Spirituality Is Not One-Size-Fits-All

The prospect of going to a residential treatment programme for drug and alcohol addiction includes considering the role of twelve step programmes, like Alcoholics Anonymous. Criticized for being “religious” but truly spiritual in nature, these programs challenge an individual to find a belief, faith, or philosophy which works for them. Concerned that they will be indoctrinated, brain washed, or converted, many stray from the spiritual nature of 12 step meetings and from treatment altogether. Such black and white thinking is common among addicts and alcoholics. However, society in general tends to think in oppositional extremes when it comes to spirituality. In order to believe in Catholic principles, for example, you must believe in all Catholic principles. Spirituality transcends the human definitions of religion, a higher power, belief, and everything else. Spirituality is not finding one solid religion or belief and becoming all consumed by it. Not everything about every religion or spiritual belief will work for everyone. That is why, in the context of the 12 steps, any mention of “God” is followed by a critically important statement: as we understood Him. These words came from the personal experience of the founder of the 12 steps, Bill Wilson. He talks about in “Bill’s Story”, a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Bill had fallen into active alcoholism again. Desperately searching for a drink in his kitchen, he was visited by a friend, an old drinking buddy, who had found religion and God. Despite learning much from his friend, Bill was still concerned about God and religion. He writes, “The word God still aroused a certain antipathy. When the thought was expressed that there might be a God personal to me, this feeling was intensified. I didn’t like the idea.” Bill then describes the various ways he felt comfortable thinking about a higher power and admits in talking with others, he discovered he wasn’t the only one. After another conversation with his friend, everything changed for Bill. “My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, ‘Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?'” Bill writes “That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.”


Castle Craig offers pastoral support with an onsite chapel and spiritual healing to help each client grow along a spiritual path. Restoring our patients to optimum health of mind, body, and spirit, has served over 10,000 in their quest for sobriety over 25 years. Renewing a sense of purpose and encouraging new meaning in life, our patients find health, happiness, and peace. For information, call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 231 5861. From outside the UK please call: +44 808 271 7500.

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