Hope and the recovering addict

I can’t help but think how valuable this information would have been to me about 11 years ago when I was out there, struggling to stay sober, one painful day at a time.


This is something that I think every treatment center should add to their curriculum if they don’t have it in there already.


The fantastic power of hope.


Whether or not you’re a person in long term addiction recovery like me, or you’ve never even picked up a drink or a drug, you need to know that hope is what moves us forward in life.


Hope is what compels us to act.


When we have hope in our future, our present becomes a completely new experience.


Think about the last time something really positive happened in your life.


Maybe it was something you worked really hard for or maybe it was something that you lucked into.

Think of how you felt when you knew that because of this event, your future had changed for the better.


Think about the smile on your face, the feeling of excitement and how quickly the outlook on your life had changed. Think about the motivation and how energized you felt.

Something happened to introduce new hope for your future, and it changed the way you felt immediately, perhaps even before the change actually took place – just the news that something was going to happen was a game changer.


That’s the power of hope. Hope changes the way we feel, the way we think and most importantly, hope is one of the main driving forces behind taking action.


The feeling of hopelessness is common for people who are in active addiction. Hopelessness is just as powerful as hope, but in the other direction.


Without hope, the present loses meaning and our actions are pretty much meaningless. We act only to get through the day, whatever that looks like depending on where we are in our lives.


When I was living in a shelter and still smoking crack as much as I could, my actions were driven by my desire to get high that day. I did what I had to do. The actions I took, although they sometimes got me the result I was looking for, were meaningless because they didn’t get me anywhere I was happy about or proud of.


Getting high was exciting for a few seconds but it was nothing more than a brief escape from my reality, which was that I had no hope for my future.


Drug addicts like me must have hope for our future or we are doomed.


ALL of my relapses back into using were because I lacked hope for my future.


Today is completely different – I see an ever-evolving end goal in my future and the excitement of where I am going makes today a completely different experience.


What’s better is that I am the person who designed my future, I’m not leaving it up to chance or other people.


I know where I want to be tomorrow, so I know what I’m supposed to do today to get there.


Author Paul Arden sums it up perfectly in this quote: “Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have. Without having a goal it’s difficult to score.”


Dr. Benjamin Hardy is one of my favorite authors and he loves to talk about hope. In his book “Be Your Future Self Now” he says that without hope, motivation is impossible. I agree based on my experience.


He goes on to say that hope is three things:


1. A clear and specific goal

2. Agency thinking – the belief that you have control over what you do, that your actions matter, and you can impact the results in your life

3. Pathways thinking – You see a path, have a path, or can create a path or multiple paths from where you are now to your end goal


Please take this post as a practical guide to taking action.


Now that you know that hope is what motivates us, I ask that you take some time to consider your future:


Do you know exactly where you want to go?


Take some time to write about your future.


Take the time to dream about where you would love to see yourself three years from now. Use the best-case scenario. Don’t worry about whether the person you are today would be able to achieve these goals. Just write using your imagination and remember that nobody is going read this except you.


Ask yourself: If you knew that this was going to be your reality in three years, you were 100% convinced that this was going to happen, how much hope would you feel right now? How would this excite you and motivate you to act?


Is it time to change the end goal? – Change it into something you really want and then start taking one or two very small actions every morning before 8am to get you closer to the end goal and you will watch the trajectory of your life change very quickly.


Kelly is a Robbins-Madanes trained addiction recovery coach, creator or the Success In Sobriety Coaching program and is always available for a chat about your road to recovery after getting sober. kellyfrance.com/book