What is the Role of a Higher Power in Addiction Recovery?

The concept of a higher power, or something greater than oneself, is a common one in the conversations around addiction recovery. Although traditionally associated with religious views, a higher power can take many different forms and relate to many philosophies of life. Whatever higher power an individual chooses to believe in, if she or he does, the idea of this entity can be a powerful source of guidance and comfort when attempting to overcome the difficult obstacles of addiction recovery.

Addiction is a complex disease not easily remedied through sheer willpower alone. Many believe that the courage and strength needed to fight and recover from addiction can come solely from oneself, but for many, seeking a higher power to give them strength and hope can be a powerful weapon in this battle.

The role of a higher power has even been acknowledged in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) in the definition of Substance Abuse Disorders. According to the DSM-IV-TR, “Religious or spiritual interventions, although not considered primary methods of treatment, may be important for the addict or alcoholic’s overall recovery”.

In what ways can a higher power help a person in recovery? Many feel that, in addition to providing a moral foundation, a higher power can provide hope, comfort, and guidance throughout recovery. A higher power can provide courage and strength when needed, if the individual believes so. This strength can be extremely helpful when the individual wants to resist the urge to return to old habits and find meaning in the struggles of recovery.

A higher power can also provide a sense of purpose. Many recovering addicts have a hard time finding the “why” or the purpose to stay in recovery. Consider the belief that God or a higher power has an individual plan and purpose for each of us. Believing this could give an addict the strength and hope to stay in recovery, even when times are hard or the chances of relapse seem overwhelming.

The relationship with one’s higher power can also be comforting and provide a source of solace in hard times. It can be difficult to consider yourself worthy of help and a higher power can provide unconditional love and acceptance, regardless of the individual’s present state in life.

In summary, whatever a person considers a higher power, if anything, it is clearly an important consideration in the recovery process. A higher power provides strength and hope, fosters a sense of purpose, and improves the chance of successful addiction recovery. It is an important part of addiction recovery for many, and any individual looking into ways to reduce instances of relapse should consider it a possible aid in his or her journey towards a better life.

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