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Do you consider yourself a person of faith? What religion, if any, would you say you are part of? Is spirituality an important part of your life?

These are big—and personal—questions. And sometimes, they are questions that get tangled up in conversations about getting and staying sober. 

So let’s take a look at these concepts and how they apply—or don’t apply—to your recovery journey.

Questions of Faith

The late popstar George Michael was insistent in one of his catchiest songs that he had to have faith. But the idea of faith can sometimes be misused when it comes to issues of sobriety.

For example, some (no doubt well-meaning but poorly informed) individuals might tell you that you would not be struggling with drugs or alcohol if only you had more faith. That point of view ignores the fact that a substance use disorder is a treatable but incurable brain disease that does not discriminate between those with and those without faith. The idea that faith is a cure for a substance use disorder is one of many unhelpful myths.

Once you are in recovery, questions of faith may arise again while you are choosing the right recovery program for you. For example, the 12-Step approach that is central to Alcoholics Anonymous includes many references to God and the need to turn over your difficulties with drugs or alcohol to him. If you are not a person of faith, however, that might not be the most helpful advice.

Wrestling with Religion

While they are often thought of together, having faith in a higher power and practicing a particular religion are not necessarily the same thing. Religious practice may add the kind of ritual to your life that can be helpful as you work to stay sober. But you can also introduce whole secular rituals into your recovery practice—or borrow helpful tools from religions you do not practice in earnest.

Take, for example, mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is a practice that encourages you to learn to stay more frequently in the present moment rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. It can be a very helpful technique for a person in recovery. Some people, however, are reluctant to try mindfulness because they know it has its roots in Buddhism—and that might feel like a religious conflict.

But it does not have to be. Mindfulness—to stick with this example—can be practiced without reference to any religion at all or in harmony with a variety of religious ideas and tenets. The real question for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder is not whether something is or is not associated with a particular religion but whether or not it helps them maintain their sobriety day after day.

A Spirited Consideration of Spirituality

In some ways, the idea of spirituality can be hard to pin down. Outside the context of religion and/or faith, the notion of spirituality can seem a little woo-woo to some people. When they hear the word, they may think of crystals or astrology or other similar things—that they may be convinced that all of that is hokum.

But there is another way to look at the idea of spirituality that can be helpful to a person in recovery. A spiritual outlook can simply mean you have decided to open yourself up to feelings of wonder and amazement—the things that can make a moment seem absolutely magical (even if you firmly believe that it is not, in fact, magical at all). Keeping your eyes and heart open to those moments can help support your sobriety because they remind you of all the things worth experiencing that you might not have experienced if you had not given up drugs or alcohol. It is a kind of ongoing antidote to things like cynicism and hopelessness that can undermine your hard-won sobriety.

We Have Faith In You and Your Ability to Get Sober

If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, you may have lost faith in yourself as your physical and mental health have deteriorated and things in your life seem to be falling apart. It may seem like nothing—not even a higher power—can help. 

Fortunately, that is not true.

At French Creek Recovery Center—located in Meadville, Pennsylvania—we put our faith in evidence-based practices that have been shown to help individuals get and stay sober. We will see you through medically supervised detoxification and follow that up with a robust rehabilitation program that includes treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders. And then we provide alumni services and a continuum of care to help you start your recovery journey with confidence.

The first step is up to you as you start your journey back to sobriety. We have faith in you.