Saturday December 20th 2014

Addiction recovery and spiritual awakening: The roots of recovery

Addiction recovery and spiritual awakening: The roots of recovery

If you’re seeking tips for addiction recovery, you’ve come to the right place. More here on finding hope after drug addiction (or alcohol addiction or behavioral compulsion…).  Then, we invite your questions about your own spiritual awakening at the end.

Nurturing the roots of recovery

Nature fascinates me. It fascinates me because it is a great metaphor for recovery. All I must do is walk out into the woods which surround my home to be reminded of God, the pace of life and living in the moment.

I admire the hundreds of old-growth oak trees which surround my home. Along with these majestic old trees, I have lodge pole pines, ash, and maple trees. There are also dozens of types of ferns, wildflowers and weeds. Lots and lots of weeds. One particular species is the Bull Thistle weed, which is actually a wildflower. This species is as hearty as they come – the Bull Thistle develops a thick, strong taproot within the first few weeks of its life and if left to grow naturally, grows hundreds of thin, sharp thorns all over its stem and leaves.

The taproot is the source

The taproot – on anything that grows in the ground – is the “granddaddy” root from which all other roots grow. A tree or plant of any kind cannot survive without a taproot; just as a recovering person cannot survive without a deep, strong connection to something greater than themselves.

The taproot delivers water and nutrients necessary for the tree or plants survival. Have you ever wondered why some weeds come back, month after month or year after year, even after you have pulled them from the ground or sprayed them with weed killer? The reason these weeds keep coming back is because you have not gotten to the taproot – even after all evidence of the weed has been removed from the surface, the taproot remains. It continues to thrive, grow and multiply, inches or feet below the ground.

Back to the Bull Thistle. Not only does this species have a thick, deep and strong taproot – which is immune to most weed killers, by the way – but it also grows all those thorns. Hundreds or thousands of them, depending on the plants size. These thorns are nothing but a defense mechanism of this species. The thorns protect the plant from being eaten by all the little critters in which it shares the forest so that the plant can grow, thrive and reproduce.

Where are you rooted?

What usually happens around July or August is that the Bull Thistle begins to flower. Beautiful purple and dark pink flowers atop stems covered in thorns. Ironic, huh? Does it make you think about yourself, your life, your recovery, and what you are becoming through recovery?

In the coming weeks and months, I will be talking about the kinds of taproots necessary for recovery. If you are struggling to get clean, stay clean, connect with something Greater that yourself or have simply lost the “spark” that recovery can give you, you will want to read the Addiction Blog regularly.

I leave you with this to ponder for now:

What does your taproot look like? What sustains you, gives meaning to your life and helps you to grow? How strong is your taproot? If bad times come, are you easily uprooted?

If you are having trouble with these questions, rest assured that this is perfectly normal. Answering these questions was once difficult for me as well. An easy way to begin understanding what your taproot looks like is this: For the next week, write down how you spend your time. This is an excellent way for you to begin understanding what your taproot is bringing into your life. If you really want to know what is important to you, how you spend your time is the best indicator. This method does not lie.

Until next time, don’t worry about the thorns for now. They are there to protect you as your roots become stronger through recovery.

Photo credit: Cornelia Kopp

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About Paul J. Wolanin MA, CADC

Paul J. Wolanin MA, CADC is an Addiction and Mental Health therapist, self-help author and recovery advocate. He currently works at a residential center for chemical dependency in Michigan and writes about addiction, recovery and the process of change. Paul’s book Chopping Wood and Carrying Water: One Day at a Time is a 30-day devotional which takes readers down the recovery road and through the process of change. Paul’s blog is part of the Hazelden network.