Only those struggling with a substance use disorder can make the changes necessary to recover from their addiction.
However, at what point they decide recovery is something they want to pursue is different for each person.
Some need to hit “rock bottom” or be hit with a hard dose of reality before they realize how their substance use is affecting those around them. Others are aware from the onset and are embarrassed by their substance use—actively hiding and denying it to those they love because they realize it’s something out of control.
Whatever place you’re at and whatever you fear in attempting recovery, there is hope when you trust your own resilience and decide you are ready to make a change.
There Is Always Hope
We can think of hope as embracing the anticipation that there are brighter and better days ahead, that new life is right around the corner with recovery, and that sobriety isn’t just a possibility but well worth the hard work. Even when you are in complete despair, there is hope.
Finding hope and keeping it alive is essential to recovery. Understanding hope and practicing hope are two entirely different things.
There are many ways to discover and keep hope through every stage of recovery.
- Be grateful. Whether you’re making a list or keeping a journal, try to find anything sobriety allows you to enjoy each day. This can remind you that even the smile of a stranger or the sun on your face during a walk is something to be thankful for.
- Listen to other people’s stories of hope. Hope is contagious! Hearing other people retell their own recovery success, complete with struggles that were overcome, can be a strong catalyst to your own hope.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Self-loathing and perfectionism are sure ways to kill your hope. Holding yourself (or anyone else) to unachievable standards of perfection will cause despair. Be patient with yourself and remember that recovery is a journey.
- Envision your sober self. Think of yourself in a place of peace, tranquility, and freedom. Visualize yourself not bound to your substance use and its stigmas or consequences, but free to do the things you love without the constant need for your substance getting in the way.
- Find others who are seeking hope. Whether it’s a faith community finding hope in something bigger than themselves or a group of other recovering individuals working to inspire each other, being in a community that is seeking the same thing can be a source of hope in and of itself. Knowing you’re not alone and having others to talk to when you get discouraged or feel overwhelmed gives hope to everyone.
Resilience: We Are Elasti-People
Irrepressible. When I looked up the word “resilient” in the thesaurus, that synonym jumped off the page at me. Cannot be repressed, cannot be held back or held down; that is irrepressible.
A single person is easier to slow down than a cart holding five people. An empty truck stops faster than a fully-loaded semi when the brakes are applied. The same idea applies to our motivation—when you have hope, a community of like individuals working toward a similar goal, and resilience, there is little that can stop the forward momentum of your recovery.
There will inevitably be things which impede your progress. Backslides, emotional turmoil, loneliness, and fear can all slow down the recovery process. The difference between slowing it down and letting it come to a full stop is your resilience.
Like an elastic band, you can feel stretched to your limit at times during recovery. Situations will come up that cause you to question your ability to rebound, but having others cheering you on can be the difference between the elastic of your hope snapping and having it bounce back to its original state.
Ready for a Change
How do you know when you’re ready to begin the journey to recovery? That answer is different for everyone.
The fact that you are reading this proves that there is a spark of hope already glimmering inside of you. People suffering from substance use often lie to themselves instead of admitting they have a problem. If you are tired of hiding your addiction from loved ones, weary of finding excuses to cover up your substance use, and/or fearful of the consequences lurking around every corner, know there is help available and you’re not alone. Recovery is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Each individual person has their own “breaking point” at which they finally admit they have a problem and need help. Whether you’ve come to the realization on your own or are being encouraged by a loved one, know that recovery is possible regardless the stage of your substance use.
St. Gregory is a place where each client is treated based on their unique situation and challenges. The possibilities are endless once you find hope in recovery.