Hope for Serious Mental Illness and Addiction Recovery

Serious mental illness and addiction can have a major impact on someone’s quality of life and their ability to participate in academic, professional, or social responsibilities. Mental illness and substance abuse can also impact someone’s ability to take care of their basic needs, making them dependent on others. These issues can lead to suffering for the individual directly impacted and their loved ones. Addiction recovery can seem a difficult feat.

Loved ones may feel scared, angry, hopeless, resentful, and extremely sad witnessing their friend or family member experiencing mental illness or addiction. These feelings can become intensified, depending on how long someone has been dealing with these issues.

It can be hard to remain hopeful when the symptoms of these conditions can be difficult to manage and may be destructive. This can also lead to hopelessness because recovery can seem impossible.

This may feel especially true if addiction recovery feels like a cycle of progress and regression. It’s normal to begin feeling hopeless or exhausted by this.

Hopelessness can make it more difficult to recover or make progress towards a greater quality of life [1]. However, hope can return and be sustained. People with severe mental illness and addictions can lead fulfilling lives. Here are a couple of ways to hold on to hope:

Confronting Stigma & Building a Network

Woman in addiction recovery looking ahead to the futureThere is a lot of stigma with mental health issues, including addiction, in American culture. This can create feelings of shame for individuals and families impacted by these conditions. Shame can lead us to feel that others may judge us.

Individuals with mental illnesses and addictions may experience this feeling, but so can their loved ones. Shame can lead to isolation [1]. Isolation can make these conditions worse [1].

There are millions of people in the United States who deal with serious mental health issues. Becoming aware of the statistics can decrease feelings of shame [2].

Joining a support group with other people or families experiencing this can also decrease the stigma. When we don’t feel like the only ones experiencing something, we are more likely to be hopeful. Also, support and a sense of community are shown to positively impact addiction recovery, regardless of the mental health issue [1].

Qualified Treatment for Addiction Recovery

Finding the right treatment is an important part of addiction recovery. Treatment from a qualified professional that has experience treating your specific mental health issue can be extremely helpful. Not all therapists have the same professional experience.

Researching different providers or treatment programs can make a huge difference. If finances are an issue, there are state and local services available for a variety of different mental health conditions.

Regardless of your or your families’ situation, there are resources available, and there is hope. Everyone has the ability to live a more fulfilling life.


[1] Hope, recovery and symptoms: The importance of hope for people living with severe mental illness (2017). Australian Psychiatry, 25(6), 583-587. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1039856217726693

[2] National Institute of Mental Health. (2018, January). Statistics. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/index.shtml

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on September 26, 2020
Reviewed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 26, 2020
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.