In terms of Refuge Recovery, there is an offshoot, Dharma Recovery, the book is freely available online. Meetings didn’t work out for me but the book is good. How they describe addiction is something I could actually relate to - I wasn’t a daily drinker, not physically addicted, held down a good job, generally successful enough - the idea of engaging in a behaviour to escape present time reality.
In terms of the spiritual thing, this is how I come at that…
I think I’ve had depression and felt a need to get away from myself from when I started drinking, around 14. Getting wasted and being a wreck head gave me something to belong to. As I got older and started taking things on to have a more fulfilled life it gave me a way of releasing my stress. It helped me talk about my emotions and help build connections with people in a way I struggle to do sober. It gave me a sense of identity and a way of relating to the world and people around me.
My mum has undiagnosed mental health issues. I see a lot of her issues in me. So my mental health is a genetic and a physical thing. But I also believe that mental health is a spiritual thing. There is a book called The Art of Happiness where a psychologist works with the Dalai Lama to investigate the modern science which explains why ancient Buddhist philosophy works. There is also lots of evidence that being connected to people and part of a community is good for us.
The point I’m trying to make is that often the difference between science and spirituality is just a matter of perspective, especially when it relates to the human condition. Really they are both just a way of articulating a process of inquiry and discovery.
I don’t believe there is one absolute truth and I think we have no way of knowing what we don’t know (can you tell I was a social sciences student ). In my very limited experience, when I have been involved in learning about a topic, the more I learn the more I realise how many more questions there are to answer! Sometimes I think we have to accept that we won’t have all the answers. It doesn’t mean we have to stop asking questions but sometimes not needing to have all the details can be liberating.
I don’t know if being connected to a group of people is enough on its own, but I can see it being a big part of why recovery programmes can work. If we can feel validated for being sober and part of a community of people who get it and want us to succeed, that sounds pretty powerful to me.