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The Connection Between Spirituality & Successful Addiction Recovery

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The number of individuals in the U.S. impacted by substance use disorders grows annually. In 2020, approximately 40.3 million individuals, ages 12 years and older were diagnosed with a substance use disorder. (1) In 2021, the amount of individuals diagnosed with a substance use disorder increased to 46.3 million. (2) Only 6 percent of those meeting the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder received treatment that year. (3) As substance use continues to grow throughout the U.S., so does the need for comprehensive and holistic treatment options.

At Guardian Recovery, we are dedicated to providing those experiencing substance use disorders with evidence-based treatment options. Integrating the 12-Step philosophy into our treatment plans, our professionally trained staff believes that spirituality can play a vital role in the recovery journey. We offer individualized addiction recovery services including 12-Step mentorshiptherapeutic interventions, and family workshops. Contact us today to begin your road to recovery.

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What Is the Spiritual Model of Addiction?

The spiritual model of addiction states that a spiritual disconnection from a high power is what fuels addiction. Based on the spiritual model of addiction, individuals must establish and foster a deep relationship with a higher power, themselves, the people around them, and the world around them in order to combat their substance use. The spiritual model of addiction follows principles that are based on the belief that individuals are unable to overcome addiction on their own. Rather they need the support of a higher power of their choice, a community of others involved in recovery, and a spiritual awakening.

What Is the Role of Spirituality in Addiction Treatment?

Incorporating spirituality into substance use treatment helps increase the possibilities related to health and one’s overall wellbeing. In substance use treatment spirituality differs from religious spirituality. Spirituality, in the context of addiction recovery, refers to an individual’s personal connection with themselves and their surroundings. At Guardian Recovery, we offer 12-step mentorships that focus on the 12-steps of recovery, which include spirituality.

The benefits of incorporating spirituality and holistic options in addiction treatment include:

  • Reducing various withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
  • Developing Stress management and stress relief.
  • Increasing the ability to regulate negative emotions and work through potential triggers that may lead to relapse.
  • Increasing the maintenance of one’s physical health.

Spirituality Offers Meaning & Purpose in Recovery

If one does not feel as if they have meaning or purpose in their life, they may not feel the need to seek substance use treatment. Spirituality helps individuals develop a deeper meaning to their life. This can encourage an individual to find meaning, connection, and purpose in their life, which can help an individual stay motivated throughout the addiction recovery process.

Spiritual Practices & Therapies in Spiritual Addiction Treatment

There are different spiritual practices and therapies that are incorporated into substance use treatment. These spiritual practices are often combined with traditional substance use treatment practices.

At Guardian Recovery, we utilize the following therapies to address the spiritual aspects of recovery:

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The Impact of Mindfulness & Meditation on Spiritual Growth

Mindfulness refers to the state of reaching mental awareness. Mindfulness helps individuals focus on the here and now, as opposed to overthinking about the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can help individuals slow down their negative thoughts, control impulsive reactions, and reconnect with their body. Mindfulness is used during the treatment of substance use disorders, and mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Research has found that mindfulness can help increase one’s affect, concentration, and well-being. (4)

Mindfulness and meditation are two practices that are closely related. Meditation is a practice that helps focus and clear the mind through various techniques that have been utilized for centuries. There are different types of meditation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, focused meditation, guided meditation, mantra meditation, and spiritual meditation.

Incorporating Spiritual Principles in Twelve-Step Programs

The 12-steps are guidelines utilized by various peer support groups including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA). The 12-steps are spiritually based and are effective tools to help treat substance use disorder.

The 12-steps incorporated into recovery include:

  1. Honesty – This step focuses on accepting that substance use has become unmanageable and that a person is powerless over their addiction (as in, they have lost the ability to choose whether or not they continue drinking or using).
  2. Hope – This step focuses on believing that a power greater than themselves can help them overcome their substance use (whatever that power may be).
  3. Surrender – This step focuses on relinquishing control over to a higher power of one’s understanding.
  4. Courage – This step focuses on the individual coming to an understanding on how their substance use has impacted themselves and those around them.
  5. Integrity – This step focuses on admitting to oneself, a higher power, and a trusted sponsor the exact nature of their decisions and indiscretions.
  6. Willingness – This step focuses on accepting and allowing a higher power to remove character flaws and deficits that may contribute to the engagement of substance use.
  7. Humility – This step focuses on humbly asking a higher power of one’s choice to remove an individual’s shortcomings.
  8. Love – This step focuses on making a list of all the people who were harmed during an individual’s substance use and seeing things from their perspective.
  9. Responsibility – This step focuses on making amends with those who were affected by an individual’s substance use, as long as it does not cause them any harm.
  10. Discipline – This step focuses on admitting when one is wrong in order to maintain their treatment progress.
  11. Awareness – This step focuses on discovering the plan that a higher power may have over one’s life and moving forward.
  12. Service – This step focuses on utilizing the principles discussed in the 12 steps throughout their lives and sharing the techniques with others experiencing substance use disorders.

Connecting With a Higher Power or Higher Self in the Recovery Journey

When incorporating spirituality into addiction recovery, one’s connection to a higher power can help an individual connect and reach their high self. The connection to a higher power helps individuals learn to release their control on things and situations that they can not control. Connecting with a higher power can also provide those in recovery with peace and comfort. Utilizing techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, exercise, and journaling can help individuals make these important spiritual connections.

Spirituality as a Source of Strength & Empowerment in Recovery

Addiction recovery is not an easy process and it can take discipline, motivation, and resilience. Spirituality can be a source of strength for those working to overcome their substance use. As an individual begins to reach their treatment goals, they begin to develop confidence in their ability to maintain their sobriety long-term.

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If you suspect that you or someone you love are experiencing addiction or dependency to a substance, Guardian Recovery can aid with the development of adaptive coping techniques. We provide holistic therapy in conjunction with therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive-Behavioral TherapyDialectical Behavior Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. Contact us today to receive a free, no obligation insurance benefits check to determine which of our treatment options are covered by your health insurance plan. One of our Treatment Advisors is ready to speak with you to help guide you through our simple admissions process. Start your recovery journey with Guardian Recovery.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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