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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spirituality: Most Important Element of Staying Sober

Spirituality holds teen recovery together and may be the most important element of staying sober. People who seek treatment for drug and alcohol abuse have a higher chance of long term sobriety with spiritual tools, compared to those that do not, according to a new study.

The new study, conducted by researchers at Baylor University and Case Western Reserve University, included 195 juvenile offenders. Their data showed that fewer young people today are active in religious organizations, they tend to lack purpose and belonging. In place of that, teenagers have easy access to drugs to fill the void.

A number of young people who seek treatment for substance abuse have had little, if any, formal spiritual connection in the past, i.e. religious instruction, belief, and community. Despite addiction professionals being divided about incorporating the 12-step model into treatment plans, research has shown that 12-step spirituality element has proven effective amongst teenagers and young adults who seek help.

“There are two key elements of the 12-step program AA uses: helping others and God-consciousness. Those who help people during treatment—taking time to talk to another addict who is struggling, volunteering, cleaning up, setting up for meetings, or other service projects - are, according to our research, statistically more likely to stay sober and out of jail in the six months after discharge, a high-risk period in which 70 percent relapse,” according to the researchers.

Teens without any spiritual background can benefit, just as much as those that have, from a program that encourages developing a spiritual connection. Spiritual maintenance is associated with increased abstinence and social behavior. Those who are “spiritually fit” have a greater first line of defense against relapse.

The new findings will be published in May in Alcohol Treatment Quarterly.

Wall Street Journal
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