Addiction: Our Call To A Deep Spiritual Practice

I’m Tom, a grateful recovering addict. I have identified
myself in this way in meetings and conventions for over
40 years. My intention is to put a new interpretation
on the insidious disease of addiction. We all know the
nightmares that accompany addiction. I invite you to
move beyond the traditional ways addiction is looked
upon, revealing the seemingly hopeless disease of addiction
as an enlightening dilemma. I hope to introduce
you to the revolutionary belief that for some individuals
a life fraught with sickening addiction can quite
possibly become a misunderstood gift and a blessing
in disguise.

Currently there are countless studies and books written
on the field of addiction and the vast and growing
research on what is now termed “addictionology”.
Though it is a fascinating area of contemporary and
compassion-based health care, it is also encompassed
within the realm of clinical rehabilitation centers, some
of which are rife with discouraging statistics and sterile
data. I speak from my heart and own experience. I was
once a hopeless addict whose life has been interrupted
by a Higher Power. My life was transformed by surrendering
to the principles of The Twelve Steps, which has
led to a life that is devoted to the practice of meditation
and service to others.

Addiction touches everyone. When an individual, his or
her family member, or a close friend struggles with the
malady, it eventually affects the lives of every member
of society. In every country around the world, people
have found a way out of their addiction. On a daily basis
there are millions of people attending twelve-step
meetings in almost every country on this planet. Be assured
you are not alone.

The idea that the disease of addiction can only be
treated by a spiritual transformation has been the motivating
idea from the beginning. In the early 1930s, a
hopeless alcoholic sought help from Carl Jung, a well
known psychiatrist. The patient had resigned himself to
the tormented reality that he suffered from the chronic
inability to stop drinking. In those days, such people often
ended up in jail or a mental institution and many
lost everything that had ever been dear to them, including
family, friends and careers, and ultimately life
itself. Addiction was viewed as a lapse in morality and
had not yet been recognized as a medical disease.

This man came to Dr. Jung and asked for help. The
psychiatrist frankly told him that although he was unable
to help him, he had—on a few rare occasions—
seen someone in the grips of alcoholism go through
a profound personality change brought on by an intense
spiritual experience. This visit to Dr. Jung set the
foundation for other drunks to stay sober by helping
each other and in turn practicing the spiritually-driven
Twelve Steps of recovery. The steps were designed to
achieve the ongoing spiritual experiences that brought
on the deep personality changes in our lives. One could
argue that the steps were “given” to addicts by a higher
spiritual realm, and Jung was as much a conduit as a
cornerstone for the recovery movement. In his later
years, Jung would be asked if he believed in God. Without
hesitation Jung answered, “I know there is a God.”
Yet the experience of working and living the steps can
be as varied as those seeking recovery, and belief in a
theistic god or God Itself is not a requirement. Spiritual
principles work for the agnostic as well as atheist. The
process simply asks us to believe in something, some
Higher Power that we will be willing to let guide us on
this journey of healing.

I would not dismiss anyone’s pain caused by the disease
of addiction. If you are a family member or a close
friend, let the experience be a calling card for your own
spiritual practice. The programs of Alanon and Naranon
can be your refuge, a sanctuary where you find understanding.
You may suddenly realize you’re not alone
in this pain. This can be the beginning of a great adventure
within, bringing into your awareness that addiction
is just one of many countless challenges we are
called upon to face in life.

Kahil Gibran put it so eloquently in his book, “The
Prophet”. “Your Children are not your children. They are
the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They
come through you but not from you, and though they
are with you yet they belong not to you.”

Gibran was speaking the language of Alanon and Naranon
long before their inception. We must learn to detach
and to love unconditionally. Once we start practicing
spiritual principles we learn we can’t manipulate life
to fit the conditions we believe will ensure our happiness.
Instead we tend to each moment without judgment
or criticism; acceptance of what is becomes our
offering.

The Twelve Step programs have been proclaimed as
one of the most powerful spiritual movements of the
Twentieth Century. These programs provide support
and guidance to offer hope where all hope was lost.
May loving kindness fill your hearts.

The Mindful Addict is available @Amazon