Stories of spiritual awakening. The nature of spirituality in recovery

J Subst Abuse Treat. 1998 Jul-Aug;15(4):325-31. doi: 10.1016/s0740-5472(97)00211-0.


Substance abuse has had a devastating impact on the lives of millions. As substance use and abuse continues to ravage communities, researchers remain in the dark about what works to ensure successful recovery from addiction. In searching for the answers, researchers have often overlooked the role of religious and spiritual practices and beliefs in preventing use and relapse. The study reported here describes the process of spiritual awakenings experienced by some persons in recovery during their quest for sobriety. The data suggests that persons in recovery often undergo life altering transformations as a result of embracing a power higher than one's self, that is, a Higher Power. The result is often an intense spiritual journey that leads to sustained abstinence. Given how widespread substance abuse is, research on the nature, implications, and limitations of a spiritual approach to addiction might offer new options for treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Healing*
  • New York City
  • Religion*
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers* / methods
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*