What Role Does Religion Play in a Health-Based Recovery?

That depends on you. A common theme throughout your transition...and you will have to adopt this theme if you are to achieve health...is that YOU must set the values that define your life. If you adopt the values of others, you will become a machine, at best. Doing what you are 'supposed to', doing what is 'expected', but deriving little meaning from what you are doing. If instead you determine your own values and commit to developing those values to the point where you actually derive meaning from them, where you actually understand how to use them in helping to manage your life...then you are set. You have laid the foundation for living a healthy life.

Such is the role that religion plays in a health-based recovery. It is a potential value for someone to hold — nothing more. Granted for some, religion will become their primary value...and it will be prioritized above all others. This can be wonderful...and it can be disastrous. Consider a situation where one has evolved warped and destructive values over the past twenty years of their life and they are instantly afforded the opportunity to exchange their damaged value system for an established, socially-accepted, socially-supported system of values. Religion has the potential to offer that to a person. Instant salvation. Immediate structure. But this is a very dangerous road to travel if you don't really believe in the values you are adopting. You may come to ingrain these external values as your own (the best case scenario). But for most, it will prove only to be a temporary distraction that will further the divide the duality of the person they present to others and the person they know themselves to be. If you value religion, you must actively evolve the values of that religion in order to derive meaning from what you are doing. Otherwise, you are reinforcing the very incongruency that you must avoid.

For others, religion will play no role whatsoever. The conscious existence of God does not play a meaningful role in an individual who values agnosticism or atheism. And in terms of recovery, this is perfectly fine. As long as you live your life in congruence with this belief. The same goes for someone still searching for answers. What matters in recovery is not what you believe, it is your ability to derive value from that belief. Or, from the search. Of course, you will still go to Hell, but that has little to do with recovery.

Yes, that was a joke.

I hope.

Now, there is much more that can be discussed of the potential benefits (and detriments) of religion in recovery, but the bottom line is this: the conscious existence of God is not required to end your addiction. I have witnessed just as many atheists build a healthy life as I have Buddhists. And I have seen just as many Christians fail in their recovery as I have agnostics. The path to health is the same for all — whether you find strength in your relationship with a higher power or not. You must construct an identity that is based on the things that you value (religion may or may not be one such value)...and you must learn to use those values in practical ways.


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