Dr. Joe Savon on Spirituality In Recovery

Dr. Joseph Savon

Spirituality in recovery has been a focus of addiction treatment for many years, and many say that its roots were planted when Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935. Dr. Joe Savon, Medical Director and Co-Founder of New Life Medical Addiction Services, is a spiritually guided and practicing Christian for whom the message of AA makes total sense. As he says, “I have had many addiction patients whose lives were radically transformed for the better through AA!”

Although most people are aware of Alcoholics Anonymous, (or AA as it is more commonly called), not many of them know the story of its founding. In 1935, Wall Street analyst and newly recovering alcoholic Bill Wilson (Bill W.), then struggling with a difficult business decision, sought to stay sober by sharing his burdens with a surgeon named Bob Smith (Dr. Bob) who was detoxing from alcohol at that time.

Bill Wilson suggested to Dr. Smith that alcoholism was not a failure of will or morals but was rather an actual sickness (advances in medicine and psychology would prove him right). Bill W. attributed his recovery to his being a member of a Christian revivalist sect call the Oxford Group. This Christian influence had deep influence on Wilson and Smith and their thoughts on addiction and recovery.

After leaving the Oxford Group to form a fellowship of alcoholics only, Wilson and Smith, along with other early members, wrote the classic book “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism”. Published in 1939 and often called “the Big Book”, it contains AA’s famous Twelve Step recovery program

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are a suggested course of action for people who are in recovery. For those who follow the AA guidelines, the program’s 12 steps are non-negotiable aspects of getting clean and sober and staying so.

Some of the critical Steps of AA include:

  • Admitting that one is powerlessness over alcohol and acknowledging the damage it causes to the user and those around them.
  • Creating a list of personal failings and making a commitment to correct them.
  • Making amends for past misdeeds by directly apologizing to those who were hurt by those actions.
  • The pursuit of continued spiritual development while helping other alcoholics towards sobriety through the Steps in order to stay recovered.

The Steps also suggest the healing aid of a God that is in the understanding of the person who is seeking to remain sober.

Some people find the inclusion of a deity in the AA guidelines to be off-putting. To Dr. Savon, the focus on God and spirituality are natural complements to the self-healing process that is really at the heart of any attempt to get sober.

“Humility is a core aspect of my Christian faith. In simple terms it’s about believing in something greater than oneself. This is a central problem for many addicts. They think that they are their own highest authority and that they are in total control of their lives. This always flies in the face of their addiction and the fact that they lose all control when it comes to their substance of choice.”

Turning over control of one’s life to a higher power is central to the success of AA. Once an addict understands that their life is completely unmanageable, turning control over to a higher power is often the only way to admit defeat so that they can then move forward.

Humility is one of the keys to successful recovery outcomes for patients. It is also a central tenant of Dr. Joe’s approach to treatment.

“First, I am not the judge of anyone. God is the judge and recognizing that is very liberating.

Second, forgiveness is not optional, it is mandatory. I believe that someday I am going to ask to be forgiven. I hope that I will be, but I can’t be forgiven unless I forgive others. Third, every individual is created and loved by God. In that light, if someone is good enough for God to love them then who am I to judge. By enacting these beliefs at New Life, I am trying to create a treatment environment that is truly caring.”

New Life Medical Addiction Services is an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility that was founded in 2018 by Dr. Joe, his co-founder, Joel Albano and a group of private investors. During the journey to create New Life, Joe always knew he wanted to offer the best possible treatment for every person who came through the door. “That we provide the highest standard of addiction care in an outpatient setting is a crucial difference between what New Life does and how much of the rest of the industry approaches treatment” explains Dr. Joe. “We believe that treating people in our facility and then letting them go home to be with the people who love and care for them produces superior outcomes to 30-day inpatient treatment centers in many cases”.

 Too often, people have paid $20,000 or more for a 30-day stay at an inpatient in another state only to find that they relapse into their old habits once they return to their normal lives. “The problem is that whatever drove them to addiction in the first place is there for them when they come home from a resort-like inpatient center. New Life is nearby for its patients and is a place where they can come for care whenever they need it.”

As Dr. Joe explains, “The patients at New Life come from every walk of life, every socio-economic status, and every race and ethnic group. The disease of addiction doesn’t discriminate.” Addiction is truly a universal leveler. People can become addicted for a wide range of reasons and often through no fault of their own. Regardless of the causes, Joe sees his mission as simply to help.

Joe’s God-centered spirituality provides him with clear guidelines that make things very simple for him when he works with patients at New Life. “At this point in my life, this is not about money” explains Joe. “This is about trying to make a difference, trying to do things in a way that will benefit people and to try to fix some of the holes in the system. I’m in the right place in the right time in my life and I am very grateful to be at New Life”.

To speak to someone at New Life, call us at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message.

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