Your Higher Power Is A Bridge, Not A Barrier To Recovery –

3 min

Little girl crossing bridge

Trusting in God is a barrier for a lot of people who are new to recovery. At the same time, trusting in a “Higher Power” is a roadblock for many people of faith. Struggling with problems is part of the human condition, but addiction is a super-human problem. And super-human problems require a super-human solution.  Here’s how trusting in a Higher Power is a bridge to your recovery, not a barrier.

Julie’s Childhood God Was A Barrier To Recovery

Julie was raised in a strict, religious home. As a kid, she wasn’t allowed to play cards, eat in restaurants that served beer, attend school dances, wear pants, or certainly never entertain the ideas of drinking, smoking, or having sex before marriage. In her family, God was the muscle behind her parents’ strict rules. God was a larger than life, powerful, judge, poised to cast her in a pit of fire for one tiny slip.

Not surprisingly, Julie rebelled against such a strict upbringing. By the time she was 23, Julie was living on the street, addicted to cocaine, and trading sex for drugs. She also played cards.

When Julie entered rehab, she embraced the center’s 12-step teachings with one exception. How could she ever come clean to God or her parents?

The truth is, everything Julie knew about that God wasn’t the truth. Julie’s God was nothing more than an extension of her parents iron-fist control. Ironically, it was the same control that pushed Julie into rebellion.

Earl’s Lack Of God Restricted Recovery

Earl doesn’t believe anything about the Bible, or God, or any other religious notion. According to Earl, nothing in the Bible is scientifically sound and religion is nothing more than a lie used to control people. Julie would probably agree.

As a teen, Earl’s parents enforced zero rules. They thought the best way for him to learn was to try everything. They stood back and let him make his own choices. During much of his early twenties, Earl went to find himself by back-packing from western China into the mountains of Russia. One cold, dreary morning, Earl fell while hiking and broke his back. Four months and six surgeries later, Earl found himself addicted to pain pills.

Like Julie, Earl found a 12 Step recovery program, but he refused to believe in any type of God. He quickly found himself hopeless and isolated without any help to get past his triggers and racing thoughts.

The Need For A Bigger Solution

Addiction kills, steals, and destroys. It ruthlessly affects everyone in the entire family for generations. Parents are forever wounded by a child’s addiction. Likewise, children who’s parents are addicted often grow up to be adult children who lack the communication and relational skills necessary to peacefully navigate the world they live in.

When we first either become aware of the addiction or are finally willing to admit it, we’re utterly broken. Many of us have tried literally everything to get out of the mess we’re in. In fact, we’ve

Step One says:

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, substances, or other compulsive behaviors. Our lives had become unmanageable.”

Step Two says:

“We came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

We’ve tried every possible solution known to man. We need the help of a Higher Power, a power greater than ourselves.

Each Person Makes Their Own Choice

Our Higher Power can be God, or Jesus, or Buddha. Al-anon literature often refers to “the God of our understanding.” For some, their recovery group is their Higher Power. Others look to forces like nature. The important point here is to recognize the freedom. A Higher Power is extremely personal and no one can choose one for you.

Many who struggle with addiction have been deeply hurt. They need love and acceptance to rebuild self-esteem and character. Turning to a forced Supreme Being doesn’t usually aid in recovery. In early recovery, the idea of trusting a Higher Power isn’t intended to define one’s position in the afterlife. It simply opens us up to receive help.

Many others are also deeply enmeshed with their family or spouses. Choosing to trust their own individual Higher Power may be the first independent choice they make.

The Miracle Of Recovery

Recovery gives us a chance to save, rebuild, and restore our lives. Many times, our recovered lives are more peaceful and enjoyable than even our pre-addiction lives. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

If you are a person of faith, recovery is a miracle. It’s chance to begin an authentic relationship with a loving God as YOU understand Him or Her. You don’t have to be alone and struggle on your own. You’re no longer expected to be perfect, judged by your failings, shame, guilt, and fear. You can find grace, acceptance, guidance and forgiveness.

If you aren’t a person of faith, recovery is a miracle. Watching others enjoy sobriety and rebuild their lives is incredibly powerful. Creating a network of people who are wiser than one individual and have more sobriety can be life-saving and changing. You don’t have to be alone and struggle on your own. You too can find guidance, acceptance, forgiveness, grace, and serenity.


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Pam Carver

Pam is the author of two books: Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and Find Your True Colors In 12 Steps. She's also a contributing editor for Reach Out Recovery. She's a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.

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