I met a man the other day who had over 50 driving after revocation citations. He had been in jail 37 times. He told me that some of the incarcerations were short – only a day or two – and others were 30, 60 or 90 days. Because of his methamphetamine use disorder, he was back in treatment again for the 15th time. After so many times of falling down and struggling to get up, he had every right to be disheartened. But he wasn’t. He was upbeat, happy to be getting some help, and grateful for a safe place to begin again.
The Real Enemy
At first glance, it may appear that the substance abuse disorder is the major culprit blocking recovery progress and any hope of success. I believe the bigger enemy is discouragement. This silent and dangerous opponent looks for every opportunity to weaken your resolve, undermine your determination, and dissuade you from trying again. For some people there can be a temptation to surrender. You may be familiar with this cycle – get sober, relapse, get sober, relapse, get sober, relapse; ‘oh, I give up!’ It may appear hopeless and impossible, and as if your good efforts yield nothing. Or you may feel there isn’t anything that you do that makes any difference at all. And you may be tempted to think you should go ahead and just give up. It would appear that discouragement has the upper hand.
A Crack in the Wall
Our past failings appear to magnify our inabilities and minimize our potential. The circumstances that have blocked us in the past form a sizeable wall in front of us. Breaking down this wall is our challenge. Using this metaphor, each hammer blow against the wall moves us toward our goal. Every treatment effort, every meeting you’ve attended, every day of sobriety is another blow against the wall. And if you slip, don’t see it as “back to square one.” Don’t you dare wear the label of loser, hopeless, addict, or worthless. Rather than seeing your efforts as failure because the wall didn’t yet fall, realize that each subsequent hammer blow gets us closer to our goal. Don’t give up. Hit it again!
There is Hope
People get better. They face the truth, challenge their thinking, and make lasting changes. It is my desire to inspire hope, create a hunger to take another chance, and encourage the diligence and hard work it takes to grow to be the man or woman you are destined to become. Orison Swett Marden said, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.”
Breaking it Down
Don’t minimize the efforts you have made. The wall before you is beginning to crack. Hit it again! And as you do the wall begins to shudder and quake. Then the amazing thing happens. The wall that, at first glance, seemed to be insurmountable comes tumbling down. You obtain the long-term sobriety you dreamed of. It wasn’t magic, or a lucky hammer stroke, but rather the combination of determination, good support, and perseverance. Don’t grow weary and give up. Your efforts will yield the life you once thought was impossible.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!