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Book: Spirituality and Wellbeing

Chapter: 8. To Thine Own Self be True: Alcoholics Anonymous, Recovery and Care of the Self

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35875


In this paper, a discussion is built upon findings from a qualitative study that investigated how young men worked through the process of recovery from substance use disorder whilst participating in 12-step fellowships in the UK (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous). Alcoholic Anonymous’ spiritual discourse on recovery gives prominence to the development of a set of spiritual practices that trains participants in their capacities of self-care and self-regulation (i.e. writing, praying). Drawing on Foucault (2005), spiritual exercises were in antiquity a form of pedagogy, designed to teach people of a philosophical life that had both a moral and existential value. Spiritual practices were ways in which to enact self-transformation - an exercise of self upon the self by which one attempts to develop and transform, in order to attain a certain mode of being. The participants’ narratives presented authenticity and care of the self as a salient aspect of their recovery. Care and authenticity had become, in Antonovsky's (1987) words, ‘a generalized way of seeing the world’.

Chapter Contributors

  • Lymarie Rodriguez ( - lrodriguez) 'University of Wales Trinity St David'