• Jason Brumback

Recovery Without God: Is It Possible?


Some people assume that recovery and religion go hand-in-hand, that without a concept of God, there is no feasible path towards healing. Others believe in the opposite approach. They perceive addiction as a strict chemical disease- to them, religion, faith, and prayer are neither necessary nor appropriate for making sustainable change.


But what's the real truth? Does spirituality play a fundamental part in your growth? Or Is it possible to have a meaningful recovery without God? Let's get into what you should know.


Defining Recovery: What Is and What It Isn't

The concept of recovery isn't inherently straightforward. Some people use the abstinence model to define recovery. No drinking, no drugs, no mood-altering substances whatsoever. In many ways, this concept is the simplest concept, as it's completely black-and-white. You're either sober, or you're not.


Others have a more fluid definition. Recovery can mean anything from abstinence to medication-assisted treatment to harm reduction to distinguishing the nuanced differences between a lapse and a full-blown relapse.


It's essential to remember that even medical experts disagree on the best strategy for maintaining recovery. Instead, most people agree that individuals need to find what works for them. This trial-and-error process can be frustrating, but having the willingness to find what works tends to open pathways for viable change.


Where Does Spirituality Play a Role?

Walk into any 12-Step meeting, and you will meet many people who talk candidly about their higher powers. They may even suggest that, without their higher power, their recovery would not be possible.


For many people, spirituality guides their recovery. They pray for relief. They surrender to their higher power. They find peace and community in spiritual groups or places of worship. In other words, spirituality solidifies their principles- it creates a solid foundation for how they think and behave in the world.


Some of these people had preexisting concepts of spirituality even before their addiction gripped them. They may rediscover these concepts once beginning their recovery journeys. Others develop their definitions of spirituality as they go.


Is Recovery Without God An Option?

It can be dangerous and limiting to assume that one method for recovery trumps another. Misconceptions can perpetuate a stigma, which can unnecessarily complicate someone's recovery efforts.


All individuals are unique, which means that recovery is a nuanced process. It looks different for everyone. Subsequently, many people enjoy meaningful recoveries without any concept of spirituality or God.


Embracing a higher power, therefore, is entirely your decision. You may find yourself interested in exploring the option, but you might also realize that what you're doing is working well enough. There is room for both answers- and answers that lie in between.


Keep in mind that you don't owe an explanation for your recovery. As long as you're truthful, genuine, and forthcoming with your efforts, it doesn't matter what you do (or don't) believe in. Likewise, your beliefs may evolve. That is a normal part of growth, and you should embrace the changes as they arise.


Additionally, spirituality is a broad concept that doesn't necessarily mean believing in formal religion. Some people align themselves spiritually by practicing meditation, engaging in a regular yoga practice, attending non-denominational services, or spending time in nature.


What About Support For Atheists or Agnostics?

There are many options available to people who identify with atheism or agnosticism. For example, you may benefit from attending a secular group. Below are some options to consider.


SMART Recovery: SMART Recovery is a well-known cognitive-behavioral based group that focuses on coping with cravings and managing destructive thoughts. This group focuses on self-empowerment without requiring a spiritual connection.


Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS): SOS is a nonprofit group that advocates taking personal responsibility for sobriety. SOS hosts meetings around the world with the belief that you are the most prominent proponent in your recovery.


AA Agnostics: Although many people assume that AA requires believing in God, many cities hold meetings for people who desire an alternative path towards recovery.


Individual therapy: In your own therapy, you are allowed to express your beliefs and think freely and creatively. Your therapist will not judge or tell you how to feel, behave, or think. Instead, they will work collaboratively with you to help you understand yourself and your experiences.


Group therapy: Support groups and process groups tend to be non-denominational and welcome to all spiritual backgrounds. The focus of these groups isn't usually on strengthening a connection with God; instead, it's about building healthy relationships with oneself and with other group members.


Final Thoughts

Many professionals focusing on addiction treatment require that their clients adhere to a specific recovery model. At The Resurface Group, we embrace individual growth. We don't force a single idea onto anyone. Instead, we want to help you to find the path that works best with your strengths.


Our approach is unique, and it's highly effective. We're here to support you and your loved ones. Contact us today to learn more.


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