Spirituality and Substance Abuse

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Some people consider themselves “spiritual” while others do not. But spirituality in its broadest sense–the search for connection to something greater than ourselves and/or the search for meaning in our lives–plays a role in all of our lives. In the addiction recovery context, developing one’s sense of spiritual connection can be especially powerful in sustaining long-term sobriety. So, whatever your attitude toward spirituality, your inner life and beliefs about existence, death, and the human experience are relevant to your recovery.

When you read phrases like quality of life, stress management, and social support, what comes to mind? Do you feel like you have a good understanding of these concepts? Do you believe that you are in control of your quality of life and stress levels? Do you believe that being part of a community is important?

How meaningful and healthy your life feels to you in large part depends on how well you handle stress and whether you have healthy relationships with people who inspire you to live more fully. A strong spiritual practice can help you manage life’s difficulties and strengthen your ties with friends and family.

What Science Has to Say

Scientists and medical professionals have examined the role of beliefs about the world and have found that whether a belief is factually true or not is irrelevant—what matters is that the belief affects how we experience life, handle stress, and connect with others. So, for example, if you believe that people are generally untrustworthy, you will approach life with a sense of suspicion and caution that will affect your quality of life. If you believe that you must always be helpful to others, even at your own expense, you might find yourself stuck in codependent patterns that make relationships difficult.

On the other hand, believing that you can connect with and call on a power greater than yourself for help and support, or that you are worth the time and effort it takes to care for yourself, can positively impact your efforts to stay sober. Further, people who rely on their faith or a spiritually structured mindset report the following:

  • Satisfaction with life generally
  • Greater day-to-day happiness
  • Less residual negative emotions following hardship or trauma

Spirituality and Health in the Modern World

Scholars and sociologists often see religion as having a functional purpose. Essentially, religion and spirituality can be seen as tools for the following:

  • Assigning meaning and purpose to your life
  • Promoting and sustaining social connections
  • Catalyzing the ability to control social and personal behavior
  • Motivating physical activity and mental health
  • Inspiring people to work actively toward equality and positive social change

Of course, a person can be spiritual without being religious (and vice versa). When it comes to developing your own spirituality, consider four dimensions of connection:

  • Connection with self (personal dimension)
  • Connection with others (social dimension)
  • Connection with nature (the environment)
  • Connection with God or the divine (existential dimension)

A spiritual outlook on life might look a lot like self-care: care for one’s mental, physical, and emotional health; taking opportunities for meaningful social interaction; and exploring the meaning of life and death for the purpose of living more fully and compassionately.

Virtues and Their Role at St. Gregory Recovery Center

St. Gregory’s prides itself on being scientifically, philosophically, and spiritually informed in its approach to healing and sobriety. With the Virtuous Life program as our basis, we encourage our clients to develop their spirituality regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof. Specifically, we promote the practice of the following:

  • Faith (total trust and confidence in a higher power)
  • Hope (the belief that things will be good or get better)
  • Love (compassion and empathy for all creatures and environments)
  • Prudence (exercising caution and consciousness in all actions)
  • Justice (to practice what is fair, pay what is due, and to accept the consequences of our actions)
  • Fortitude (practicing bravery when we’re scared)
  • Temperance (practicing moderation in all that we indulge in—and total abstinence from substances in the case of addiction)

Strengthening each of these virtues sets you up to confidently and healthily combat stressors that trigger substance abuse—and to enrich your life in the process.

Don’t hesitate to contact our Iowa facility with questions about our approach to recovery and life. We will listen to your concerns and create a treatment plan that fits your specific needs.

Researching Iowa addiction specialists? To learn more about programs offered at St. Gregory Recovery Center, call and speak with someone today, at (888) 778-5833.

Our graduates tell their stories…

When first arriving at St. Gregory I had mixed feelings about the health and wellness workouts. I came in at 136 lbs and didn’t think it was possible to reach...
- Chris
The good life is not merely a life free from addictions, physical and/or psychological—addictions that usually are the outward manifestations of deeper problems—but a life lived in harmonious balance, free...
- Matt
I came to St. Gregory’s at my all-time worst—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having gone through a bad rehab experience once before, I had been very reluctant in succumbing to that...
- CJ
No matter where I start my thought process when reflecting upon my time before, during and after St. Gregory’s, I always seem to end up in the same place in...
- Kaele


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