Are You Religious in Recovery?

Categories: Counseling

Are You Religious in Recovery?

The question “Are you religious?” puts a lot of people off.  Those religious people are so judgmental, they have so many rules, they are so hypocritical.  Here’s why you need to reconsider being religious in recovery.

Devout Recovery

One of the main methods for producing a strong recovery is to develop a set of consistent practices.  These practices become religious, devout, and cherished.  I am not talking about religion or denominations but a set of daily, weekly, or monthly practices that produce a strong recovery over the long haul.  These practices become the fabric of daily life, a religious commitment that works toward recovery.
There is a commercial out right now that invites you to consider how eating broccoli 1 time could change your health, or doing 1 push up could change your health.  It doesn’t.  One time magic pills are the realm of fairy tales.  There is no 1 time pill, potion, or practice that will transform you.  It takes becoming a disciplined person.  Detox may be the beginning but it will take more than detox to recover.  What will it take?

The Religious Person in Recovery

 Do you know someone who is religious, even devout?  What is it about their daily, weekly, or monthly practices that lead you to that conclusion?  It’s probably that they make different choices, they stop inflicting injuries upon themselves, and they know a set of basic recovery activities that are non-negotiable.
The religious person doesn’t sacrifice what they want for what they want right now.  They fight through short term desires for their long term recovery.  This behavior produces a strong recovery.
The religious person learns about their strengths and weaknesses and how to handle them.  They know what is going to come back around and hurt them, so they stop throwing the boomerang.  They put an end to self inflicted wounds.
The religious person knows the basics produce most of the results.  They know that by consistently doing the most fundamental activities they can expect 80% of the results.  They don’t waste time chasing small gains with complicated solutions that risk recovery.
I had a dog once who loved to hide bones in the backyard.  When he had a bone nothing stopped him from hiding it.  Nothing.  If you forced him into the house he would find a hiding place for the bone.  On a later date, he would return to the hidden treasure.  This dog also liked to chase squirrels.  So in his search for hidden treasure he could easily be distracted by a nearby squirrel.  Once he was on the trail of a squirrel he stayed after it.  He never caught a squirrel; and on those days he never got his bone.
Early recovery is filled with people who can take it or leave it.  This level of motivation and commitment predicts a large percentage of relapse.  People in recovery can’t afford to miss a day. However, learning to be very consistent takes time, energy, and commitment.  Here’s my short list of recovery basics.  Get consistent and devote yourself to the basics and you can expect a strong recovery.

Be humble

Humility isn’t easily cultivated.  We tend toward selfishness in a world that is reinforcing selfishness as a virtue.  Bring your self low, get down off that pedestal.  Do this by whatever means works.  Gratitude lists are popular for list makers, but if you aren’t one of them you might try, serving others instead of being served, saying thank you, or just recognizing what you do not control.

Work hard

Hard work ain’t what it used to be.  When it comes to recovery working hard means putting yourself through challenges that are likely to make you focused, disciplined, and strong.  Read about your problems and learn how others have solved them.  Seek counseling to push through a plateau or barrier.  Join a group where you can be challenged/encouraged over a long period of time.


View learning as one of the best things you can do for your recovery. Make a list of things you want to learn, discover, or experience.  Then start working on them.


At some point we all attend the school of Hard Knox.  We feel so defeated by it that we rarely grow from the lessons.  It is better to transfer.  Put yourself on a program that will teach you better communication skills, problems solving strategies, how to have healthy relationships, and handle money.  These fundamentals impact every area of life.  They will become key components to escaping the chaos and drama of addiction and early recovery.


Being humble, working hard, learning, and growing are hard to accomplish.  When you have made some gains don’t give them up.  Put some security measures in place to protect what is yours.  Don’t let it be stolen from you.  Develop a relationship with a mentor who can lead well, protect you, and sound a warning when a storm is approaching.
Being religious in recovery takes daily, weekly, or monthly devotion.  Putting your recovery together can be a strange experience. Twelve step programs, church attendance, crossfit memberships, yoga, pharmaceuticals, mindfulness, and wilderness experiences may supply many parts you need, but fitting it all together could be an ugly nightmare.  Adopting practices from many places can leave you with a frankenstein monster that can’t give you the life you want.  You’re trying to build a recovery you can live with and one you will fight to hold on to.  Be sure that the practices are compatible with your situation and aspirations.  This can improve commitment and motivation.  Devote yourself to the fundamentals.  What you practice you become.  Choose your religious practices so you can work them into your daily life.  In time, you may find character that you never knew you had.
Leadershop Ministries is a Christian Counseling and Coaching organization.  If you need help developing a strong recovery or getting through your first year of recovery we can help.  Contact Dr. Todd Davis at 865.384.4864 for a free phone assessment.  Follow us on Facebook for Leadershop Challenges and links to helpful content.
Author: Todd Davis, PhD, MFT, LADC

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