The lives of family and friends of alcoholics and addicts are littered with tragedy, chaos, worry, and fear. An addict's life is taken over by the substance he abuses, making his or her actions unpredictable, irrational, and sometimes criminal. Everyone feels the devastating effects of addiction.
One thing is clear -- we need a miracle.
Thanks to the 12 steps and her work with the metaphysical text, "A Course in Miracles," best-selling author and motivational speaker Gabrielle Bernstein is in her ninth year of recovery from drugs and alcohol. Bernstein, well known for her teachings from "A Course in Miracles," says a miracle isn't the gates of heaven opening up and angels singing. "Simply put, a miracle is a shift in perception, it's just when we change our mind. And, so the moment that somebody says, 'I want to get clean,' that's a miracle."
Addiction affects the physical, emotional, cognitive, family, social, and spiritual domains. Because addiction is a disease that thrives in isolation and fear, some leading experts have called it a spiritual disorder. They say the treatment of addiction must involve all realms of life, including developing a sense of spirituality.
Researchers have found a direct correlation between spirituality and positive outcomes in those with substance use disorder.
Since Alcoholics Anonymous groups began meeting in 1935, millions of people have achieved a life of substance-free recovery through the spiritual fellowship. The first two steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are about admitting your powerlessness over alcohol, and believing a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity. Having a spiritual community like AA can help a person in crisis. Having a person to call upon who understands your problems and shares a similar code of conduct and beliefs can be life-saving.
We know spirituality can be a powerful force for healing, but what is it exactly?
Definitions of spirituality vary. Most agree that spirituality is a very personal relationship with your inner world; it has no specific religious affiliation or dogma. Charles L. Whitfield, M.D., author of "Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families," defines spirituality as "a personal relationship between an individual and a transcendent or higher being, force, energy or mind of the Universe."
Bernstein's definition of spirituality: "A journey of unlearning fear and remembering love."
She says sobriety and recovery require surrendering to a higher power and releasing your own grip of control. "It's not something that can be white-knuckled. It' not something that can be done, you know, because we're just forcing ourselves to do it. In that forceful nature, we will always fall back."
Bringing spirituality into your life can be as simple as walking in nature, paying attention to your breathing, lighting a candle, listening to classical music, reading poetry or sacred texts, praying, and meditating.
What's your definition of spirituality, and how has it helped you? Use the hashtag #14Days to share your thoughts.
If you are just beginning your journey with us in the #14Days on the Wagon challenge, it's not too late to take some healthy first steps. Last week Dr. Drew explained addiction is not a moral issue. Nick Ortner gave us a tapping demonstration to help relieve stress. And Dr. Chinazo Cunningham talked about why medical intervention is critical in fighting America's prescription opioid epidemic.