Addiction Treatment for Atheists
Most treatment facilities for addiction are based on the 12-steps that originated in Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12-steps mentions and uses God throughout the steps. So what does that mean for someone who doesn’t believe in a God? Many people just tell them to exchange the noun God with “a higher power.” For some atheist this still poses a problem because they mostly focus on science and things that have been or can be proved with science. While treatment centers may use programs such as 12-steps does not mean that atheists cannot receive successful treatment. Many treatment centers will offer alternative support groups and support systems. One alternative support group is SMART Recovery. Self management for Addiction Recovery Training (SMART) is a self-empowering addiction recovery support group. Patients learn tools based on scientific research and become a part of a world-wide community. It is a four point program for all types of addiction. They facilitate online meetings and face-to-face meetings around the world. They also have a 24/7 chat room and an online message board to learn about SMART and participate in support. SMART is for people who want to stay sober. It teaches tools and techniques for self-directed change,, teaches self-empowerment and self-reliance, evolves as scientific knowledge of addiction recovery evolves, encourages individuals to recover and live satisfying lives, uses meetings as educational times and include open discussion, and advocate the appropriate use of prescribed medications and psychological treatments. SMART teaches four major points. First, building and maintaining motivation. Second, coping with urges. Third, managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Finally, living a balanced life. For each point there are specific tools and techniques taught that are based on scientific knowledge. Patients are to learn how to use each tool and practice them throughout the four points, with the goal being to achieve a lifestyle of balance and leading a fulfilling and healthy life. SMART iis recognized by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Center for Health Care Evaluation, and the US Department of Health and Human Services as a resource for substance abuse and addiction recovery. This offers a more scientific and self-empowering option for people who may not want to be a part of a God-centered support group. Another thing that some treatment centers use to help addicts is a holistic approach. There has been numerous studies showing the effectiveness of treating the whole person and not just the addiction. By concentrating on the mind, body, and spirit all aspects improve. While someone who considers themselves an atheist may not care so much for the spiritual part of this dynamic, it is still important. The spiritual aspect can be focused on and improved through mindfulness and meditation, neither of which are based on an actual God or religion. Mindfulness is a state of mind found by focusing on the current moment and calmly accepting and acknowledging the thoughts and feelings without the “right” or “wrong” mentality. It is a therapeutic technique that we all possess but practicing meditation helps you to achieve this state of mind more often and more easily. It is a way to be fully present without being overwhelmed by what is going on. Mindfulness helps you to connect to yourself and your surroundings, it can help with pain, lower stress, focus your mind leading to less wandering thoughts, and strengthen neural connections which can lead to more creative thoughts. It can also be practiced alone, with like minded people, and anytime. Meditation can help you to take a break from the hecticness and stress for everyday life and also during treatment. Learning how to handle things without out your substance can be hard and during treatment you learn a lot about your addiction and yourself. Taking the time to relax and focus your mind. Meditation can help you understand more things about yourself`and find an inner peace that will help you overcome your addiction. Meditation can help you focus on things with a more positive outlook and allow you to find happiness even during difficult times. Meditating helps you find balance instead of swinging between extremes. Practicing meditation can lead to less discomfort and feel more appreciative. Meditation allows you the chance to dig deeper into your thoughts and feelings and understand what caused them and the effect they have. Meditation can be for just a couple minutes or for longer and it can be a once a day thing or something less often. Using mindfulness and meditation can help you get through treatment and maintain your sobriety by acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and surroundings. Mindfulness and meditation isn’t about always being happy. It is about being aware of your surroundings and how they affect you. Recognizing that a certain situation or environment causes you an urge to use your substance can help you understand why and either avoid it or un-associate the feeling and the behavior. It allows you the patience to look at things more deeply and with a better understanding. By acknowledging what makes you upset, causes anxiety and/or depression, and angry you can confront it instead of allowing those feelings to overwhelm you. Dealing with the emotion in a healthy manner. The goal is not to change who you are but just be aware of yourself and surroundings on a moment by moment basis to be in the ever state of present. Instead of fretting over the past or worrying about the future you are able to enjoy the moment of now. Enjoy the way fresh hot food tastes, the way a hot shower relaxes you, the way the melody of a song calms you. In short practicing mindfulness and meditation helps you enjoy lifes simple pleasures.