• Creating a New, Purposeful Life

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    Creating a New, Purposeful Life

    We have all watched the inspiring news stories featuring individuals who have experienced huge personal loss, are disabled or suffering from a critical disease, but refuse to allow their misfortunes to interfere with their quest for a fulfilling life. These courageous individuals realize a full life is a life with purpose.

    A purposeful life gives no credence to the “pity party” mentality. People who are dedicated to a goal find little time to worry about their own ailment, whether it is cancer, loss of limbs or even addiction. Absolute commitment to a principle, cause or idea takes the focus off the negative and provides a positive target to work toward every day.

    Living a meaningful life requires thought, planning and resolution. For people with addictions, this is another necessary and fundamental phase of their treatment and long-term recovery.

    Identifying a purpose involves finding a passion that speaks to the former substance abusers deepest beliefs. A purpose can range from interacting and raising your children, to working at a food bank, to becoming more effective at your job. There is absolutely no right or wrong choice as long as two things are avoided:

    1. The person cannot return to their addiction. 

    Do not choose a path that includes temptation. Some former drug abusers attempt to aid others suffering from the same issues. For some people in recovery, they find this access to current addicts irresistible and they may more readily relapse.

    1. The person cannot replace one addiction for another.A new target is necessary, instead of just transferring the destructive addictive urges onto something else.

    The Connection between Purpose and Balance

    A life with purpose is a life with balance. Unfortunately, a balanced life can be elusive, not just for healing addicts, but for everyone who functions in this fast-paced, hectic world.

    Dr. Steven Melemis, a specialist in addiction, states, “You don’t recover from an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life and a new purpose so that it is easier to not use.”[1] This includes avoiding temptation, strong social support, managing stress and intense perseverance. Here are just a few ideas to assist in fulfilling your life with purpose.

    • Start Small.

    After returning home from a rehabilitation facility, it is common to quickly jump into many areas all at once. If you have been addicted to drugs or alcohol, the sense of well-being you experience when you are sober is energizing. One of the most important lessons is to narrow your options at first so you will not become overwhelmed. If you schedule is overloaded, it is virtually impossible to achieve balance and manage it all. It’s just not possible.

    • Explore and Expand.

    You are not alone if you are unsure where you want to devote your energy. Addiction is a harmful and all-consuming way of life and it may take you time to uncover your heart’s purpose. It is often beneficial to explore classes, volunteer at a variety of causes and most important, find time to reflect. Keeping a journal will help you narrow your choices and reveal what priorities matter most to you.

    Learning to live without a reliance on alcohol or drugs is one of the most difficult goals to accomplish. After months or even years of addiction, there is a void and lack of direction for addicts when their daily lives are no longer limited by substance abuse.

    Boredom can be deadly, literally. The more a recovering individual can focus on their goals, targets and achievements, the easier it will be for them to maintain sobriety.

    • Find a Higher Purpose.

    A purpose in life does not have to be revolutionary. Alcoholics Anonymous encourages their members to consider the presence of a “higher power.”

    But some believe that a “higher purpose” provides more direction to maintaining abstinence. Finding fulfillment in life will require an open mind and willingness to embrace the support of others. Just like conquering addiction, the help of others is essential in finding a purposeful life.

    References:

    [1] http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/recovery-skills.htm


    Audrey Beim holds two advanced degrees from major universities, including a Master’s Degree in Psychology. She has over 20 years of experience in the health, wellness, nutritional and fitness categories and has used her expertise to write articles for media outlets such as Linfield Media and Examiner.com.


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