Rabbi Shais Taub tells TheFix: Addicts have the existential pain many of us do, but they feel it more acutely. Normal people have the luxury of being able to live in a state of spiritual laxity and get away with it. They can get through life not taking care of their spiritual fitness, or go years without prayer or meditation and remain relatively unharmed. It’s easy for someone in recovery to know they are on the right spiritual path because they can see the results of their behavior really quickly. Recovering addicts are the most spiritually fit people, but if they spend a week or a month not seeking conscious contact, others will notice the differences in their behavior. Look at an athlete. If you’re in great shape physically, you’ll notice major changes after sitting on the couch for a month. If you’ve spent 30 years on the couch, an extra month won’t do anything.
The only way you’re never going to use again is if you find the relief you got from using. Spiritual awakening is that relief. If I’m in recovery for a year and still crazy and still want to commit suicide, I would question whether the steps are being used effectively. Then you see a person who’s gaining the freedom from self-obsession. It’s easy to notice. When religious people make claims about the veracity of their dogma, it’s impossible to verify. When I die, I’ll go to heaven? Sure, call me when you get to heaven and let me know. But the spirituality of recovery is easy to verify. You simply can’t fake it.