The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions

The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions

The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions

The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions

Synopsis

Millions of alcoholics and addicts recover through spirituality. In The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions, author and journalist Christopher D. Ringwald tells how and why they seek and achieve these transformations. Ranging as far back as the Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society in 1840, Ringwald illuminates the use of spirituality within a wide range of treatment options--from the famous Twelve Step-style programs to those tailored to the needs of addicted women, Native Americans, or homeless teens not ready to quit. Focusing on the results rather than the validity of beliefs espoused by these programs, he demonstrates how addicts recover through practices such as self-examination, meditation, prayer and reliance on a self-defined higher power. But the most compelling evidence of spirituality's importance comes from those directly involved in the process. Ringwald traveled across the country to visit dozens of programs and interview hundreds of addicts, alcoholics, counselors, family members, doctors and scientists. Many share moving stories of suffering, survival, and redemption. A homeless man, a surgeon, a college student, a working mother-each describes the descent into addiction and how spirituality offered a practical, personal means to recovery. Ringwald also examines the controversies surrounding faith-based treatment and the recovery movement, from the conflict between science and spirituality, to skepticism about the "new age" brand of spirituality these programs encourage, to constitutional issues over court-mandated participation in allegedly religious treatment programs. Combining in-depth research with powerful personal accounts, this fascinating exploration of spirituality will provide a fuller understanding of the nature of addiction and how people overcome it.

Excerpt

The book reports on the role of spirituality in treating addictions. Many people who recover from an addiction to drugs or alcohol do so by developing a spiritual life. When I first learned of this, I was fascinated by the idea that spiritual beliefs and habits could have an immediate and daily function, that faith would make a concrete difference, that belief could save and improve an alcoholic's life. As a newspaper reporter, I wrote a series of articles about drug and alcohol treatment in New York State. The investigation concentrated on the costs and the results of care. It found that most programs, and the state, had little idea of their results with patients. The series led to a state Senate investigation and a new law requiring programs to track their outcomes.

During my reporting, administrators and officials spoke to me of methods and modalities and biopsychosocial models of care. The alcoholics and addicts themselves preferred to talk about why and how they were getting clean. Most mentioned spirituality or God. That, I decided, was the real action in the treatment and recovery of people addicted to drugs.

This book's premise, based on the evidence and dozens of personal accounts, is that many addicts recover by spiritual means. If their faith in God or some “high power” makes the difference, so be it. I am concerned with the results, not the validity, of such beliefs. Others are better equipped to debate the existence of a deity. Many people once dependent on drugs also recover with a spirituality devoid of a deity. My subject is how and why addicts develop spiritually, and the implications . . .

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