Experiencing a Higher Power

arched bridge over a river in a wooded area

Experiencing a Higher Power

Most people battling addiction also struggle with the concept of a Higher Power. Being asked to place your faith in something unseen seems like a defeating task. Spiritual connection and relationship with an intangible Higher Power is possible, but the addict must be willing to explore options. One of the benefits of attending a drug rehab is that the addict can have time away from substance abuse to begin a spiritual journey.

Do You Have a Higher Power?
Do You Have a Higher Power?

What Does a Relationship with a Higher Power Look Like?

A connection with a Higher Power complements an addiction treatment program. A Higher Power should encompass three qualities: Unconditional love, unconditional acceptance and respect. It is difficult for addicts, who are so damaged, to believe that someone can have that unconditional acceptance for them. A Higher Power should not be punishing, but allow natural consequences for behaviors to happen to the addict.

Relationship Barriers to a Higher Power

The discussion of spirituality raises defenses for most addicts who have had either poor or no experiences with belief in a Higher Power. Some people grew up in extremely religious settings where they learned to avoid anything reminiscent of those experiences. Others have had terrible childhood experiences that left them to question God and the existence of a God who would allow bad things to happen. These situations with spiritual disconnects are usually characterized by anger, control and avoidance.

  • Anger
    Anger is rooted in fear. Fear about the unknown, fear of being disrespected or fear of being unloved. For example, when someone cuts you off in traffic you may have an angry reaction. This is normal. However, the response to the anger is the important piece. Holding onto anger prevents the addict from being able to experience the peace that a Higher Power offers.
  • Control
    Addicts believe that they are in control and that by engaging with a Higher Power they will have to relinquish control. The type of control that the addicts have is a false sense of control, especially when using substances. Controlling individuals are difficult to help because part of their belief system is that they need no help. In this sense, there is no need for a power greater than themselves.
  • Avoidance
    Addicts who practice the defense mechanism of avoidance are stuffing emotions and avoiding feeling them. A Higher Power can tap into the emotional realm. If the addict is avoiding emotions, he or she will not be aware when a spiritual connection occurs through emotion.

Experiencing a Higher Power

Gaining spirituality and connecting to a Higher Power is not always easy, even if you had a spiritual connection before drug addiction. Drug addiction distances addicts from experiencing pure forms of spirituality. Anger, control and avoidance need to be challenged and confronted as part of the addict’s spiritual journey. The addict does not need to resolve these issues to experience a Higher Power. However, he or she does need to acknowledge a possible presence. A Higher Power will often use these barriers as a way to reveal the spiritual connection.

A spiritual connection can happen inwardly and outwardly.

  • Inward Connection
    After an addict is able to get in touch with accurate emotions that are not drug-induced, he or she has the opportunity to have a spiritual connection through feeling. This internal connection happens when least expected and is sometimes described as an overwhelming peace in the midst of chaotic circumstances.
  • Outward Connection
    A Higher Power may use events that are out of the addict’s control to sometimes reveal that there is a spiritual entity at work. For example, the funding runs out while the person is in addiction treatment. Someone anonymously donates the exact amount of money needed for the addict to complete treatment. This is out of the addict’s control and the addict benefits from it.

After the addict is able to be more self-aware about feelings and acknowledge events that are definitely spiritually influenced, he or she can understand how someone has faith in something that is unseen.

This spiritual connectivity takes time and can be fostered through different activities.

Activities That Help Foster a Higher Power Experience

Much research has been done on the importance of spirituality in addiction treatment. Regardless of the choice of a Higher Power, prayer helps the addict continue to grow a spiritual connection needed to make permanent character changes. Meditation is also helpful for fostering a spiritual connection.

If the addict continues to struggle with internal connections, he or she may have to look at the outside events that are taking place to see the influence of a Higher Power. These events may be through others who are having a positive influence on the addict’s recovery. Acknowledging another entity at work outside of your immediate control is one form of building a spiritual connection outwardly first. Some addicts will find this type of connection through attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous support groups.

Stopping substance abuse is helpful for connection or reconnection with a Higher Power. Active addiction interferes with spirituality and attempts to prevent the addict from seeking a Higher Power for support.