The Importance of Purpose in Addiction Recovery
Having purpose in the face of addiction can be empowering.
Many people entering drug and alcohol addiction treatment feel defeated, worthless, and expendable. That feeling may be due to a combination of factors, but the negative thought pattern can leave a person unable to stop the pattern of abuse. Changing that around and creating purpose, on the other hand, gives you a sense of fight that’s far more powerful than drugs or alcohol, with the right level of treatment and support.
Why Life Purpose Is So Important to Addiction Recovery
Having a purpose each day gives you a reason to get up and get on with the day. The benefit here is routine. When a routine is present, you go through your day getting steps accomplished. You’re not left to think about using drugs or battle with negative thought patterns. In nearly every situation, this means you’ve pushed relapse off at least one more day.
Consider a simple example. You adopt a cat a few months after leaving inpatient care. You have a stable, clean environment ideal for your pet. If you decide not to get out of bed, the cat is going to be hungry and potentially become ill. If you don’t clean out the litter box, play with the animal, and show some affection towards it, you know the cat’s life will suffer. That’s reason enough to get up each day and get on with your life.
Having some type of purpose in your life allows you to focus on something other than your addiction and the underlying reasons for it. Your purpose can be anything that matters to you. It may be family, friends, or a job. You may be passionate about your religion or dedicated to helping others get through their recovery.
Also, having a daily routine like this helps to keep your body happy. You get up and go to bed around the same time. You eat consistently. Your body is getting the nutrition it needs to fuel recovery. Plus, this contributes to your mental recovery as well.
Overcoming Obstacles in Living a Purpose-Driven Life
What’s limiting you from living a life that’s filled with purpose? Sometimes, leaving rehab means starting a brand-new life. You’re forced to find a job, take care of your own apartment, and focus on day-to-day tasks. Other times, it can be easy to fall back into the previous routine.
It’s important to pinpoint any obstacles that could be limiting you:
- Do you have responsibilities during the day? If not, consider why not.
- Do you have an underlying mental health disorder making it difficult to do so? Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are not uncommon in those with a substance use disorder.
- Have you not thought much about what you want from life right now? Sometimes, it’s important to just create goals based on what’s important to you.
Addressing All Risks – Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders
A key component of creating purpose is ensuring your mental health status is stable. A person who enters addiction rehab may not only be battling the chemical dependency and addiction, but also underlying mental health disorders. This is called co-occurring disorders or having a dual diagnosis. It is very often missed by traditional doctors because the symptoms can be very similar to addiction.
However, it’s not uncommon. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports 7.9 million people in the United States have a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time.
If both issues do not receive treatment, it’s impossible to find happiness and purpose in day-to-day life during recovery. For example, if you are suffering from depression that’s untreated, it’s hard to find the energy to get up each day to care for your pet.
How to Create Purpose for Your Recovery Life
There are several steps necessary to create purpose like this in your daily life. If your current purpose isn’t enough, consider these steps, too.
- Create a goal that’s important to you. Make a simple statement about what you are going to accomplish today. “I’m going to go out and apply for 10 jobs.” “I am going to find something to make me happy today.”
- Give yourself the tools to make that goal occur. Be sure to be specific about what you wish to achieve. Outline what responsibilities you have for yourself in an attainable manner. Don’t aim to clean the whole house. Instead, aim to get three loads of laundry done and the kitchen cleaned up. Or, if your purpose is your children, consider what you can do today to make your time meaningful. “Today, I’m going to feed my child, give him a bath, and read him a story.”
- Focus on how the day went. What did you accomplish? What could you do more of tomorrow? Reflect on accomplishments to spur future goals and purpose.
Building purpose is a process. Add a bit more meaning and responsibility to each of your days. When you do so, you’ll find yourself achieving more goals and building a strong, healthy life for yourself.
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