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On the last track, we discussed the middle stage of family recovery from addiction and the three major characteristics of this time. These are, the family develops a new vision, more family stability, and moving from borrowed values to integrated values.
Do you have a client who uses spirituality as part of his or her recovery?
On this track, we will discuss the four spiritual principles that I find most important in middle recovery. These spiritual principles are, accountability, humility, gratitude, and discipline.
As you are well aware, middle recovery is a time of fast-paced growth for the addicted family. Remember Jenny from the last track? As her family moved through the regenerative period of middle recovery, I found there to be four important spiritual principles that helped guide Jenny’s progress.
Principle # 1 - Accountability
Middle recovery for Jenny’s family involved a similar process of taking inventory of their own behaviors, feelings, and thoughts, going to support groups, and keeping promises to each other. I stated, “taking the time for this introspection is not selfish. Committing to understanding yourself will help you be more accountable to everyone in the family, including yourself.” Do you experience, as I do, clients that have a hard time believing that this new accountability will actually give them more freedom than they had before?
Principle # 2 - Humility
As you know, humility means realizing that each individual can control very little, and recognizing that he or she is neither incredibly wonderful nor horrendously bad. One metaphor I used with Jenny is that humility is getting to a concert early to get a good place by the stage, rather than complaining that you are not the lead singer.
Principle # 3 - Gratitude
Jenny’s mother stated, “I always used to love Fall, but with everything I barely noticed it passing. Last week, for the first time in years, I sat out on the porch and just watched the leaves falling. The sky was so blue, and I was so happy just to sit there and appreciate it”. I explained to her that this gratitude is healing; it reminds us that we are good just as we are.
Clearly, gratitude also works against the drive for ‘more’, and helps us concentrate on what is. Dan had contracted AIDS as a result of his heroin addiction, and had been sent to treatment four times before he came to my office. Dan stated, “For the past couple of years, I’ve finally been taking recovery seriously, and I’m living a good life. I have my friends and my family with me, and I’m happy for every minute with them. Even though I’m going to die, it’s my choice to die with dignity or without it. And I can do it.”
Dan died a year after this conversation, sober and with dignity, with his friends and family surrounding him. He was truly grateful for every moment he had with the people he loved.
Principle # 4 - Discipline
In one of our later session, Dan stated, “I found I had to really stay strong, find new habits and routines for my life. I found that evenings were my worst time, so I made myself sit down every day at 5 pm and read a meditation from one of the books my family had given me. It really helped! I started reading meditations every time I felt an impulse to use as well, and it would give me those few extra minutes I needed to get my head back on straight. It worked for my family too. We made it a rule to get together every Sunday night for a home-cooked meal and movie night.”
As you can see, by using discipline, Dan was not only better able to control his impulses to use heroin, but his family was able to make a strong commitment to healing. I find that by using this spiritual discipline, family members increase their ethical, authentic power, which gradually decreases the need for the false or pseudo power of the family member’s coping mechanisms.
On this track, we have discussed the four spiritual principles that I find most important in middle recovery. These are, accountability, humility, gratitude, and discipline.
On the next track, we will discuss the Amends Process for helping recovering addicts reconnect with their families.
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