Three of the main components that set aside addicts who achieve and maintain recovery versus those that never achieve it, or achieve it and lose it, are faith, hope and resilience. Often, these three elements of recovery can make the difference between life or death.
While some of these qualities are inborn to the individual, others can learn to open to their possibilities in the recovery process; if they are willing to become vulnerable and look at life in a new way. For these people, effective and nurturing support groups play an essential role in the development of these traits.
Many people are afraid to seek recovery help because they have the mistaken belief that they will be required to start believing in God and possibly join a church or other religious organization.
Unfortunately, some of those suffering from addictions have been subjected to spiritual abuse by religious organizations or figures in the past, furthering this fear of faith while seeking recovery.
Confusing the issue further, some recovery programs are run by religious organizations or meetings, such as 12 step groups, which are often held in church class or meeting rooms. This misinformation can deter many addicts from seeking meaningful recovery assistance.
The truth, however, is that faith does not have to be associated with religion or spirituality at all. There are three common definitions of faith, only the third of which is associated with spirituality or religion.
Faith is defined as:
Confidence or trust in a person or thing;
A belief that is not based on proof; and
A belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion.
Now if you are an individual who has a strong belief in a Supreme Being such as God and/or you are well-rooted in an organized religion, it is wonderful that it is working for you. But for those suffering from addiction who have had less than positive past faith experiences, here are five common examples of how we can have faith in everyday life without involvement of organized religion:
Faith in our ability to attain a goal or desired outcome.
Faith in professionals, such as doctors, counselors, and teachers, to have the ability to help us.
Faith in fundamental principles such as cause and effect; if this action is taken, then this is the likely result.
Faith in something bigger than the self, or outside the self that can help us. This can be spiritual such as angels and God, but it can also be a support group, nature, the galaxy; whatever resonates.
Faith received by listening to other people who have had similar problems to our own and have successfully overcome them.
Why Is Faith So Critical to Addiction Recovery?
For a person tormented by addiction, even a single drop of faith in believing that they can be helped can be a pivotal moment in seeking or continuing recovery. Many addicts, as a by-product of their addiction, can become filled with shame, depression, and an overwhelmingly low self-esteem. Having vision to see that their life can be better is challenging at best and requires faith to even entertain the idea.
Addicts may also lean toward being contemptuous and distrustful. Faith requires them to put a cap on their fears and set these unhelpful tendencies aside to risk the vulnerability that recovery requires.
Putting their faith in others – doctors, psychologists, support groups, and the like, is paramount to the addict’s recovery in order to secure the necessary assistance. This faith in others is needed throughout the recovery process, not just during initial detox.
Even without any proof that they will be able to get clean, sober, and recover, the addict needs at least a drop of faith that it is possible in order to seek help. Often this comes from hitting a bottom, sometimes “rock bottom” for the addict to become humble enough to allow faith to trickle into their awareness.
It can seem counterintuitive, but this is often how seeking and maintaining recovery begins.
Hope vs. Faith: There is a Difference
Hope is a stepping stone to faith.
While faith is believing that something desired already exists, hope is the optimistic attitude about the ability to attain that desire. Without first having hope, there is no faith.
The dictionary definition of hope is “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” For the addict, feeling that there might be a chance for a different way of life without drugs or alcohol is key to not only seeking recovery but maintaining it.
Five Strategies For Feeling More Hopeful
When facing addiction, it can be very challenging to muster up any hope at all. It can take some effort on the addicts’ part to be able to be even a little hopeful. But if they can do it, recovery is possible.
In most recovery programs, sharing and instilling hope in the participants is an essential element. Why? Because it gives them a reason to keep going forward in their recovery.
Without hope for a better life and better health, what would be the point?
1. Speak positive affirmations, preferably while looking at yourself in a mirror.
2. Accept wherever you’re at in life in the current moment.
3. Identify goals and desires for the future that are motivating to you.
4. Create a plan including action steps and defined deadlines for your goals and visions, using an accountability partner to help keep you on track.
5. Listen and share stories of experience, strength, and hope with others recovering from addiction.
Both listening and sharing our own stories help to instill hope in us, through hearing how someone else is succeeding in their recovery as well as acknowledging and being reminded of how far you have come in your own recovery serves to increase hope and self-esteem.
Resilience or “How to Get Your Bounce Back”
Resiliency, defined as the “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy”, is the third integral component to successful addiction recovery.
In simpler terms, it’s the ability to bounce back. And that ability is different for everyone. The more resilient a person is innately, the more likely they are to have a successful recovery process.
For a recovering addict, especially one that has hit rock bottom, there is a lot to bounce back from.
