Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Morris, Teresa


One of the most common treatment recommendations for addiction is to attend 12-step programs. In such, spirituality is considered a critical component to long-term recovery. This research project sought to better understand the relationship between experiencing a spiritual awakening and recovery from addiction within the Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) 12-step program. Using a post-positivist paradigm and the Cognitive- behaviorism theory, data gathered from interviews with 15 participants was transcribed and then coded. Online platforms that host 12 step recovery forums were used to reach interested participants with approved engagement material. Then snowball sampling was used - participants used their social network to recommend other N.A. members who were interested in participating in the research.

The interview transcriptions were analyzed using open and axial coding. The interview transcriptions were first open coded, and categories were identified. Then axial codes were synthesized using the categories from open coding. From the axial codes, a relationship between spirituality and recovery from addiction was developed. Findings of this study showed that, having a space for participants to express their beliefs without religious dogma or judgement was a critical factor in developing spirituality. The Narcotics Anonymous program provides a social support network and coping resources which were identified as prerequisite to feelings of self-efficacy, connectedness, and hope. Participants shared that the Narcotics Anonymous program helped them to feel connected with self, others, and a higher power. Participants shared that spirituality, behaving in alignment with their spiritual principles, and feeling connected are protective factors against relapse. All the axial codes (connection, coping resources, and spiritual routine) had certain open coding categories in common: Meeting attendance, Literature, Positive Action, Protective Factors, and Sharing at meetings. These shared categories simultaneously function as sources of connection, coping resources, and as part of a spiritual routine (the axial codes). The three components of spirituality (the axial codes) are multifunctional which could explain why the 12-step program is so impactful.

In conclusion, a relationship between spirituality and recovery from addiction was uncovered in this research. Participants experienced some form of isolation or trauma and were in the throes of addiction prior to becoming members of N.A. Once they reach N.A., they began their spiritual awakening through one of the axial codes – connection, coping resources, or spiritual routine. Utilizing all three components could potentially lead to increased feelings of spirituality and long-lasting abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.

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Social Work Commons