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Recent Dev Alcohol. 2008;18:187-208.

Spirituality and health: empirically based reflections on recovery.

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  • 1Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


In this chapter, we explore the spiritual functioning and well-being of individuals and how this relates to mental health and recovery from alcoholism within the conceptual framework of Alcoholics Anonymous. We raise the question of whether the spiritually oriented focus of AA is a critical factor in achieving recovery. We suggest that examining the findings from a large body of research on religion and mental health may provide further insight into this question. Specifically, we assert that the mechanisms through which the spiritual focus of AA may influence recovery from alcoholism may be similar to the mechanisms through which spirituality may influence mental health. These potential explanatory mechanisms include the provision of a community, a narrative framework for meaning-making, a means of coping through submission and redemption, and prescribed lifestyle behaviors.

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