Many addicts have lost jobs and husbands or wives; are facing financial ruin, have damaged personal relationships with family and friends, have ruined professional relationships with bosses and colleagues, have to separate from their friends who are still using, and possibly the biggest issue – the loss of their health. That truly is a lot to overcome.
The road to recovery can be a rocky one, paved with detox symptoms, setbacks, challenges, fears, and lots and lots of unprocessed emotions in addition to dealing with past wreckage.
Recovery work can be very demanding, requiring a great deal of resiliency.
The good news is that if a person struggling with addiction truly wants to recover but doesn’t have the necessary resiliency to do so, it can be learned.
The Tigger Effect: Learning to Be Resilient
Learning to be resilient, which I affectionately refer to as The Tigger Effect, can be achieved through applying multiple methods. When you think of bouncing back, you can’t help but think of Tigger – nothing keeps him down. He’s the total opposite of Eeyore.
That’s what it’s like to learn to be resilient. You have to move from a place of being depressed and victimized like Eeyore to having the ability to accept any situation or challenge and know that everything is going to be ok, even if you don’t quite know how that will be.
So how do you implement The Tigger Effect to be a part of your recovery process? Here are 5 simple, resilience-building steps you can take today:
Prioritize Taking Good Care of Yourself: Ensuring you get plenty of sleep, eat foods that nourish your body, stay properly hydrated, and exercising regularly are just the tip of the iceberg. Self-care also means taking breaks as needed, going on vacations regularly, making time for fun activities like hobbies and quality time with family and friends. Most importantly, set aside at least 30 minutes each day for activities like meditation, prayer, walking in nature, connecting with animals, art therapy, and journaling to nurture yourself emotionally and spiritually. When you put your own needs first, you will find that no matter what life throws at you, you’ll be ready for it.
Write a Daily Gratitude List: I can’t stress enough how powerful an exercise this is to build resilience. It may seem hokey to some, but it really works. Writing by hand 10 things for which you are grateful each day (you can choose to do this either morning or evening), will put you in a place of feeling abundance and contentment no matter what challenges you are facing. If you are struggling to come up with 10, take baby steps. Start with 3 or 5 and then work your way up to 10. Keep it simple – breathing can be one. You can also be grateful for the same things every day, they don’t have to be different things. You’ll find once you get in the habit that the list flows easier.
Learn From Your Mistakes: For many struggling with addiction, just learning that it’s ok to make mistakes can be a huge factor in building resilience. Some addicts have come from abusive backgrounds where they were expected to be perfect all the time and mistakes were unacceptable. But the truth is, we all make mistakes. It’s what you do with the mistakes that can either keep you buried in the clutches of addiction or build your resilience to recover. If you can recognize, accept, and learn from your mistakes, you can keep moving forward in your recovery and your life.
Ask yourself how important is this, really? Resilient people are able to keep things in perspective. Often when caught up in the cycle of addiction, even once sober, the smallest of disappointments or unwelcomed surprises in life can seem overwhelming. Usually, this means there was something in your past that is triggering the present event and is actually unrelated. Learn to catch yourself (or have an accountability partner help you with this) when you are reacting to a situation and take a pause, long enough to ask yourself “how important is this?” It’s an exercise that can help build resilience over time as you become less reactive and are able to right size current events.
Accept change as a predictable part of life: The only constant in life is change. Resilient people know this and learn to go with the flow instead of resisting change. The more resistance you have to allowing change to happen, the more challenging it will be for the change to occur. But the change will inevitably occur. Sometimes we get so caught up in how we think things should be, we can’t see that the change might actually bring something even better. So ask yourself, do you want to be fighting life constantly, or do you want to have some peace and serenity on the daily?
Successful Addiction Recovery Can Be Yours
It is possible to successfully recover and maintain recovery from addiction. It is a life-long process that takes commitment and effort.The key components to recovery are faith, hope, and resilience and with them, you can recover.
Once you open the door to the possibility that your life can get better, you have truly begun the road to recovery. You may reach forks, bumps, and detours on the road, but you will get there if you persist.
VIDEO - Overcoming Addiction: Finding Hope Through Recovery
A powerful video describing the impact of addiction and the hope of recovery. The story of a multi-generation family from St. George, Utah who has been through years of the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse and now have found hope through the 12 Step Drug & Alcohol Recovery Programs. There is hope and a bright future for those who want it bad enough. The Hafen family has battled addiction and now are winning the war on addiction! This video is an inspiration and gives hope to everyone struggling with addiction as well as families who have been plagued with addiction of any kind. There is HOPE!
Chateau Recovery Can Help
If you want to understand how to build faith, hope, and resiliency and discuss staying with your recovery program, you can get in touch with the Hotline at our Recovery Center where trained and experienced professionals are available to assist you in every way.
The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with all of your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment.