Spiritual awakening in recovery when one suffers from an addiction is essentially a change in one’s ability that enables them to overcome the addiction. But more than just being a change, it is an experience that involves a spiritual connection to something greater than oneself that shifts the person into a newer version of themselves. Namely, a person who can stay sober after suffering severe addiction.
A spiritual awakening in recovery of alcoholism is claimed when an alcoholic has had a length of sobriety from their addiction to alcohol by having taken the steps to achieve recovery as outlined in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps emphasize the need for surrender, inventory of self, amends to others, and some personal form of prayer and meditation, similar to most spiritual traditions and their practices.
Spiritual awakening in recovery is a result of the action. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are set on course with a complete plan of action delineated in the Twelve Steps and are called to the need for a Higher Power to guide them through to a full spiritual awakening. Termed by one of AA’s members, this course involves that one “admit that alcohol has you beaten, clean up your own life, admit your faults and do whatever it takes to change them, maintain a relationship with whatever or whoever outside of yourself can help keep you sober, and work with other alcoholics.”
The Twelve Steps
The 12th Step, the final step, of AA uses the phrase “spiritual awakening” for recovery which alludes to the point where one is able to attain sobriety and maintain a sense of hope. Steps Three and Eleven refer to God or a “Higher Power” to surrender to by following a path of action steps, which is the key that provides the psychological strength to overcome their addiction.
While AA is professedly non-religious, it is a program that is based on spirituality. The appeal to this Higher Power is the first step, even when and if one has lost faith through the trials of their addiction. AA’s use of the terminology around God and prayer has brought upon it some opposition, but has still worked for many others to arrive at a spiritual awakening in recovery, and has in modern days come to include people of all faiths or no faith at all.
Ongoing sobriety can bring the alcoholic or the addict to feel and act in a way that assures them they can do what they were previously unable to do. This takes a spiritual awakening and can cause one, which is the essential shift in one’s life that has brought on this new revelation.
How to Start Your Spiritual Awakening
This process on how to start your spiritual awakening in recovery starts with acknowledging you may need to change your perspective and behaviors to overcome your addiction and to cease in your previous sense of powerlessness to stop it on your own. Namely, surrender. The Big Book of AA describes this necessity in recovery: “You may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.” (p.44 AA, 4th Edition)
A spiritual awakening cannot necessarily happen right when you think it will, and you certainly cannot force it to happen. Make an intention to commit to a course of action and do not try to do it alone, whether it be AA or some other proven method of your choosing. Allow others to be a part of your plan for recovery. Many say their faith and appeal to a Higher Power is what works in mysterious ways to bring about the miracle you desperately need, and it works alongside your own efforts. Start with anything that supports your education and mental health along with the agreement within yourself to stay on the path even when you fail at some point. Like the achievement of any worthwhile goal, commitment to action and consistency is always rewarded.
What is a Spiritual Awakening in Recovery?
There are three ways the Big Book describes what a spiritual awakening is. It explains:
- “The personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.”
- “A profound alteration in his reaction to life.”
- “Members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves.”
(pg. 567-568, AA, 4th Edition)
So, don’t worry if you are a person of faith or not, as AA offers, “We found that God does not make too hard the terms with those who seek Him.”
Qualities of a Spiritual Awakening in Recovery
Feelings of restoration, delight, and the absence of fear that once held the addicted person back take place within them when the psyche of the addict has felt to achieve what they were previously unable to do, something that even felt impossible for them to do. Letting go of helplessness, victimhood, and self-seeking to more of a focus on empowerment and fellowship with service to others who are still struggling is the natural outpouring of this new set of changes within.
The cessation of conflict with others, the lessening of fears and insecurity, and even loss of interest in the addiction and lack of temptation have been made possible by careful and consistent efforts with the steps in spiritual recovery. Starting your spiritual awakening requires learning and the assimilation of learned tools and lessons that help the mind and spirit let go of anger, judgment, and condemnation of self and others. As a result of this action and examination, even if needed countless times over, it is not impossible to achieve this goal in recovery. Many other changes to the addict’s life occur as a positive result of this practice in a recovery program.
A new definition of sanity and normalcy is born in the addicted person after having experienced the life of being sober. One member of AA described the recovery awakening as a “personal change sufficient to bring about recovery from my addiction.”