What is The Spiritual Aspect of Sobriety? - Kentucky Addiction & Mental Health Treatment

What is The Spiritual Aspect of Sobriety?

Monday, August 20, 2018 | By Chris Clancy

spiritual woman meditating

People can attest just about anything to being the reason why someone “became” an addict. However, for those of us who make it into the rooms of a 12 step program on the journey of recovery, we are often surprised, and to be honest, sometimes even doubtful, when we hear that what was really our problem, was that we were spiritually sick.

We are told that we have to find some sort of spirituality in order to continue to stay sober, which makes many of us, well… super uncomfortable. The whole… God thing, is honestly one of the most common reasons why many people don’t move forward with the program.

However, before you go running into the hills, remembering every Sunday spent in Church or every time you had to get dressed up to attend temple for holidays or those awful panty hose and uncomfortable seats, be comforted in knowing that Spirituality and Religion are two TOTALLY different things. Let me explain.

What is Spirituality?

Okay, so the definition of spirituality is so wide and diverse, that it is honestly pretty hard to define in one sentence. So here are a few quotes from “spiritual peoples” to help put things into a little bit of perspective:

  • “Spirituality is a brave search for the truth about existence, fearlessly peering into the mysterious nature of life”
  • “Much of spiritual life is self-acceptance, maybe all of it” – Jack Kornfield
  • “I looked in temples, churches, and mosques, but I found the Divine within my heart” – Rumi
  • “The essence of spiritual life is simply to use our free will properly” – Radhanath Swami
  • Religion is the belief in someone else’s experience. Spirituality is having your own experience” – Deepak Chopra

And my personal favorite:

  • “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals itself in the slight details we are able to perceive without frail and feeble mind” – Albert Einstein

Long story short, the major difference between spirituality and religion, is that spirituality can be much more all-encompassing than any religion you have tried, or avoided, which is exactly what 12 step programs intended when they discuss a Higher Power.

The Higher Power Thing

For a long time, for most people struggling with addiction, there was always a power struggle with control. Using was the only way many of us knew how to feel like we were in control, or completely out of control, whichever we liked to feel more. Ask almost any clean and sober addict or alcoholic if they have a control problem, and they will probably laugh and tell you a funny story about how their control issues have gotten them into trouble in the past or even in their current life!

The importance of a Higher Power is that we are able to surrender our control to something else. Let’s be real here, the idea of giving control to another human being probably makes you cringe as much as it does for me, but that is why our Higher Power is something OTHER than any individual human. Your HP, should you choose to accept it, should be something, ANYTHING, that is totally out of your control, something with more power than you, and something that wants the best for you.

If you are having a hard time figuring out just what you want your HP to look like, try a couple of these on for size!:

  • Gravity – no matter how hard you try, you cannot control gravity, it controls the tides, time, speed, the earth’s rotation, pretty much everything.
  • Nature – meditate on how strong and sturdy nature is. When humans are dead and gone, the earth will grow from us, forever creating new life.
  • The Ocean – massive, mysterious, deep, and full of life. Definitely out of your control and more powerful than any of us.
  • The Universe – we honestly don’t even know just how massive it really is, and it is pretty unfathomable when we really think about how everything that makes up our being is the same stuff that makes up the entire rest of the universe (Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Hydrogen, to be precise)

Or hey, you might even choose to re-embrace the religion you were raised in or looking into a new one, which is awesome too!

Whatever you chose to make your Higher Power, the most important factor is not only that it should be something YOU have no power over, but it should be something you feel connected to in some way or another.

spiritual woman

Why is Spirituality Important for Sobriety?

If you take all of the 12 steps together and condense them into one basic idea, it is pretty much, to stop being selfish. Now you might be thinking, “Who, ME?” and the answer is, yes, you, but not just you. All of us, everyone. Human beings are somewhat designed to be selfish, it was an evolved defense mechanism that was designed to help us stay alive.

However, for addicts and alcoholics, our instinctual desires to be safe, protected, and to get what we need, began to get a little out of whack somewhere along the line, which put is into a position of developing a simultaneously inflated and deflated ego, which is either constantly putting us down, or putting us above everyone else. Re-read that a few times for good measure.

So the reason spirituality is so important in sobriety is because spirituality primarily helps us to be “other-oriented” or in other words, to stop thinking about ourselves all the time. The whole purpose of the 12th step usually consists of going out and helping other people to get sober.

The step literally promises that we will have had a spiritual awakening as a result of working the previous 11 steps, and now our job is to go out and live everything we’ve learned. Well, what we have learned in the previous 11 steps was:

  • How to surrender our problems to something else
  • How to let go, accept, and forgive the BS of the past
  • How to be better people, just a little, every day

If you look at any form of spiritual practice and even most religions, they all somewhat promote these ideals, which are basically just encouraging humans to be kind to each other and try to make life a little bit easier for someone else, each day. This, in turn, makes our lives exponentially easier because we no longer have to fight everyone and everything. Instead, we are turning our problems over to our Higher Power, and learning to become a little more spiritual, every day.

