I know more than anyone how vital hope is to recovering from addiction. You need it to stay positive and keep moving forward. You need it to believe that you can change, and that a better life is within reach despite everything you’ve been through. Yet when you’re in recovery, it can be very difficult to stay hopeful. What can you do to keep the hope alive? Here are some strategies and tools that really made a difference to me.
How I Kept Hope Alive During My Recovery from Addiction
I had a happy childhood. I had loving, hard-working parents that did everything they could to make sure that my brother and I had everything we needed, and everything they never had.
Nonetheless, at 9 years old I was attracted to the pull of the adult world. I got drunk for the first time at a family party. The feeling of liquid confidence surging through me was addictive. By 19 I had moved from alcohol to marijuana and even cocaine. My lifestyle and series of poor choices soon landed me with a two-year prison sentence.
Prison changed me and, for the first time, I saw how much damage my addictions had brought to my life. When I got out I made up my mind to get clean. I didn’t get any outside help, because believed I could do it all on my own.
I was wrong. I relapsed hard, and I lost all hope and faith I had in my own willpower to get my life back on track. My self-esteem and mental and emotional state took a powerful blow. At one point I became so convinced that there was no point in trying any longer that I attempted suicide.
After that, my parents had me admitted into a rehabilitation facility near them. Prison may have opened my eyes to how my addictions had turned me into everything I didn’t want to be, but rehab was what gave me hope that change was possible for me. Rehab was where I was finally given the tools, support and guidance I needed to succeed in recovery. But most of all, rehab helped me recover my sense of hope.
Hope is vital to recovery. You need it to stay positive and keep moving forward. You need to believe that you can change, and that a better life is within reach despite everything you’ve been through. Yet when you’re in recovery, it can be very difficult to stay hopeful. So what can you do to keep the hope alive? Here are some strategies and tools that really made a difference to me.
You need to accept the present. The good, the bad and the ugly need to be realistically acknowledged and accepted. Do not exaggerate how bad your situation is, but don’t downplay it either. Once you acknowledge and accept your present reality, don’t let it own you. Your present does not have to be your future and you have the power to make the changes necessary to ensure your future is much brighter. Look at things as they are without letting it bring you down.
Goals are an extremely important part of staying hopeful. Goals are expectations you have for yourself, to be actualized within a certain period of time. Expectations are one half of what hope is.
You should always have an idea of where you want to be in the future in terms of your recovery. Think about certain improvements or changes you’d like to make by the end of the week, the month, the year. Think about feelings and temptations you’d like to overcome. Believe that you can attain it, but don’t set yourself up for failure. Try to set goals and timeframes for yourself that are comfortably within reach.
Another really great way to stay hopeful is to both listen to and share stories of hope. The more you hear about other people’s journeys of healing and recovery, and the more you recount your own tales, the more prevalent these will be in your day-to-day life. Sharing stories of hope under hardship will lift your spirits and make you believe even more in your capacity to overcome your addictions and attain the life you imagine for yourself.
More often than not, you lose hope because you lose sight of all the things that are good in your life. You let the negativity cloud your mind and spirit, overshadowing all the positive things you have to be grateful for. Make lists of all the things that you are grateful for as often as you can. Write little reminders for yourself all over your house.
When you focus on all the good things that being sober gives you, you will find a newfound source of energy to stay on your path of recovery and wellness.
Hope is the bedrock of your recovery. Hope is believing that your expectations will become reality. Hope allows you to strive for bigger and better things with a positive outlook, because you know that everything is within reach. Without hope you cannot get better, so don’t lose it. Don’t lose hope because it’s never too late, and the only constant in life is change. Why not change for the better?