Spirituality and Alcoholism | Addiction
Video: Spirituality and Addiction
A Higher Power
Many clients rebel at the very idea of a Higher Power. They must be gently encouraged to open the door just a little and to seek. They must be encouraged to be honest, open-minded, and willing. They need power. They are powerless. They need someone else to manage. Their lives are unmanageable.
At first, you encourage clients to see that some sort of a Higher Power can exist. The clients must look at their interpersonal group and see that the group has more power than they do. You can say something like this to a client: “If you wanted to leave this room, and the group wanted to keep you in, do you think you could leave?” The matter becomes obvious. The group could force the client to stay inside of the room. It might take some wrestling, but the group has more physical power than the client does. The client could then be asked if he or she is willing to place his or her trust in the Higher Power of the group.
Trust is a difficult issue for most addicts, and they will need to process their lack of trust with the group. This is a good issue for group work. If clients cannot trust the group as a whole, can they trust anyone in the group? If they cannot trust anyone, can they trust themselves? Are they willing to try to trust—to be open to the possibility? If they are unable to trust themselves and are unable to trust anyone else, then they are lost. They will have to start somewhere. This reality will have to be driven home. The clients cannot really trust themselves. That should be obvious. There were times when they were out of control, they were powerless, and their lives were unmanageable.
The best way of having clients learn to trust the group is to develop a caring group. The members are actively interested and involved in each other’s growth in this group. They gently help each other to search for the truth. The group members are kind, encouraging, and supportive. The group members never are hostile and aggressive. They do not put each other down. That is counterproductive. If you have an aggressive and highly confrontive group, then you destroy trust. People must learn to confront each other in an atmosphere of love and unconditional positive regard. It is your job to teach the group this process.
Once clients trust the group, they can begin to transfer this trust to the 12-step group. The clients should attend as many meetings as possible while in treatment. Gradually, the clients will feel safe and will begin to share. This builds trust. As the group, members are interested in a client, and as they show love to the client, the client’s confidence in the group grows. This probably is the first time in the client’s life when he or she has told someone the absolute truth. When the group does not abandon the client, it is a tremendous relief. This will show on the client’s face and will be etched into his or her heart.
Clients see people further along in the program doing better. These people look better and sound better. The clients cannot miss the power of the group process. It changes people right in front of their eyes. They will see new members come in frightened or hostile, and they will watch them turn around. They will watch the power of group support. Soon they will be offering new client’s encouragement. They will learn how helpful it is to share their experiences, strengths, and hope.
Once clients see how insane they were acting and accept that the group has the power to restore them to sanity, they have come a long way toward embracing Step Two. By trusting the group, the clients open the door to a Higher Power. This basic building block of trust is vital to good treatment. Clients can miss seeing a Higher Power in others. These clients, on discharge, might feel that a Higher Power is the only answer they need. They might think that they do not have to go to meetings so long as they have a good spiritual program. These clients will not work a program of recovery, and they ultimately will relapse. All clients must be encouraged to trust the group process. They need other people to flag for them what they do not see in themselves.
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