Important side note, no matter what form of spirituality or religion you choose to embark with, remember to be gentle with yourself! You are not a guru, or the pope, what you are, is an addict looking for a better life. Some days are going to be beautiful, and some days you are going to just be grateful you didn’t get high, but no matter what, your spirituality will work with you as long as you work with it!

Getting Help

It can be overwhelming even thinking about going to rehab, never mind actually doing it. However, if you are suffering from even just one of these signs, reaching out for help is the best chance you have to put an end to your substance use disorder for good.

Do not ignore yourself and your needs. You are worth getting the appropriate treatment so that you no longer have to live in this dangerous cycle of abuse. Reach out to us right now. We can help.

Get the best treatment for yourself or a loved one.

Fill out the form below and we will reach out to you to let you know how we can help you get your life back!


Stay Up To Date

  • I Think I’m Addicted to Prescription Meds – Am I an Addict?

    “It’s been prescribed to me, so it isn’t dangerous.”   This is one of the greatest myths surrounding prescription painkillers. When you think of substance abuse, you probably think of street drugs. But did you know prescription medicatio

  • 5 Stress Relief Tools for Recovering Addicts

    Family problems, traffic jams and looming deadlines. Everybody has experienced stress at some point, but for individuals suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, stress can be destructive. Stress overload – or an inability

  • 10 Common Fears of Rehab and How to Overcome Them

    Making the decision to enter a treatment facility to get help with an addiction is certainly not easy. There are many common fears of entering rehab that come up when contemplating this decision. The good news is, you’re not alone in feeling this w

  • parent enabling daughter

    How to Stop Enabling an Addict

    Addiction is a tough disease — both for the person with the problem, as well as their friends and families, who may feel helpless in their ability to keep a loved one out of harm’s way. Though addictions only affect the addict themselves on a phy

  • Staying Motivated in Recovery

    Staying Motivated in Recovery

    Addiction is a deadly disease that can sneak up on you when you least expect it. One minute you think you have your life under control and the next minute you realize you are lying to everyone, including yourself. You have difficulty managing your wo

  • 12-Step Meetings: What to Expect

    If you’ve just completed a treatment program and are looking to get connected to people in recovery or if you’d like to stop drinking or using drugs and are looking for some support, 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonym

  • Michaela’s Story: Road to Recovery

    It is estimated more than two-thirds of people that struggle with addiction have experienced some type of childhood trauma. For Michaela S., it was a family tragedy. She was just 9-years-old when she lost her brother in an ATV accident. He was only a

  • Sober Fall Activities Near Bowling Green

    Fall is a great time to get outside and enjoy the cooler weather and head out for some festive family activities. A major contributor in long-term recovery and preventing relapse is steering clear of triggers. The best way to do that is to change you

  • A Guide to 12-Step Meetings

    As part of your continuing care plan, it will be recommended you attend regular 12-step meetings for support and encouragement. Understanding the founding principles and the general meeting guidelines can help ease some fears and anxiety you might be

  • Finding Hope through Family Therapy

    At JourneyPure Bowling Green, we feel very strongly that family involvement throughout one’s addiction treatment is essential for long-term recovery. Organizations including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and U.S. Department of Health and Hum

  • The Heroin Epidemic in Kentucky

    Known as “The Bluegrass State,” Kentucky is home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby, is notorious for its bourbon, coal mines and even fried chicken. What it’s lesser known is the devastating effect heroin is having on families. There is a hero

  • songwriting therapy

    Songwriting Therapy Heals Patients in Recovery

    For many, especially those undergoing treatment for addiction and mental health issues, it can be difficult to express feelings verbally. Addiction is rarely the only struggle one’s facing when they enter treatment; it’s often coupled with some t



  • Everyone who works here is very kind and helpful. They really want what is best for you. The housing is super nice and comfortable. I am very pleased with the time I spent here.



  • JourneyPure Bowling Green has changed my life this is the first time I have ever been to a Rehabilitation Center and while it was not at all what I expected, it was exactly what I needed.



  • Great place. I learned much here about my addiction and I feel that I now have the tools to control it. They have great a great staff and the accommodations are top notch.

    Terry F


  • My family member is still sober a year and a half after his treatment stay here.



  • This place was GREAT! I feel like they helped me with much more than I expected.

    Tim M


  • I loved my time here and I learned a lot about my recovery. All the staff were great and really helped me in the areas that I needed help in.

    Caleb H


  • The people here are very nice and will do whatever it takes to help you out, they are very helpful, its a great place to start off your sobriety



  • I have enjoyed my stay and feel very confident in my recovery. Everyone here has been wonderful and very helpful. I would recommend Journey Pure to anyone seeking recovery.