, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 889-906

Spiritual Transformation: A Phenomenological Study Among Recovering Substance Abusers

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Abstract

As a complement to an earlier quantitative investigation, this qualitative study was concerned with describing the lived experience of spiritual transformation within the context of a 12-month resident substance abuse recovery program called the Lazarus Project, which is sponsored by a southern U.S. Pentecostal-based congregation. We conducted phenomenological interviews with 10 participants (eight European-Americans; two African-Americans) who had been in the program from six to nine months and asked that they describe their most important spiritual experiences that brought about change. A hermeneutical analysis found that a pattern of five overlapping themes emerged consistently across all 10 protocols to describe the meaning of the experience of spiritual transformation for these participants. The themes were: (1) “Sick and Tired”, (2) Unmerited Love, (3) “I’m Changing,” (4) Fast/Gradual, and (5) Destiny. The themes are discussed from an existential perspective and related to the literature on spiritual transformation as well as the earlier quantitative study at the Lazarus Project.