Recovery doesn’t usually change addicts’ core beliefs about God and religion, but measures of spirituality appear to increase along with sobriety, according to researchers from the University of Michigan Addiction Research Center.
Researchers assessed 10 measures of spirituality among 154 adults in an outpatient treatment program for alcohol dependence and abuse. Measures included patients’ views of God, religious practices such as prayer or church attendance, forgiveness, spiritual experiences, using religion or spirituality to cope, and existential meaning.
The study found that half of the measures of spirituality changed over the six-month study period, including daily spiritual experiences, the use of religious practices, forgiveness, positive use of religion for coping, and feeling of purpose in life.
“While people’s actual beliefs don’t seem to change during recovery, the extent they have spiritual experiences, and are open to spirituality in their lives, does change,” said lead researcher Elizabeth A.R. Robinson, Ph.D. “This effect was also independent of their participation in Alcoholics Anonymous which has a strong spiritual aspect.”
Use of alcohol also declined, with 72 percent of participants successfully avoiding heavy drinking for the six-month study period. Participants whose spirituality increased were less likely to drink heavily, researchers found.
Reference:: Robinson, E.A.R., Cranford, J.A., Webb, J.R., Brower, K.J. (2007) Six-Month Changes in Spirituality, Religiousness, and Heavy Drinking in a Treatment-Seeking Sample. J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 68(2): 282-290.
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