Importance of faith in recovery
A “leap of faith” is an idiomatic expression that refers to a decision or action taken with little or no evidence or assurance of a positive outcome. It involves making a significant decision or taking a risk based on belief, trust, or intuition rather than concrete evidence or logical reasoning.
It implies taking a bold step into the unknown, often involving personal or emotional investment, without guaranteeing success or certainty.
The concept of a “leap of faith” has roots in religious and philosophical contexts. Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard popularized the term as an essential element in religious belief, where individuals must leap into the unknown to embrace faith and trust in God.
However, the phrase is not limited to religious contexts and can be applied more broadly to various aspects of life, such as relationships, career decisions, pursuing dreams or addiction recovery. It represents a willingness to take risks, overcome fears, and trust in oneself or something greater, even when uncertain.
Leap of faith and addiction recovery
When people break away from addiction, they will likely see some benefits immediately. The early days of recovery can be tricky, though, and unless the individual believes that it will lead them to a better life, they may give up when things get complicated.
However, there is no real way to prove to somebody that their life will improve significantly if they remain sober. They must take a leap of faith and believe this is the case. It is this that gives them the motivation to continue.
What is faith?
Faith is often associated with religion but can be defined as confidence or trust in a person or thing. For example, trusting somebody involves putting faith in the idea that what they say is true. Another way that faith can be defined is that it is something a person believes in that does not require logical proof or material evidence. A leap of faith is when people believe in something, even though they may not have enough compelling evidence to support it.
Types of faith
There are many types of faith that people may use in their lives, including:
- The individual can have faith in their ability to achieve something.
- A person can put their faith in the ability of somebody else to help them; an example of this would be the relationship of a patient to their doctor
- People can have faith in ideas such as good actions leading to good results and bad ones leading to bad outcomes
- The individual can have faith in a higher power that is there to help them
- People have faith in their religious beliefs
- A type of faith also occurs when other people inspire the individual. An example of this would be the addict who begins to have faith in sobriety because they have witnessed other people who have achieved a good life away from addiction.
Why should you take a leap of faith in addiction recovery?
It may be vital for people who are addicted to build a successful recovery to take a leap of faith because:
There may be no amount of evidence that will convince somebody in the midst of addiction that their life will get better if they stop drinking or taking drugs. They must be willing to leap of faith and give recovery a chance.
Addicts tend to be highly cynical and suspicious of people. They must put such negativity on hold and take a chance to get beyond this.
Most people who enter recovery will have low self-esteem and may not have much confidence in their ability to improve their lives. Faith is needed until the individual can increase their self-esteem.
The newly sober person needs to trust those trying to help them. With such trust, they may be able to get the support they need to succeed in recovery.
Once the individual gains some momentum in recovery, it all becomes much easier. The initial leap of faith can give them the push they need to get the ball rolling.
Addiction and denial
One of the most evident symptoms of addiction is denial. This is a defence mechanism whereby they unconsciously reject aspects of reality because they make them feel uncomfortable. In some instances, such as a terminal illness diagnosis, this denial can be beneficial because it gives the individual time to adjust to their situation. In the case of addiction, this denial can be highly damaging because it prevents the individual from understanding the reality of their situation.
The fact that the person is in denial about their addiction means they will resist people trying to help them. Family and friends may have convincing arguments, but the addict can easily fend them off. Even if recovery specialists offer compelling evidence, the individual might dismiss this because of the extent of their denial. There may be no convincing evidence to prove to them that their lives will improve if they stop drinking or drugs. This means they may need to leap of faith to escape their denial.
Why do people become willing to take a leap of faith?
Even the addict who is a hardnosed cynic about recovery may develop the motivation to take a leap of faith. This can occur if:
- All addicts will have low points when it is easier for them to see past their denial. At such times, they may be more willing to entertain the possibility that they could be living a better life without alcohol or drugs.
- Those who have hit rock bottom have reached a point where they feel they cannot continue with their current lives. They may be willing to take a leap of faith because they want the pain to stop.
- An addiction therapist may not be able to fully convince the individual that their life will be better in recovery. Still, they can convince the client to entertain the possibility. This means the addict becomes prepared to try recovery even though they might not be fully confident.
- If the addict sees other people achieving a good life in recovery, it can inspire them to try it.
‘Fake it to make it’
It is often suggested that those in early recovery should ‘fake it to make it’. This is not an invitation for them to embrace delusional thinking but to take a leap of faith. It is akin to positive thinking. The individual believes that their recovery is going to be a success, and they begin to act as if this were already the case. By doing this, the individual kicks off a positive feedback loop – this is where positive events in the past trigger positive events in the future. Within a short time, the person begins to see the tangible benefits of living in recovery, and they no longer have to fake it. Their original leap of faith would have gotten the ball rolling.
Faith and realistic expectations
Faith is closely related to having realistic expectations in recovery. It is unreasonable for people to expect that their life is going to be perfect as soon as they stop drinking or using drugs. It takes time and energy to build a successful recovery. Giving up substance abuse is vital as the first step in a long process.
The individual has to have faith that the right things will happen to them in the future by doing the right things now. If the individual has unrealistic expectations, this can lead to disillusionment and relapse.
Faith to make it through the early days of recovery
The early days of recovery can be turbulent and challenging. When the individual first become sober, they will have withdrawal symptoms that can be unpleasant. It can then take them some time to settle into a life where chemical oblivion is no longer an option.
The newly sober person now has to face life on life’s terms, which can be difficult. Emotions that have been suppressed for years can begin to defrost, and the first few months of recovery can be like an emotional rollercoaster.
The fact that the early days of recovery can be so tricky means that the individual may begin to question their decision. Just giving up alcohol and drugs does bring some initial benefits, but it may not be enough to convince people that they have made the right choice. To keep going and develop sobriety, the individual must have faith that things will keep improving.
Importance of faith in continued recovery
Even when people have witnessed the benefits of staying sober, they may still need faith. This is because there will always be goals to aim for without guaranteeing results. Most individuals will only commit themselves to a difficult task if they have faith in their ability to achieve it. The fact that people in advanced recovery have already seen how beneficial a leap of faith can be means that it is easier for them to make such leaps in the future.
Faith and critical thinking
Taking a leap of faith is often necessary for people who hope to build a good life away from addiction. There can also be times when believing in things without sufficient evidence can get people into trouble. If a person is too gullible, they may be susceptible to manipulation by con artists and charlatans because they will believe almost anything. This is why combining faith with critical thinking is usually a good idea. That way, the individual can benefit from faith without embracing delusional thinking.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction-related issue, call Freephone 0800 140 4044