4 Ways to Bridge Spirituality and Recovery

Savvy Families in a Drug Saturated Culture

There is a saying within the recovery community that religion is for folks who don’t want to go to hell and that spirituality is for folks who’ve been there.

This past weekend, Faith Lutheran Church in Bellaire, TX, a suburb of Houston, hosted a day-long event that explored connections between, not religion and recovery, but spirituality and recovery.

The gathered group of church members, addicts and recovery workers agreed that religion provides dogma and interpretations of a belief system.  People in recovery may or may not actively participate in churches or religious bodies; it’s not even essential to their recovery.

However, according to Pastor Kerry Nelson, a case can be made that spirituality is absolutely necessary for recovery because “spirituality is about relationships, it’s about connectedness.”

There is an online article written by a member of the recovery community called “Spirituality is a Simple Way of Living,” that reads, “It seems there are four basic movements that recovering people need to make to put their lives on a positive spiritual basis. The first of these is a movement from fear to trust; the second, from self-pity to gratitude; the third, from resentment to acceptance; and the fourth, from dishonesty to honesty.”

Don’t you think that most people–in recovery or not–could use that advice?  I know I can but it seems like a lot of work.

A Simple Bridge

I think there’s a more simple path across a solid bridge between spirituality and recovery.  Pastor Kerry defines the bridge as moving between the beliefs of an addict or alcoholic initially entering recovery (which tend to be negative) and the healthy beliefs of that same person when he or she embraces the power of relationships.

Relationships–with yourselves, families, classmates, colleagues, communities and with a personal higher power–are the building blocks of spirituality.  The strength of your recovery is based on the lessons grown within each relationship block.  The more grounded you are within any relationship, the more firmly the blocks cement your spirituality with your recovery.

Here are Pastor Kerry’s four belief shifts that bridge recovery and spirituality:


He describes the addict as initially believing sentences like, I am bad.  I am worthless.  I am stupid.  I am fat.  I am short.  I am ugly.

The bridge is I am a good person with the disease of addiction.  I am worthy.  I am smart.  I am a beautiful person.


Initial belief:  If people know who I really am, they will reject me and I’ll be all alone.

Bridge belief:  When people get to know me, they will like me for who I am and I’ll never be alone.


Initial belief:  My needs will never be met if I have to depend on others, so I’ll never depend on others and just take care of myself.

Bridge belief:  I have many needs that other people can help me with when I allow myself to depend on them.


Initial belief:  The most important thing in my life is my next drink or drug.

Bridge belief:  I will work on my recovery one day at a time because my recovery is the most important thing in my life.

When you think about it, tools used for bridging between spirituality and recovery  can also be used to step from any unhealthy behavior toward the higher part of yourself.  Knowing yourself–having faith and believing in yourself–does create a bridge between who you no longer want to be and the person you’re striving to become.

How are you bridging old beliefs with new ones?  Let us know in the comments section below.

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