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Section 14
Spiritual Principles in Late Recovery: Balance and Harmony

Question 14 | Test | Table of Contents | Addictions CEU Courses

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On the last track, we discussed the Amends process for helping recovering addicts reconnect with their families.

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 most helpful in the late stage of family recovery from addiction. These four spiritual principles are harmony, balance, service, and community.

As you have experienced, as the family enters late recovery, trust and comfort begin to be experienced more regularly. I have observed that family members at this stage also begin to accept that hard work and struggles build intimacy, and begin to rediscover a sense of purpose.

My client, Esperanza, stated "I’ve been sober ten years now, and sometimes friends ask me why I keep going to so many AA meetings. I tell them, it’s because of my husband Donnie. I know everything about him, what all his little facial expressions mean. We’ve been together more than twenty years now, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. I almost lost him because of my drinking, and our relationship almost didn’t last. But as I got sober, cleared my head, I rediscovered all of these wonderful things we have. It was hard work, and it still sometimes, but I’ll do whatever it takes to keep it this way."

4 Spiritual Principles for Late Stage Recovery

Principle # 1 - Harmony
I have identified four major spiritual principles of late recovery. The first of these principles is harmony. I explain to my spiritually based clients that harmony involves developing both a sense of order and a respect for that order. Clearly, sobriety is a kind of psychological order, especially after the chaos addiction can cause.

I also tell my clients entering recovery that being in harmony in the family can mean recognizing limits, and being able to communicate in a difficult situation in a calm manner. As you know, it can be important to explain to clients that living in external and internal harmony does not mean that everyone agrees all of the time.

Principle # 2 - Balance
The second spiritual principle I have identified in late recovery is balance. I find that this principle builds on the principle of humility in middle recovery. I explain to my clients that balance can mean each person is making decisions based on what is best for the relationship.

My client Joyce told me, "I used to fight with Mark about child care, even after he stopped drinking. But now we’ve managed to come up with something that helps us both. I switched my work schedule so that I can always stay home with the kids when he has a meeting. Then Mark saves me time by doing our shopping on his way home from the meetings, so that I don’t have to worry about it." As you can see, Joyce and Mark have developed the ability to see how important they both are in creating a healthy and loving family.

Principle # 3 - Service
In addition to harmony and balance, the third spiritual principle in late recovery I have identified is service.  I tell my clients that service for others means, essentially, seeing a task that needs doing and doing it. Mark stated, "when I was drinking, and the trash can was full, I’d yell at Joyce, like it was all her job to keep up the house. I told myself, I worked full time, I deserved a clean house. Now, I see a full trash can, I take the trash out. After all, we’re partners. We help each other. Now, just the fact that I’m helping makes me feel good."  Do you agree that finding pride in service to others is a significant marker of late recovery?

Principle # 4 - Community
My fourth spiritual principle of late recovery is community. As you may have experienced, families in late recovery are rebuilding a sense of freedom and confidence, and shame begins to lift. While many families in recovery restrict themselves to small recovery communities, families in late recovery main regain the ability to step out into the larger community.

Joyce stated, "for a couple of years I didn’t do anything with anyone outside of my support group. But Mark and I have started reconnecting with our old friends, hosting dinners. And now, every Christmas, we do one of those programs where we buy gifts for a child in need. It makes us feel like we’re both doing something important together." Have you found that community service can make recovering families feel empowered and strong?

Even in late recovery, I found it important to remind Mark and Joyce that recovery from addiction is a process, and a journey, not an event or a destination. As you have experienced, it takes commitment and hard work over a long period of time to heal deep wounds and rebuild a healthy family.

Technique: Reaching Out
For families who have reached a similar stage in late recovery to Mark and Joyce, I often recommend Reaching Out. I encourage these families to choose a service activity slightly out of their comfort zone to participate in as a family; one that will not be threatening or imposing, but one that will encourage growth and reentering the community. For some families, I recommend starting with participating in a food or clothing drive, for others volunteering in a soup kitchen may be more appropriate.

I have often seen that participating in a service project as a family can help strengthen relationships, and build pride in the family. Mark stated, "doing the toy program really reminds me not only of my own good qualities, but of how good Joyce and I are together. I mean, we’re really helping.

"And in some way, I feel like I’m repaying everyone in the community for the awful things I did when I was drunk. I love being able to give back! When I look in the mirror, I am proud of myself, and when I look at Joyce, I know she’s proud of me, and us, too."  Are you treating a family like Joyce and Mark who would benefit from reaching out?

On this track, we have discussed the four spiritual principles most helpful in the late stage of family recovery from addiction. These four spiritual principles are harmony, balance, service, and community.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Elliott, J. C., Carey, K. B., & Scott-Sheldon, L. A. J. (2011). Development of a decisional balance scale for young adult marijuana use. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 25(1), 90–100.

Lee, M. T., Pagano, M. E., Johnson, B. R., Post, S. G., Leibowitz, G. S., & Dudash, M. (2017). From defiance to reliance: Spiritual virtue as a pathway towards desistence, humility, and recovery among juvenile offenders. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 4(3), 161–175.

Zhou, Q., King, K. M., & Chassin, L. (2006). The roles of familial alcoholism and adolescent family harmony in young adults' substance dependence disorders: Mediated and moderated relations. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115(2), 320–331.

What are the four spiritual principles of late recovery? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

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