The Serenity Prayer opens a wide door to spiritual growth and healing, one that embraces people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs about God. It offers spiritual truths and practical wisdom to addicts and non-addicts alike. People who learn to live and breathe this prayer in their daily lives discover, in the balance between acceptance and change, the precious gift of serenity—a gift that is available to us with each new day and enlightens our lifelong, spiritual journey.
Drug addiction took me down a road where imagination didn’t exist anymore. I wasn’t capable of having dreams because every moment of my life consisted of doing whatever I had to do to get my next fix. I couldn’t function without drugs, but they were killing me. When I began my journey of recovery, I was introduced to four key spiritual principles to live by in order to let my imagination flow, achieve my dreams, and help others.
Spirituality can mean so many different things, but it’s essentially what keeps us grounded in our lives. Spirituality brings us balance, peace, joy and so much more, and it’s something that we all have to work towards each day. 12-Step programs emphasize spirituality because of how truly transformational it is on the heart. For many who have struggled with addiction, there is a void that needs to be filled – and while we try to use substances to fill that gap, they simply don’t work. Throughout recovery, however, we can actively strengthen our spiritual selves to fill the missing pieces in our lives.
Addiction robbed us of the power of choice. And we lost our creativity and spontaneity along with it. We were cut off from the joy of life… The restoration of the power of choice means we can advance forward as creative beings. We are participating in the unfolding reality before us. We have that power and we seek to use it wisely or to learn from the lessons that inevitably come when we use it unwisely.
A newcomer asked me recently what a spiritual awakening means. What a great question… The spirit does not wake with a start. There is no spiritual alarm clock to set. In my experience, a spiritual awakening is a gradual process. Of course, there is the burning bush experience, the vision. And while I experienced a mystical jolt of the soul while detoxifying in Mexico, I’ve come to trust my knowledge from practical experience more than that fever dream, that hallucinogenic product of my delirium.
In AA they often say that the alcoholic has to hit rock bottom before they can get sober. Makes you think of social services, homelessness, and the park bench stereotype. I prefer to think of it as my turning point because it wasn’t a big or dramatic event, it was simply a combination of mainly two things: I’d had it with drinking, and at the right moment, I saw my life line. I was desperate to stop, and just when I needed it, there was a chance for me to ask for help so I did. Oh, and a third ingredient: a tiny bit of hope.
I had worked on sobriety for quite some time before I understood that I was missing the magic ingredient of other people. I did not want to trouble anyone. I did not want to be different than anyone. And I felt no personal connection to women in recovery. I wanted to quietly change one tiny part of my life and then get on with the rest of it. So I took the isolated approach. I troubled no one; was no different than anyone; and developed no personal connections.
Why is the idea of “belonging to something greater than oneself” such an intense psychosocial need? More importantly, is “God” the only path to that sort of belonging? And is sobriety — and even regular garden-variety self-improvement — really out of reach if one does not believe in the supernatural? Many people believe so… What is the benefit of twining religion with addiction recovery? And is there hope for addicts who prefer a different type of motivation than “spiritual guidance” for turning their life around?