, it’s important for both to be addressed at the same time for the best chance for long-term recovery. Getting to the root of the co-occurring disorders can aid in understanding why those feelings exist and how to address them. Spirituality is a tool in helping the mind get through that process with acceptance, forgiveness, and understanding.

Spirituality means something a little different to everyone. For some, it’s the presence of God and the teachings of a specific religion. For others, it’s a much more loosely defined feeling of awareness, mindfulness, and peace. There isn’t a right or wrong sense of spirituality, but it can be a powerful connection to the world of addiction and mental health. It provides hope, mindfulness and forgiveness, which can aid in treating the whole person. Spirituality represents healing, and that’s a powerful notion for those working to find sobriety and long-term recovery.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

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Author Bio: Ainsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book or podcast. Her life goal is to find the most delicious mac n’ cheese in every town she visits.

Image Source: Pexels

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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