Spirituality in Alcoholism Recovery: A model of progression

The spiritual progression of 14 members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was studied using a transtheoretical approach, with object relations theory as a primary framework.

The subjects were aged 35-45, had a minimum of one year of continuous sobriety, and professed belief in the efficacy of the Twelve Steps.

The subjects participated in multiple-subject interviews and completed a questionnaire.

A six-stage model of spiritual progression was developed. It is noted that within AA, spiritual progression in recovery is based on application of AA’s Twelve Suggested Steps of Recovery.

  • stage one marks the beginning of recovery,
  • stages two and three address relationships with God;
  • stage four relates to subjects’ relationships with themselves;
  • stage five relates to subjects relationships with others;
  • stage six relates to maintenance of spirituality through application of the Twelve Steps.

Three case studies representing successful, moderately successful, and unsuccessful spiritual integration illustrate the experiences of alcoholics in working through AA’s Twelve Suggested Steps of Recovery.

The results of the study indicated that spiritual integration comprising a sound triadic relationship with God, self, and others is not easily attained.

Of the 14 AA members included in the study,

  • 9 have achieved spiritual integration;
  • 3 have achieved moderately successful spiritual integration, and
  • 2 have been unsuccessful.
Research report; McGregot, J.G. Spirituality in recovery: A model of progression. Dissertation Abstracts International, 63(2):509A, 2002.