By: Megan Souther, Alumna
When working in treatment, I’ve seen and heard it all. “Drugs made me feel better at first, and then I felt empty.” “I got sober for a little while, and then the depression came back.” If drugs and alcohol were my only problem, then I would be fixed once I went detox and got it all out of my system. The problem lies in the spirit, mind and body. A spiritual malady is a “disease or ailment.” Regarding alcoholism, it means that feelings have become unmanageable. The unmanageability has nothing to do with the consequences that have occurred due to addiction. As an addict or an alcoholic, I use drugs or drink to change the way I feel. Examples of the spiritual malady are loneliness, depression, irritability, restlessness, discontentment, anxiety, etc.
Addiction is a spiritual problem that no drug or drink can fix. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states on pg. 64 that “Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.” The causes and conditions are those unbearable feelings and those lies we tell ourselves that we think make it okay to get high or drunk. Addicts and alcoholics are unable to see the truth from the false. As an addict, I may think, “it will be different this time,” or “this time I won’t go to jail.” But, addicts and alcoholics use drugs and alcohol to fill a void that only a Higher Power can fix. This spiritual malady demands to be treated. I might treat it with substances, food, sex, gambling, etc., or I treat it with a Higher Power.
There are only two alternatives. One is to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best as we can. The other alternative is to accept spiritual help (pg.25 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous). Most addicts and alcoholics search for that third option, but they will not find it. Once the problem is clear, then the solution is attainable. But it requires action.
An internal problem can be treated with the 12-steps and by building a relationship with and connecting to a Higher Power. The 12-steps are one way that I can work towards my own recovery. Burning Tree is a 12-step program where the clients work the steps and focus on learning to cope with their feelings by building a relationship with a Higher Power. Throughout the Big Book there are promises of how to overcome the spiritual malady. By working the steps, these promises come true. An example is the 9th step promises: “We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear” (pg.85 and 86 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous). The promises of the 9th step occur when I as an addict make amends for my behavior. But the promises are all throughout the book and occur long before this step. Getting connected to a Higher Power is possible and can create a life of joy and peace. At Burning Tree Ranch, our goal is helping our clients achieve lifelong sobriety and to live happy, useful lives.