Published in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, an Oregon State University study examined the effect of both religion and spirituality on a teen and a teen’s mental health. Both religion and spirituality play a different role in helping teens regulate themselves. Religion seemed to help teens regulate their behaviors while spirituality helped teens regulate their emotions. For example, teens who had religious practices in their life like regularly attending religious services or interacting with peers of the same faith resulted in teens smoking and drinking less than non-religiously affiliated peers. Teens who utilized practices which are spiritual in nature, like mindfulness and meditation, as well as prayer, were better adept at managing their emotions. Additionally, teens regularly practicing their spirituality had lower blood pressure than peers who did not. Teens with active spirituality in their lives better handled difficult situations and difficult emotions.
Religion versus Spirituality
Many people see religious practices as being spiritual and many others are devoted to their spirituality in a way that they might call religious. Still, there is a marked difference between religion and spirituality. Spirituality does not have to have a specific denomination or faith associated with it. People can be spiritual just by having certain beliefs about the world. Religion, on the other hand, follows specific texts and doctrines, with special practices and devotion.
Bringing Spirituality into a Teen’s Life
Teens who go to treatment for drug and alcohol addiction will be introduced to 12-step philosophy, based on the original 12-step program created by the founding members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Called a ‘spiritual program’ the 12 steps are designed to help the person taking them have a ‘spiritual experience’. In the second appendice of “The Big Book”, the authors explain that the spiritual experience they speak of in the book are a matter of transformation. The authors explain that having a spiritual awakening means that a “personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms.” 12-step programs help teens discover a higher power, build a relationship with their higher power, and live along spiritual guidelines throughout their recovery. Many see 12-step programs as a moral compass of faith. Spirituality and the pursuit of faith, in any form, guides a teenager toward living a better, more honest life. Starting with practices like meditation, mindfulness, and prayer, your teenager can develop a rich spiritual life as well as a deep connection to faith which enriches their sobriety.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center offers long term residential treatment programs for addiction recovery. Our programs involve the whole family for foundation building, life cleansing change.
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