Hopelessness and helplessness often go hand in hand with chemical dependency. Those feelings can be what lead someone to drug or alcohol abuse in the first place. Individuals trying to escape their emotions, current circumstances, or past events might turn to what feels like relief found in drugs and alcohol. Self-medicating with mood-altering substances is a false happiness that worsens the situation.
Once chemical dependency develops, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness grow. When not using, life becomes more depressing, and unbearable without drugs or alcohol. They become a larger part of someone’s life, effecting psychological, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. As the addiction latches deeper onto a person’s life, he or she might see it as inescapable.
Recognizing those feelings and the addiction are the first steps to recovery. On their own or with the help of loved ones, individuals with drug or alcohol addiction can overcome hopelessness and helplessness through addiction treatment. That spark of hope, that possibility of a better life drives a successful recovery.
Treatment is not a smooth road, however. Sadness, cynicism, entrapment, victimization and other negative emotions persist as an individual undertakes the challenge of conquering addiction. Coping with these emotions without reverting to substance abuse is the key to
finding happiness along the road to recovery. Turning to a support system of loved ones and professionals invested in your well-being is the best thing someone can do. They will not only provide emotional support, but also help an individual find the right tools and techniques to cope with the daily stresses of life.
If you feel hopeless or helpless in your recovery from addiction, here are a five steps you can take to combat those negative emotions, and resist the false escape of drugs and alcohol:
1. Talk to someone.
Whether it is your therapist, parent, sponsor, or friend, talking is one of the best things you can do. It allows you to acknowledge what is going on with you, release some or all of those emotions through venting, and, most importantly, reminds you that you are not alone and are very loved.
2. Move your body.
Exercise is an important component of everyone’s emotional and physical health, including those without chemical dependency issues. It is sometimes hard to find the motivation to engage in formal exercise or a focused physical activity. In those instances, something as simple as a walk around the block, washing some dishes, or picking up clutter can be enough to shift your focus outward and away from the more complicated things in our lives. The idea is to get you out of your own head and keep you occupied for a bit.
3. Pray or meditate.
Many people find strength in spirituality, and at the core of every religion or philosophy is the belief that we can all better ourselves. Some may find comfort by literally praying to God as he or she understands God, but the concept of prayer and meditation encompasses more than that. Some find clarity and renewal in chanting and stillness. Others find focusing on a particular thought or quote reassuring and encouraging. The key is to connect with your spiritual self and to see beyond yourself and beyond that particular moment. Whether it is a life philosophy, an organized religion, or simply your most positive concept of the world, reminding yourself of the bigger picture and how much possibility is around you can move yourself away from the cast of dark thoughts and feelings.
4. Listen to music (and, even better, sing along).
Music shapes our mood as naturally as it cultivates an atmosphere. While music that motivates you and makes you feel good is the ideal choice when you are feeling blue, there is also something to be said for listening to songs that echo the emotional place you happen to be. It can be cathartic to listen to sad songs, as long as you are not wallowing. Much like talking to somebody, commiserating music allows you to be honest about how you are feeling, to release some or all of those emotions, and reminds you that you are not alone. Singing along to a song not only has physiological benefits, but psychological ones as well. Studies indicate it reduces stress, may alleviate depression, and just quite simply make us feel better.
5. Lose yourself in a story.
A good story, fiction or non-fiction, can transport you into an entirely different time and place and once over, you emerge changed, in small or big ways. Also, stories are not limited to solely books. Movies, television shows, and theater all present opportunities for you to become captivated and fully immersed in another world. Depending on what you choose, a good story can illicit strong emotions, broaden your perspective, and allow yourself to forget your troubles in a healthy way.