Friday, April 20, 2007


This excerpt is from an article about the role of in recovery. It has some interesting stuff about how scientists doing research on spirituality had to quantify a definition, which is a pretty neat idea in itself...but I thought this excerpt from the end is pretty interesting:

So what does all this mean for the addictions counselor? These studies confirm that spirituality can be a catalyst of recovery initiation, a protective shield in early recovery and an increasingly significant dimension of long-term recovery maintenance. As such, spirituality is a valid area to explore in the assessment and service planning processes. Clients’ understandings of spirituality exhibit significant shifts in how spirituality is defined and utilized over the course of recovery. Addiction counselors would be well advised to support each client’s unique, stage-dependent interpretation of spirituality (with or without belief in a higher power) and to approach spirituality within the larger framework of life meaning and purpose.

The role of spirituality in recovery initiation requires that we remain open to the power of sudden, transformative change. Many clients talk about a “turning point” in their lives in spiritual terms. Such experiences often occur in the context of near death experiences (from overdoses, suicide attempts, violent victimization), HIV/AIDS, addiction-related deaths of close friends and incarcerations. Addiction counselors can play an important role in enhancing the enduring influence of such experiences.

The evolving role of spirituality in long-term recovery dramatically underscores that recovery is much more than the removal of alcohol and other drugs from an otherwise unchanged life. Early recovery is marked by the stressors of disengaging from alcohol and other drugs and cleaning up the debris of one’s addiction. The successful resolution of these tasks is often followed by existential panic: “I’m sober. Now what do I do?” (Chapman, 1991; White, 1996). Moving through this crisis involves a transformational journey marked by major changes in character, values, identity, interpersonal relationships and lifestyle. Spirituality is a potential sense-making framework through which these transitions can be planned and retrospectively understood via story reconstruction. Addiction counselors can play an important role as a guide in this process and help each client construct a recovery-enhancing narrative of his or her life.

The idea of constructing a recovery-enhancing narrative I think is pretty interesting, and I'm going to start making a narrative with my man, maybe. He won't go to counseling and he's stopped going to meetings, but he's said he'll go to church. I think he would like to tell himself a story of how church saved him, and how he gave his life over to god and let god cure his problems...we're going to church Sunday...

Oh, am I doing that thing where I get too involved?

I also thought that the idea of making a narrative to help your life is powerful, or at least it's been powerful in my own therapy in the past. My favorite therapist ever, the one I had in law school, kept encouraging me to think of my life and the choices I was making in the most positive terms, and stick with that story. One way I always get myself depressed is by negotiating through all the possible interpretations of my life, and sticking with the uglier, darker ones. There is no reason to do this---as each story that is running simultaneously is true in its own way. To be happy, and healthy, it's important to make a story of your life that you can live with, and that's what she helped me do at the time. If I can remember that tool in my life, I think it's easier to live...

1 comment:

tammy vitale said...

The stories we tell ourselves can dig our graves or save us. Knowing what stories we tell ourselves is important - some of them so ingrained we don't even question them.

Ever read Women Who Run with the Wolves? All about stories. Amazing book.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my son's addiction. Before him, there was his father. I ended that when son was 2 and I had been with father for 17 of my 34 years. Lot of stories on that one.

He looks just like his father. Sometimes this feels like a repeat performance. I don't know that it ever gets easier. But I have gotten better at understanding and knowing how to deal with it.