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Addictions

Spiritual Approaches to Addiction Recovery

A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP, Kaushik Misra, Ph.D., Amy K. Epner, Ph.D., and Galen Morgan Cooper, Ph.D.

Throughout this topic center on addiction, we applied the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual (BPSS) model of addiction. We reviewed that the development of an addiction rests heavily on individual biological factors. However, we emphasized recovery from addiction rests heavily on individual psychological factors. We then discussed the social component of the BPSS that moves beyond individual factors to include group influences that affect both addiction and recovery. We now come to the final portion of the BPSS model: the spiritual approach to addiction recovery.

Research has repeatedly demonstrated that spirituality can have a positive effect on recovery from many diseases and disorders. It is unknown the precise source of this effect. Whether recovery does indeed originate because of a "power greater than ourselves" (aka, God), or whether it is due to the psychological benefit of hope that such a belief instills, the fact remains that many people's health is benefitted by their spiritual beliefs and practices. As God and related concepts do not lend themselves to scientific research, we are in no position to comment upon the reasons for this effect. What we can say is that research has indicated that a spiritual faith or practice can be beneficial in the recovery from many diseases and disorders.

We must also emphasize that while the most well known spiritual approach to recovery is the 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), spirituality is not limited to a belief in a power greater than oneself. Spirituality might more broadly include a belief that life has a meaning and purpose. Such a belief might provide a guideline for living according to that meaning and purpose. Restoring a meaning and purpose to life appears to be an essential ingredient to any successful recovery effort. Because many people's recovery efforts have benefited from identifying their own unique understanding of life's meaning and purpose, it is safe to conclude that spirituality can be an important component of recovery.  For more information, see the section on the Spirituality of Addiction.

 

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