Why work on spirituality? Because it can make the difference between success or failure in addiction recovery, and therefore maybe the difference between life or death. Individual therapy or an intensive outpatient program may be helpfulin clarifying this concept. It is the key to effective use of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and other 12-step facilitation programs. When people attend their first meetings of 12-step facilitation programs and find they dislike these programs, the most common reason is discomfort with all the talk about God. This may look like a barrier, making these addiction recovery programs useless to them, but it does not have to be. Many people feel skeptical about religion. They may have had bad experiences with religious people or institutions. Perhaps they just feel that God has not been there in their lives. Hearing God or a Higher Power mentioned in 7 of the 12 Steps may be an immediate turn-off. However, many people who don’t believe in God, or who believe that no one can know whether God exists, find that they can use AA, NA, and other 12-step facilitation programs to make the changes they want to make in their lives. The key is understanding the difference between spirituality and religion and individual therapy or an intensive outpatient program is designed to help in this process.
They may have had an experience that is very common among people attending their first meetings of AA, NA, or other 12-step facilitation programs. Their first reaction on meeting people and hearing them talk about their lives can be a feeling of elation: After years, maybe a lifetime, of feeling that no one really understands their lives and how they feel, suddenly they find a group where some of the people seem a lot like them! For many people just entering addiction recovery, it is the first experience in their lives of feeling that they fit in. More than that, they seem happy with their lives. They have found something they have been looking for, and it fills them with hope. Then people start talking a lot about God and/or their Higher Power. This may not be a problem for them if they are already content with their spiritual life, but for anyone who has become disillusioned and felt rejected, judged, or betrayed by religion and religious people, it can feel as if a wonderful gift has been offered and then snatched out of their grasp. That can lead to despair or an unwillingness to use a proven resource to help that addict live life free of their addiction. Fortunately, it does not have to be that way. Individual therapy or an intensive outpatient therapy program can help with the development of a higher power that they can adopt and utilize to support them in their addiction recovery.