Contributed by Roseann Rook, CADC, Clinical Addictions Specialist, Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center.
Two categories of drugs exist in the world today. The first involves those that are used to restore and maintain health or sustain life. These medications alleviate acne, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and keep diabetics alive.
Then, there is the second category. These involve getting high, coping with the challenges of life, altering one’s universe and reality. On the street, these drugs are called meth, cocaine, heroin, etc. In the pharmacy, they possess legal and legitimate names such as Adderall, Valium and, last but certainly not least, OxyContin.
While each category has to do with drugs, that is the lone similarity. Whereas the first group is there to help, the second group exists to destroy. They enter a person’s life with a temporary promise: I will provide what nothing else can; I will make your dreams come true. And of course, they do.
However, when the individual moves from recreational user to addict, the drug reveals the truth. The true goal is to steal all that the person has: identity, relationships, passion for life, health, hope and, importantly, the future. Often, the drug wins entirely and steals the person’s life.
Throughout the year, scores of women and girls enter treatment at Timberline Knolls due to drug addiction. Especially in the case of long-term dependence, a drug has already successfully stolen much of what is meaningful and valuable in life.
Sobriety Isn’t Enough After Stopping Chronic Drug Abuse
Separating an individual from their drug of choice is only half of the goal in treatment. Every person needs an identity and purpose. Prior to entering treatment, both were fairly clear: The person was an addict and their exclusive purpose in life was to sustain the status quo. Because sobriety creates a vacuum, therapy must work toward encouraging the person to feel good about themselves as well as restoring a desire to live.
Learning and embracing the 12 steps of recovery is an extremely important aspect of positive self-acceptance. Understanding lack of control over a substance and surrendering to a higher power doesn’t abdicate power, it reinstates it.
The person learns to forgive others as well as themselves, which releases them from bondage and leads them into new-found acceptance and freedom. This freedom serves as a building block for formulating healthy relationships in the future. The truth is human beings need to give love and receive love.
Which Methods Should Be Involved In The Recovery Process?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) not only offers the individual important recovery skills and tools, but gives them a new vision for the future. At the very core of DBT is the concept of living a meaningful life. This is specific to the individual. Whereas one might define a meaningful life as being a good parent, another might view it as honoring an innate talent and becoming an artist.
We establish early on in treatment what a meaningful life looks like to each resident. As they move into recovery, we encourage every person to hold each future decision up to this standard.
Often, what can help to reignite passion for life is the simple question, “What were you passionate about before you became involved with substances?” It could be as seemingly minor as hiking in the wilderness or playing soccer. Or, it could be as multi-layered as the desire to be a veterinarian.
Using drugs officially ended such activities or dreams, but that was only a temporary state. Once physical health is regained, hiking and soccer are certainly feasible.
Additionally, those in recovery must understand that there is not only one path to achieving a goal. A person may erroneously believe that she cannot be a vet now because she did not immediately enter college after high school. She did not “miss her chance.” It is merely delayed.
Achieving sobriety, practicing forgiveness, building positive relationships, pursuing a dream: All of these are important indicators of a positive future. However, establishing and sustaining true passion for life is typically associated with spirituality.
Reaching Out To A Higher Power
Connecting to a higher power, whether it is God or the universe, provides those in recovery with an entity that can be trusted. Often, this is the first trustworthy and non-judgmental relationship they have ever been part of. Additionally, walking in the firm belief that there is a higher power that truly loves, provides guidance and hope for the future is huge. Then, these individuals are not alone in their struggle.
Regardless of how long a person has been involved with drugs, recovery is possible. What’s more, with a newfound identity and purpose, recovery tools and support, and especially a relationship with a higher power that offers love, hope and forgiveness, true passion for life is more than possible.
Community Discussion – Share Your Thoughts Below!
What steps have you or your loved one taken to renew your passion for life? Is there someone or something that has impacted this passion? Please share your story in the comment section below.
About the Author:
As a Clinical Addictions Specialist at Timberline Knolls, Roseann Rook is responsible for conducting psycho-educational and process groups as well as providing individual counseling for addiction treatment, including co-occurring disorders such as eating disorders and mood disorders. She specializes in process addictions with a strong focus on relationship addictions. Roseann was instrumental in the development of Timberline Knolls’ Addiction Program and the implementation of addressing proces addictions into the curriculum.
As a member of Timberline Knolls’ Clinical Development Institute, she has presented locally and at national conferences. Roseann has worked in the addictions field since 1993, starting at Aunt Martha’s Youth Service as an addiction counselor before moving on to counsel MISA clients at Grand Prairie Services, followed by working for the YMCA Network for Counseling and Youth Development as an addictions counselor and crisis worker. She returned to Grand Prairie Services for a brief stint to develop and implement an outpatient program before joining Timberline Knolls in Illinois in 2006.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 11, 2016