Faith is frequently at the crossroads of addiction and recovery. But is it an all-or-nothing proposition? Will the power of faith, however you choose to define it, reinforce your goals and help make sobriety easier? It depends on your perspective.
What Defines Faith?
For many people in recovery, participating in 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous provides a spiritual foundation they find necessary for sobriety. They might even feel inclined to choose another recovery support program that’s based solely on Christianity, Celebrate Recovery.
Other individuals sometimes believe the Steps don’t speak to them or their experiences, and feel restricted by the overarching focus on God. They often prefer a more secular recovery support program, such as Secular Organizations for Sobriety or SMART Recovery.
Still others find that working the Steps during their inpatient rehabilitation helps them find an internal compass that guides them in various ways, and while they don’t need a particular doctrine to follow, they like to stay open to spiritual discovery. They might also use resources such as Daily Strength and other online support groups.
Do you need faith to ensure wellness? If so, what does it look like? What if your faith in recovery doesn’t resemble someone else’s—does that mean it’s “working”?
Possibly. Many things. Probably.
Oxford Languages indicates there are two definitions for faith, which we offer verbatim:
- Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
- Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
Let’s explore these two definitions, as there’s really no right or wrong answer: just a point of preference.
Trust in Yourself…and in the Process
Rarely will most of us admit it, but we’re often more grounded when we use specific routines and rituals to create a framework for our daily life. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for spontaneity: only that we perform better when certain aspects of it are structured.
When someone is tangled within the throes of addiction, rarely does anything provide balance. Faith is one way to restore it. However you choose to define it, whether as an intrinsic belief in your current recovery path because of the tools you now have or as a spiritual compass you place value in, as long as you have confidence in what keeps you grounded and on target, that could be defined as faith.
“Spiritual Apprehension” or Openness?
In her book, Speaking of Faith: Why It Matters and How to Talk About It, On Being Project founder and host Krista Tippett says, “In many ways, religion comes from the same place in us that art comes from. The language of the human heart [is] poetry.”
With a Master of Divinity from Yale, Tippett often explores “the intersection of spiritual inquiry, social healing, science, and culture.” In her view, “spiritual humility is not about getting small, not about debasing oneself, but about approaching everything and everyone else with a readiness to see goodness and to be surprised.”
This openness, in a way, transcends the burden of proof for some individuals, allowing them to put their trust in faith to be the proverbial guiding light.
Using Various Forms of Faith for Support
The only way to be certain how faith serves you is to try various aspects of application and determine what rings true. This practice doesn’t require you to make hard and fast decisions about religion, denomination, church, or doctrine—unless that’s your choice. There are many other ways to exercise the rites of faith in methods that feel authentic to your experiences.
- As an example of how to gently embrace aspects of art and faith, On Being offers free digital care packages, such as “For the Exhausted and Overwhelmed” filled with inspirational podcasts, poetry, and other resources.
- Cultivating mindfulness allows you to develop a deeper sense of understanding not only of your recovery, but also other aspects of your life. The Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota extends tips on this practice.
- Sometimes when we feel the world is closing in around us, we lose our sense of awe, or wonder. By restoring awe, you might recognize a different type of faith rooted in this powerful emotion. The Greater Good Science Center offers many resources for this pursuit.
- Connecting with others, whether giving back through volunteerism, being present in a sober support network, or working out concepts with spiritual advisors, allows you to pursue aspects of your faith through direct action.
Willingway’s Community of Caring
After rehab, it’s essential to know that you have many more opportunities than before, and a wider circle of people who understand your journey and are willing to lend a helping hand. Seek out one of Willingway’s continuing care support groups throughout the Southeast to find like-minded people.