“Where there is life, there is hope.” You may have heard that saying, but until addiction became a part of your world, you didn’t really get the full impact of the words. The words can be very real and very direct. But what is hope?
Hope is a feeling of expectation, a desire that something will happen, and a trust in a greater power that what you want will come to pass. In the world of addiction, it has a unique meaning because it isn’t hope that you’ll pass a class in school or get an A on a test. It isn’t about whether you’ll get the new car you hoped for or will see your girlfriend over the holidays, which you hope you will. No, when talking about addiction, hope is a thread that we hang on, dangling, praying to our higher power that we can make it through another day that our loved one won’t die, that we will not lose everything we have because of choices that are connected to mind-altering substances Free By The Sea
There are two reasons we don’t just walk away from our loved ones in active addiction. One is love, and the other is hope. If we didn’t love them, we wouldn’t tolerate the pain addiction brings to a family. If we lacked hope, we’d get out before the pain and destructive qualities of addiction took us down. For the addict, hope might be that they will, once more, have a family once they find recovery (or the mistaken belief that their family will be there when they are not in good recovery). In truth, if we really love them and have hopes for them, we need to walk away until they figure out that they need to find and live in recovery. And sometimes, for the family, losing hope gives the family the strength to walk away from the addict and get out of the way of their loved one’s recovery.
Too often, we are convinced that once an addict, always an addict. And the truth is that an addict will almost always have desires to use a mind-altering substance, but in recovery, they find the strength to avoid relapsing, often by avoiding the triggers. That’s when it’s most evident to everyone that it’s always up to them.
When a family member only sees negative things about addicts, they begin to lose hope in the addict ever finding recovery. But that isn’t true, as evidenced by thousands of people who have successfully beaten their addiction and gone on to lead productive and sober lives. Sometimes we just need to step aside.
People judge others by their own life experiences. Growing up, many people believed that druggies were “bad people.” They couldn’t understand why people would choose to be homeless, why they would drink and use drugs, walk around dirty and unkempt, and constantly beg. Most people were afraid of them, not because of a real threat, but because they were ignorant of facts. Once they begin to see that there were plenty of good people who were in a bad place, it becomes easier to offer them what they need to succeed in recovery. That could be helping to get them to rehab, bringing them to a support group, or just having faith. Some of the addicts want to get out of the rut they are in; others have yet to find the clarity to understand the need. But we hope for their addiction recovery and ours.