Positive Psychology and Spirituality

Substance Abuse Counseling and Positive Psychology

Substance abuse is one of the most common problems in the modern world. In fact, research has shown that millions of people suffer silently from substance abuse and hardly talk it out. People may engage in drugs for many reasons such as peer pressure, stress and depression or out of sheer curiosity (Lewis et al., 2014). Many of the users start just as a one-off activity. However, when body functioning becomes dependent on drugs; they can hardly function without their  influence. At this stage, the body of the substance abuser no longer functions ‘normally’. Drugs become a necessity in their lives.

Substance abusers often think that the drugs bring positive side effects to them. However, truth be told, the drugs do more harm than good. The feeling of hallucinations, more courage among other effects is just a momentary feeling. In reality, the drugs harm the person’s body organs and also ‘kills’ his or her soul. The person cannot do anything without the help of these drugs. Nevertheless, there is hope. Substance abuse counselling department has been in existence to deal with the drug abuse cases (Lewis et al., 2014).

Substance abuse counseling helps people to overcome their dependencies on drugs. The counseling process, however, is not as easy as it sounds. Lewis et al. (2014) explains that substance abuse counseling involves a lot of determination and commitment from the person abusing drugs and the counselor. In recent times, research has shown that integration of positive psychology and spirituality goes a long way to help heal the drug abuser. Many counselors have opted to use these two major therapies in their sessions to help the patients gain a speedy recovery and to deal with the challenges that come with withdrawal from substance abuse.

Positive psychology is a scientific method of study that gives insight into the strengths and virtues that help individuals and societies to flourish. It focuses more on the happiness, personal strength, well-being, wisdom, creativity and imagination of the people both at an individual and a societal level. It emphasizes on the positives of life; what makes life worth living. However, this does not mean that the system overlooks the real problem. For many years, traditional psychology dealt with only the weakness; what made things go wrong. Researchers discovered that this method was not giving desired results and thus adopted the positive psychology method to complement the traditional psychology. In as much as the ‘modern’ or positive psychology covers the things that went right in an individual, it also considers the real problem(Carr, 2011). The substance abuse counsellors, psychiatrists and psychologists can thus handle their patients especially those with mental problems with considerable meticulousness and efficiency.

There are four major goals of positive psychology. First, it helps the individual to rise above the life’s challenges. Challenges are not meant to kill the spirit but instead to make it stronger. This particular goal encourages the individual to view setbacks as stepping stones to a better future by making most of the adversity. Positive psychology also aims to embolden social integration. The person under this therapy learns how to engage and interrelate with other people in the society. By relating with others, one gets a sense of belonging and identity. Their problem or challenge is no longer theirs(Carr, 2011). They can view it from other people’s perspective, and it encourages them to walk past their problems.

In addition, positive psychology inspires people to engage in activities that bring fulfillment in their lives. The activities can be based on productivity or creativity. They should derive pleasure from these events and as a result, their dealing with challenges will not be as tough. Finally, the person should not be self-centered (Carr, 2011). Positive psychology instils a character of ‘togetherness’. The person under the therapy can reach out to other people. Together, they find satisfaction, take care and help each other.

Juanita is struggling with withdrawal symptoms. She has been a substance abuser and her body is already used to depending on drugs for it to function ‘normally’. Having to stop the drugs completely is depriving the body what it needs most. The constant feeling of taking ‘just a little’ to stabilize her body is eminent. Her body is resisting this new system of not getting its dosage for the day. That is why she is finding it difficult to remain sober. The substance abuse also seems to have completely killed her spirit and soul. Her self-esteem is down to the drain. She has not only lost confidence in herself and her capabilities but also in connecting with others.

Nevertheless, Juanita should not be deterred in her quest for sobriety. Carr (2011) explains that these are simply challenges or obstacles on her recovery. Everyone undergoing substance abuse counseling encounters them. They may be of varying intensities but what matters is if the person is bold enough to tackle them. The positive psychology therapy will help Juanita face her challenges head on. The therapy gives her a totally positive view of life. Positive psychology will help her learn to interact with other people and share in their lives. Through interaction, her fear of not getting a boyfriend will disappear. She will slowly regain her self-esteem. It is important that she learns to avoid her previous friends that encouraged her drug taking. This way, she will avoid the temptations of falling back to drugs.

Despite her ‘tough’ life as a child; that is, lack of fatherly love and constant critics from her mother, Juanita should learn to rise to the challenges life has bombarded her with. She should not base her life on her ‘ugly’ past but should instead learn from them. There are two exercises that would greatly help Juanita heal. First, according to Carr (2011), she should calmly close her eyes and envision the good times she has had in her life and what she loves doing most. The exercise could last about five minutes. In addition, Juanita could also talk about her positive strengths. For example, she could focus on her love for biology and mathematics in high school. The talking rejuvenates her past sweet memories and this will give her morale to concentrate on the positives in future.

Spirituality and religion are often misunderstood to mean the same, but this is not the case. Both words have very distinctive meanings. Religion involves believing in God or gods in a form of worship whereas spirituality focuses on a spiritual world; gaining spiritual things, not earthly wealth. Spirituality is often dignified with everything constructive. However, religion is mostly associated with negativity and contradictions because there are many religions, but there is only one type of spirituality (Worthington, 2011).

Spiritual psychology is very important in substance abuse counselling. It combines both science and spirituality to help an individual feel happy and comfortable with his or her life. It is imperative that the body, mind and spirit remain healthy and in shape; and all work together for one to be ‘normal’ and harmonized. Professionals understand the need for the three portions to be coherent and thus prescribe spiritual psychology therapy to all their patients. Spiritual psychology plays a key role in helping heal a ‘wounded’ spirit heal and repair splintered souls (Culliford, 2010). This type of therapy has been in existence for many centuries but lately, it has gained immense identity in the psychology world.

People suffering from spiritual crises can cause havoc in their life and that of surrounding people. They are not at peace, at all. Most of the time, they appear confused and lost. They tend to relay their anger and desperation to everyone around them. It is even worse for a drug addict who is on the road to recovery. Such people always tend to feel guilty for everything that has happened in their lives and the lives of others too. However, Culliford (2010) explains that through spiritual psychology sessions, there is inner healing.The patients often need an atmosphere where they can share their problems comfortably without being judged. Spiritual psychology serves as the home to these troubled souls. Juanita, therefore, should consider having spiritual psychology sessions where she will learn to accept and be at peace with her inner self. Ultimately, she will achieve her goal of leading a life free from drugs.




Carr, A. (2011). Positive psychology: The science of happiness and human strengths. Routledge. London.

Culliford, L. (2010). The psychology of spirituality: An introduction. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. London.

Lewis, J., Dana, R., & Blevins, G. (2014). Substance abuse counseling. Cengage Learning

Worthington, E. L., Hook, J. N., Davis, D. E., & McDaniel, M. A. (2011). Religion and spirituality. Journal of Clinical Psychology67(2), 204-214.

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