The Role of Connectedness in Relation to Spirituality and Religion in a Twelve-Step Model

Gary Greene, Tuyen D. Nguyen


The pervasive nature of substance abuse in the United States dictates that much of the research dollars and time is spent on clinical trials that measure anxiety reduction, medication management and the employing of behavioral models that stress gradual change. While these approaches use controls that can be studied and measured in the empirical sense, they often lack the important personal connections with the research participants. As these trials show less than hoped for efficacy, a new body of research is surfacing including spirituality, along with social supports as ways to aid recovery and reduce relapse. Many 12-step groups incorporate spirituality, as opposed to religion as a mainstay of an individual’s recovery effort. Spirituality is regularly mentioned across most twelve-step programs as an essential part of sustained and ongoing recovery. Practical definitions of spirituality have eluded researchers in part because they struggle to separate it from religion. While it may not be impossible to measure spirituality in an empirical sense, it may be possible to clarify what role spirituality plays in aiding sustained recovery and prevention of relapse into drug using behavior. We will suggest connectedness as an integral component in defining spirituality and demonstrate that in twelve-step recovery spirituality can be defined as gaining knowledge through connectedness to others.

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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