Recovering from an addiction is a complex process. The road is never smooth. In fact, you will probably encounter obstacles, hardships and heartaches. But it’s a journey that everyone hoping to recover from addiction must make. It is the only way to move from a life of destruction to life of health, wellness and joy.
While there are many paths to recovery, there is one constant-and that’s hope. But why is hope so important in recovery?
The Importance of Hope in Recovery
Hope is more than mere wishful thinking; it is the bedrock upon which you build your recovery. Without hope, or a desire to recover, there would be no motivation to get better. With no motivation, there would be very little meaningful action. Finally, with proper action comes improvement through a series of steps leading to a plan for recovery, and working the plan for years to come. I cannot stress harder the significance of hope in recovery.
What is ‘hope’?
Each of us defines hope differently. But in essence, hope is the expectation that things in the future will be better; knowing that the sun will shine again.
Relating to addiction recovery, hope becomes a foundation and the energy that drives us to find a way to get better and heal. It keeps us strong when we encounter challenges. And hope gives us a sense of joy and peace, knowing that a better tomorrow exists.
When preoccupied in an addictive substance or behaviour, it not always easy to see a life beyond the addiction; beyond the chaos, pain and suffering. But hope can be found. There is no right or wrong way to find hope. Sometimes it comes easy, and sometimes we need to work to find hope.
Below are a few ways that have helped our clients find hope even during times of deep despair.
Listen to Stories of Hope
Listening to stories of hope, success and triumphs of others can help us find hope. These stories not only inspire us, but also shed light on strategies of finding and sustaining hope even during the darkest times.
Think of the Future
Look into the future and identify who and what’s important to you. It could be a loved one such as a child, spouse or parents. It can also be an event or something you always wanted to do. Looking into the future helps cultivate a purpose and direction in life (i.e. hope).
Though a simple process, positive affirmations do work. The repetition of positive affirmations leads to belief, and belief is at the heart of hope. Affirmations such as ‘I am strong, I can overcome my challenges, I am a new person, I feel new hope and I can recover’ rebuild a sense of self-worth and your belief that you are capable of achieving your goals. Not only do affirmations build belief, but also a confidence and a drive for change and action.
Leaning on a Higher Power
Many find hope by reaching for a higher power. This could be through spirituality, religion or philosophy. Reaching to a higher power is actually Step 2 in the 12-Step Process, “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”. Simplified this reads as ‘There is help for my problem and I believe I can address it’.
Accept Your Current Situation
For someone it may be hard to accept that they are currently in a bad place. But the courage of acceptance is the first step in desiring a better future (i.e hope). Acceptance helps us realize that our current situation is not where we want to be, and helps us develop a vision of where we want to be. Without acceptance, we cannot take control of our destiny to reach a better tomorrow.
Have Realistic and Meaningful Plan
It is action that makes hopes come true. By the mere fact of developing a plan for a better future you will build hope. The more your plan, with firm action steps and dates, you will come to realize that your vision is truly attainable.
The journey and recovery from addiction is never an easy one. No one can last long and keep fighting for recovery without hope. Hope is a central ingredient in our recovery. Finding hope and meaning, together with a solid plan, helps us move forward on our journey of recovery.
“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope” – Martin Luther
By George Ratnanather