Religious beliefs tend to have a powerful effect in the lives of most individuals, some for the positive and some for the negative. While religious beliefs can help many individuals through difficult times, they can actually hinder others from making it through some of the very same things. Much of this has to do with the role that religion played in person’s upbringing or the role it has come to play in their lives in adulthood. Religious beliefs can also have a powerful effect on 12-step recovery. In some cases, recovery is actually dependent on overcoming certain beliefs, while in other cases it is dependent on being able to embrace certain beliefs. Here are some ways that religious beliefs do and do not effect 12-step recovery.
Denominational beliefs do not matter as much as guilt and shame do
Many times addiction is a way of dealing with a massive amount of shame and guilt. Sometimes this guilt and shame has a legitimate cause, sometimes it does not. In either case, individuals often do not feel they have the tools to actually overcome these feelings of guilt and shame, so they begin using a variety of substances to simply numb themselves to these feelings instead. In some cases, a religious upbringing can actually be the source of this guilt and shame. In other cases, when an individual embraces religious beliefs that encourage love, grace, forgiveness and acceptance, their religious beliefs can actually help facilitate their recovery.
An individual’s particular religion generally does not matter as much as what they have been taught about that religion. All religions, denominations and sects have “good” and “bad” teachers of their belief systems. In many cases, it is not the religion itself that is the problem, but rather who has communicated the beliefs of that religion to an individual. Every religion has extremists that teach very unbalanced views of almost every type of religion. Most religions also have moderates who teach a much more balanced and gracious ideal. Whether religion is helpful or detrimental to recovery is often far more dependent on the viewpoints taught to an individual about their religion rather than particular religion they practice.
Recovery is not in any way dependent on religion
The 12-Steps are not in any way dependent on an individual holding or embracing a religious viewpoint in any way. Atheists and agnostics can benefit just as much from 12-step recovery as those that practice a certain religion.
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