Addiction is often accompanied by feelings of hopelessness — both for addicts and for the people who love them. While finding hope can be difficult when you feel like you’ve reached rock bottom, doing so can have a powerful and positive effect in recovery. Here’s a closer look at how hope supports addiction treatment, along with tips for developing hope on your own journey to recovery.
How Hope Heals
We’ve all heard the phrase “the power of positive thinking.” While the concept may sound more like wishful thinking, the reality is that positive thinking can have a very real impact on our lives — and not just in terms of the relationship between setting your mind to doing something and achieving it. But even as it pertains to our health and wellness. In fact, according to It’s All in Your Head: Change Your Mind, Change Your Health author Mark Pettus, MD, it’s possible to “train the brain to be addicted to health.”
According to Anatomy of Hope author Jerry Groopman, MD, meanwhile, hope is an even stronger mindset than positivity because it understands and acknowledges the challenges. “For my patients, hope, true hope, has proved as important as any medication I might prescribe or procedure I might perform,” he contends.
This aligns perfectly with addiction therapy and cognitive behavior therapy, which asserts that in order for addicts to truly overcome their addictions they must first identify and deal with the obstacles that led to addiction in the first place. Furthermore, just as addiction causes changes in the brain, the brain can also produce healing chemicals that support hope. Concludes natural health expert Karolyn A. Gazella, “Feeling hopeful can enhance mood, take away pain, and help us live life with more vitality. And best of all, hope has no side effects.”
Seven Tips for Having Hope
When you’ve hit rock bottom, having hope may sound like it’s easier said than done. After all, when you’re feeling your worst at this moment, how can you shift to feeling optimistic in the next one? There’s good news, however: There are some things you can do to be more hopeful, including the following strategies shared by TED speakers:
1. Adjust your expectations
Instead of waking up and expecting a bad day, acknowledge the good in the day instead — even something as small as your first sip of coffee. “Optimism changes subjective reality. The way we expect the world to be changes the way we see it. But it also changes objective reality. It acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot.
2. Accept that change is possible
Even if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and that the future only holds more of the same, anything can change at any point. Opening yourself up to the many possibilities can help you look forward to what’s ahead as opposed to merely resigning yourself to it.
3. Find the meaning in every moment.
Good and bad things happen in everyone’s lives. And we can learn from them all. Says writer Andrew Solomon, “You need to take the traumas and make them part of who you’ve come to be, and you need to fold the worst events of your life into a narrative of triumph, evincing a better self in response to things that hurt.”
4. Get out of your own head.
Mired in your own stuff? Try connecting with someone else, instead. Talking — and listening — to someone else with intention can lead to inspiration of your own.
5. Find your center.
The recovery journey will have ups and downs. Finding your center and focusing on it can help you stay balanced. “This might be creativity, it might be family, it might be invention, adventure, faith, service, it might be raising corgis,” proposes Eat, Pray, Love writer Elizabeth Gilbert.
6. Consider the world’s wonders.
Even if your immediate world may be turmoil, there are big and amazing things happening in the world around you courtesy of the creativity, teamwork, effort of other people. Focusing on these world-changing initiatives can help you maintain a more cheerful outlook.
7. Recognize the good in the world
Even in humanity’s darkest moments, the goodness of people is irrepressible. Knowing this good is out there — and has always been out there — supports the notion that there’s even more goodness ahead. “There is an unfathomable amount of kindness that I have seen, and when we put our fears aside, when we connect to strangers, when we smile at the people next to us or put away our judgments, it opens up a door into an entirely different way of life,” says kindness guru Mary Latham.
While expecting to overcome addiction on hope alone is unrealistic, incorporating a more hopeful outlook into treatment and recovery can be a vital complementary strategy. Speaking of treatment and recovery, finding the right program can make all the difference. Leading St. Louis drug rehab has been helping people struggling with substance use and abuse for more than 50 years. Call us to learn about admissions today.