Maybe there’s even something to AA’s “higher power” after all…

It’s hard for me to argue with data and evidence.  If I think something, but can’t support it, then I don’t discuss it much.  At least I try not to; I admit that my unfounded opinions can make their escape through my piehole.  Especially when it comes to spirituality: There’s really no way to prove the idea that humanity is comprised of a combination of physical, mental (which encompasses psycho-emotional aspects of human life), and spiritual components.  I do think most people agree with me, though, that humanity does contain a spiritual aspect, even if there’s no one singular expression of spirituality that works for everyone.

Over the last few years, however, I’ve had a heck of a time with the idea of spirituality in Addiction treatment.  I’ve come across several people who not only have no interest in even discussing spirituality, but who also just completely shut down at the mere suggestion that spiritual expression can aid recovery.  Now, I don’t go around pushing any religion or religious belief on anybody.  But anecdotally, I have found that those in recovery who do subscribe to some form of spirituality do in fact sustain recovery better than those who doubt or outright deny the spiritual nature of humanity.

But a recent study (download: relapse and spirituality) provides ample evidence that spirituality does in fact aid in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.  According to the study, those who belong to a faith community were more inclined to conform to social norms than those who didn’t.  Also, this study suggested that the reasons for this may have genetic origins.  That is, some people are genetically inclined to attach to a religious organization than others.  Again, there’s always a “chicken v egg” argument in looking at genetics because social programming has a lot to do with gene expression.  That being said, I find it increasingly interesting that there may be, in fact, evidence that humanity is genetically programmed to attach to spirituality.

I can’t tell anyone what his or her spiritual expression should be.  But I can safely say that humanity has a basic need to find a way to express a spiritual relationship.  I can’t stand being told that this religion is “right” and other religions are “wrong.”  However, I think if someone finds a religious path that allows him or her to express their own spiritual identity, then I support that path (judgementalism nothwithstandin).   Especially in recovery: If someone belongs to a church, then I mine that relationship for healthy ways to cope with life’s stresses.

Therefore, thanks to a building body of evidence, I can say that humanity is a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual components.  Maybe there’s even something to AA’s “higher power” after all…