Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Estil Wallace

Recovery Advocate
& Cornerstone Founder

Last Update on June 5, 2023

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If you’ve looked into Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other 12-Step programs, you will likely notice God’s recurring role throughout its messaging. The “God word” can scare many people away from recovery fellowships, especially from 12-Step programs, which it features most prominently. 

It’s important to realize that “God” means different things to different people. For the most part, AA and other 12-Step programs are entirely unaffiliated with any particular sect or brand of religion. Instead, the word “God” refers to a spiritual power greater than our human capabilities.

Searching for help with drug and/or alcohol addiction? Call us now at (888) 201-4610.

The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality

Religion, as we know it today, means living by a set of specific rules or principles that stem from the belief in a particular form of God. It often includes membership in a greater community that follows those same rules. Religion can mean organizational structure and hierarchy, incentives for certain behaviors, penalties for others, and prioritizing communal values over individual values.

Spirituality, on the other hand, doesn’t revolve around the doctrine of a particular institution or follow organized rules. It’s more of an individual approach to connecting to whatever forces in the world you feel are larger than yourself. It’s possible to not believe in God and be a highly spiritual person. 

What Place Does Spirituality Have in Recovery?

Religion, on its own, has nothing to do with recovery. Your ability to overcome addiction and the struggles that come with it do not depend on whether you follow a particular set of rules or adhere to the tenets of a certain faith. Recovery is a personal journey; ultimately, your trajectory of heart, body, and mind will lead you to succeed. 

In contrast, spirituality is one of the fundamental pieces of every recovery journey. It may go by many different names and descriptions, but ultimately, to make the internal changes that lead to the strength of conviction you need, some form of spiritual experience must take place.

Recovery Doesn’t Stop at Putting the Bottle Down

The recovery process takes more than committing to stop drinking or using drugs. You didn’t develop your addiction in a vacuum; it grew because of aspects of your life and mental state that fostered destructive habits.

Putting the plug in your drinking or drug use may stop the symptoms of your issue, but it doesn’t address the cause, and without resolving the tensions in your life and mind, your destructive urges may find other, equally detrimental outlets.

Overcoming your addiction, then, means changing your life. It means taking a hard, unflinching look at who you are and how you spend your time on Earth. This is the spiritual change that must occur for your recovery to have a solid foundation in your core. 

This is the “psychic change” referenced in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It involves surrendering control to the realization that your willpower alone is not enough to overcome addiction and that you’re willing to place your trust in the hands of your fellow people–family, friends, and treatment professionals.

It means stepping away from the lifestyles, mental habits, and social circles you’ve used to inform who you are up until now and opening yourself up to the possibilities that come with releasing your ego and starting anew.

Ask Yourself the Real Questions

Regardless of your pre-existing relationship with God and religion, your path to recovery will be unlike anything you’ve done before. It’s worth considering this opportunity to connect to spirituality in a new way.

Think about what you value and believe and which principles you would like to live by. Talk with one or more people you trust or look up to in these matters and form some concrete ideas about the standards you want to set for yourself going forward. How do you want to treat people?

What sort of friend, family member, romantic partner, and neighbor do you want to be? Who do you want to spend your time with? What do you want to get out of your life? What do you want to give back to the world?

Making these changes won’t just help you get sober and stay sober–they’ll help act as a moral framework that affects all aspects of your life.

You are rebuilding who you are and what sort of future you’ll have, so don’t pull any punches–your decisions now will have tremendous ramifications for the version of you that you want to be.

What to do if You’re Ready for a Spiritual Change

Recovery is a large undertaking that requires deep soul-searching and exploring how you may connect to a higher power or purpose.

At Cornerstone Healing Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, we offer a mind-body-spirit approach that tackles the roots of addiction on all fronts.

Recovery means addressing the sources of your addiction, including trauma, depression, or destructive life circumstances.

We believe that hope and healing are available to anyone whose life has been devastated by alcoholism or addiction.

We understand that true change is a lifelong process that begins with putting trust in the power of something greater than yourself to help you through.

Treatment at Cornerstone includes evidence-based practices, therapy, yoga, social support structure, sponsorship, and mentoring.

We work with you to create an individualized approach that will keep you strong and on the path toward living the life you want to live. Get sober, stay sober. Call (800) 643-2108 to learn more.

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Author & Reviewers

Estil has 12 years of experience in recovery, and serves as Executive Director, Board Member and President for He has also worked directly with alcoholics and drug addicts in Maricopa County jails. He has over 14 years of sales, management, networking and digital marketing experience. Estil believes anyone willing to change can heal.
lionel estrada lisac clinical director
Lionel, a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC) with over 4 years at Cornerstone. Passionate about helping those with addiction, he has trained as an EMDR therapist  adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues of addiction, providing an empathetic approach to addiction.

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