Spirits and Spirituality
Through the ages, many people have described the effect of alcohol as a spiritual experience, of an awakening to a higher power. Interestingly, alcohol plays an important role in spiritual and religious ceremonies all over the world, from the ancient Egyptians to modern Christianity. It has been said that alcohol as well as other drugs show people different worlds, spiritual beings and ghosts.
One interesting fact about alcohol is that the word alcohol comes from the Arabic word for spirit which is al-kuhl (الكحول ). In Middle Eastern folklore, the al-kuhl is a body eating spirit or ghoul which is an interesting correlation to the way the effect of alcohol has been described. The term spirit, which refers to distilled alcohol, comes from this connection. It is then no surprise that alcohol and spirituality have a close connection.
Spirituality refers to the beliefs and practices by which people live. These beliefs are varied and may include the presence of a divine being, a higher power or other spiritual beings. Spirituality plays an important role in guiding people and bringing inner peace, self awareness and a purpose in life. Some spiritual beliefs has specified practices such as meditation, prayer or yoga; it can also prescribe foods and drinks to be consumed, the importance of a pilgrimage or other specific events.
Religion and Spirituality
Identifying with a specific church or religious organization does not necessarily mean that a person is spiritual. To be spirituality aware means that a person has a sense of connectedness, belief in the divine or higher meaning and a clear understanding of the meaning of life. Many people who identify with a particular religion may not have a sense of spirituality. They may not necessarily follow the rules or guidelines that the religion specifies. When a person has a sense of spirituality, they can be less selfish, experience inner peace and become more altruistic. A person with this sense of spirituality often does not need to use alcohol or other drugs to feel in control of their lives, or even to feel in general.
Alcohol and Spirituality
Many people who are struggling with alcohol dependency and abuse often report they feel lost or have no purpose. They often describe needing to drink to feel something, to be closer to people or to ignore their own feelings. This is very similar to the way some people describe how they feel when they have lost their connection with their spirituality. The major symptoms associated with a loss of spirituality can be feeling lost, confusion, empty or even out of control.
When a person is in touch with spirituality, they often do not feel the same desire to drink alcohol or use drugs. Spirituality arms people with the ability to recognize that they will make mistakes but will be forgiven. It also helps people to become more focused in their life and what they wish to do in the future.
Spirituality Aids Alcohol Treatment
Research has found that spirituality plays an important role in helping a person on the road to recovery from alcoholism. Some treatments already include spirituality in the therapy process, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Spirituality helps people to develop a sense of purpose in the recovery process. This sense of purpose can influence the choices a person makes, the responsibilities they take on, and the determination to succeed in treating their problem with alcohol.
Treating alcoholism can be a long and difficult process that can have many setbacks and obstacles to overcome. Having a belief or faith in something can help focus a person to their new life that includes not just the individual but friends, families and the greater community. This identification is important to guiding a person back to a life without substances that is healthy and happy.
One important, though not necessarily required, aspect of alcohol treatment is what William James in his famous work called a religious experience, and what Alcoholics Anonymous calls a spiritual experience. A spiritual experience can be described as an event or moment where a feeling of a purpose, a defined moment of clarity, or even of seeing angels, ghosts or spiritual beings occurs. It is believed that this experience changes a persons direction in life and has been linked to individuals giving up a life of abusing alcohol or drugs. Some individuals use this experience to find a new sober path in their life.