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Here’s How to Overcome Addiction with Hope

Focusing on fear and consequence isn’t always the best motivation.

Consider focusing on hope instead, and you may just find you’re able to work through your experience with addiction.

According to writer and recovering addict Maia Szalavitz, author of Unbroken Brain, hope is the light in an addict’s life that most promotes change. Szalavitz states in her book and in this NPR interview that when she got sober, it wasn’t because of tough consequences, like jail time or eviction notices, it was because she finally had a glimmer of hope. The author explained that although she had many opportunities to get sober, it was the feeling that sobriety might be possible that made the difference for her.

Hope is an essential ingredient for change. Yet, sadly, most addicts are responded to with consequences. Szalavitz was addicted to heroin and cocaine between the ages of 17 and 23, and since getting sober she has been writing about addiction and recovery in an effort to create change.

Hope can be the ingredient that gets someone into recovery, as it did for Szalavitz, and it can also be the key to keeping a recovering addict on the road to healing and growth. For instance, hope can mean…

  • believing in your ability to stay sober or at least on the recovery path.
  • having a vision for your life that includes health, well being, and sobriety.
  • preventing feelings of sadness, loss, confusion, and chaos.
  • knowing where you’re going and how can create meaning and purpose in your life.
  • If you’d like to create hope in your life or if you’re feeling lost, overwhelmed, or helpless, here are three suggestions for finding hope:
  1. Read the stories of others. Reading about the challenges of others and how they turned their life around can be incredibly inspiring. Read about how a person changed their life despite the odds, and let that story fill you with possibilities for a different life.
  2. Set goals for yourself. Sometimes, when you have a vision and you can lay out a plan to bring that vision to life, you create more hope in your life. When you can see that it’s possible, when you recognize that all you need to do is reach one small goal at a time, then it might begin to feel like more and more of a reality. Sobriety, for instance, which might at first feel like an impossible achievement becomes reachable with small goals. As they say in the Alcoholics
  3. Anonymous (AA) community, “One step at a time.”
  4. Use Affirmations – Research indicates that our bodies and the brain respond to the thoughts we have. It’s as though our whole system is listening to the thoughts we have. One way to keep thoughts positive is to repeat certain, clear thoughts to yourself. You might choose to use one of the affirmations below or create one that is meaningful for you:
  • I am a good person.
  • I am intelligent.
  • I put all negativity behind me.
  • I am loved.
  • I have many talents.
  • I am blessed.
  • I have confidence.
  • I am not a victim.
  • I have a wonderful life.
  • I look forward to each new day.

If you’re struggling in your recovery or if you haven’t yet gotten help for your addiction, hope might be the light that inspires you to take action.