There is an increasing interest in the scientific study of the association between spirituality and recovery from addiction. While most of these studies have provided evidence for a possible relationship, others have explored the underlying mechanisms and meditators in the relationship. However, generally, many studies and reviews have not approached the issue within a specific theoretical framework of mainstream psychology. In an attempt to fill this gap, the review being reported here undertook a Qualitative Systematic Literature Review (QSLR) of addiction-spirituality literature. QSLR is an orderly manner of searching for academic literature, selecting relevant literature following a set of inclusion/exclusion criteria, qualitatively analysing the selected literature, and reporting the findings in such a way as to generate a set of hypotheses. QSLR focusses on literary data, rather than on numerical data as the tradition Systematic Literature Review and Meta-analysis do. Working within the framework of positive psychology, the present review attempted to identify the character strengths relevant to addiction and recovery by carrying out a QSLR on 53 selected peer-reviewed articles. Among the 24 character strengths, the following emerged as salient: wisdom, integrity, vitality, humility, forgiveness, kindness, love, hope and spirituality. On this basis, a hypothetical conclusion is suggested.


Qualitative Systematic Literature Review, Character Strengths, Positive Psychology, Addictive Behaviours, Spirituality, Addiction, Spirituality

Author Bio(s)

Originally from India, Selvam has been serving in religious and academic contexts in East Africa since 1992. He has separate undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, Sociology, and Religious Studies, and two master’s degrees in Philosophy of Religion and Psychology of Religion. He completed his PhD in psychology at the University of London. His doctoral work examined the possibility of facilitating recovery from addiction by means of Christian contemplative practice. Currently, he coordinates a master’s programme in Counselling Psychology at Tangaza University College, Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya. He has contributed to several peer-reviewed academic journals, and written several popular books, including Scaffoldings: Training Young People in Life Skills (Nairobi: Paulines). Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Sahaya G. Selvam at, Institute of Youth Studies, Tangaza University College, 15055-00509 Langata, Nairobi; Email: selvamsdb@gmail.com or iysma@tangaza.org

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