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When you’re struggling with addiction, your ultimate goal is long-term sobriety. What long-term sobriety looks like for you can be different than it does for other people. Ultimately, your recovery process is entirely your own. It’s your path and your journey, and you have to do what feels right for you.

As part of that, you may find that focusing more on spirituality is critical for maintaining long-term sobriety.

We encourage people to explore what spirituality means to them individually. It’s so personal to think about spiritual beliefs and connections. When you can explore spirituality, it becomes a coping mechanism for you, allows you to overcome negative thinking, and promotes emotional wellness on a holistic level.

We explore some of these topics in more detail below.

What Is Long-Term Sobriety?

When you first get sober from drugs or alcohol following substance use disorders, it’s a massive step in your life. 

Initially, in those first few days, weeks and months, you’re still in your early stage of recovery. When you’re in early recovery, there are a lot of challenges you’ll face.

It’s a difficult time because it’s new for you, and in many ways, you’re relearning how to live without the influence of drugs or alcohol. That may be something you haven’t done for a very long time.

You hear people tell you to take it one day at a time in early recovery. From there, you build on your sobriety and cultivate a healthy lifestyle in your recovery journey. 

  • Early recovery and sobriety are full of firsts. 
  • You’re learning the skills that will allow you to navigate your life without substances.
  • You’re building coping skills and perhaps rebuilding healthy relationships
  • You might be working on other goals for your life, like a career, and you’re trying to make a sober life for yourself.

Once you’ve achieved long-term sobriety, you’re much more comfortable navigating the world around you. When you’re at a point of long-term sobriety, you feel confident in your ability to avoid drugs or alcohol, even if things go wrong. You understand that some things are out of your control in life, but you can deal with them head-on when you need to.

  • While everyone is unique, typically, it’s early recovery when you’ve been sober for less than a year. 
  • Sustained recovery is one to five years, and long-term recovery is often achieved at the five-year mark.
  • When you’re maintaining long-term sobriety, you’re more likely to have stable housing and things in your life that you value and that is rewarding to you.
  • Being in later stages of recovery doesn’t mean you don’t still have to work on it, but you’ve likely built a lot of skills and a sense of resilience you use in your everyday life.
  • You may have a structured routine and emphasize healthy living in all ways.

What is the Role of Spirituality in Long-Term Sobriety?

The concept of spirituality and its connection to sobriety is one that many people focus on. Addiction recovery support groups and 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) integrate spirituality. You begin or end meetings with the serenity prayer, in which you turn over what you can’t control to God.

We tend to associate spirituality with religion, and it certainly can be, but you can also explore non-denominational spiritual teachings during your life in sobriety. 

Spirituality, since it’s inherently so personal, leaves it up to you to decide how it will have a role in your life and how you’ll connect to a higher power. Religion tends to be a more structured, defined way to define your sense of spirituality. Religion is also about communication and connection through shared traditions.

Regardless of your path to spirituality, it helps in maintaining sobriety because it allows you to focus on your mental health and overall mindset in your daily life.

The Benefits of Spirituality in Addiction Recovery

Some of the many benefits that spirituality can have if you’re in recovery include:

  • When you’re healing from addiction, it’s not just about the physical. You have to heal mentally and emotionally. It’s difficult to accept responsibility for your actions when you are in active addiction. When you’re connected to your sense of spirituality, it can be healing for you to allow you to forgive yourself.
  • The early phase of recovery is probably one of the more challenging things you’ll go through in your life, if not the most difficult. You will feel like there are hurdles that could derail you, but spirituality gives you a sense of strength even during adversity.
  • You can tie your sense of spirituality with mindfulness and meditation, which are significant coping mechanisms. With mindfulness and meditation, you can learn how to bring yourself back to the present and better navigate challenges. Taking quiet time for meditation and spiritual reflection can help you feel renewed and empowered.
  • Spirituality reinforces concepts of gratitude. Gratitude is a meaningful way to pull yourself back on track if you feel that you could be close to slipping in your sobriety. Gratitude is one of the most important things people in recovery learn. 
  • After you receive treatment for addiction, you may feel like your life is purposeless or directionless, which is very common. Spirituality gives you purpose because it takes your focus to something that’s beyond just you.
  • You may form new connections and relationships with other people through the practices surrounding your spirituality.
  • Spirituality gives you a sense of hope. There’s often a sense of hopelessness in addiction and the early days of recovery. You can gain a positive perspective with spirituality.
  • Recovery is about both the body and the mind. One can’t be healthy if the other isn’t, so a spiritual practice is holistic and helps you continue to remember the mind-body connection.

Creating a Spiritual Practice in Your Life

You might feel like connecting to your spirituality is a big undertaking, but you can do what works for you since it’s such a personal experience. The most important thing is finding ways to be spiritual that you can incorporate into your everyday life and feel good about.

  • As mentioned above, meditation is excellent for spirituality and maintaining long-term sobriety. 
  • Research shows that regular meditation and mindfulness can rewire your brain. 
  • These effects may help your brain recover from the effects of drug or alcohol abuse more quickly. 
  • Meditation is also excellent for managing other mental health issues, symptoms, and recovery from addiction. 
  • Keeping a gratitude journal is another good way to be more spiritual. Just keep a list of things that each day you feel grateful for. This helps you stay connected to your “why” in your recovery and enables you to be more compassionate to yourself and others.

If you’d like to take a step toward emotional and physical wellness as well as long-term sobriety, call 844-268-8412, and the Covenant Hills Treatment team will answer any questions you might have about treatment plans and recovery from substance use.