A dangerous question for anyone in recovery to be asking is ‘what is the point?’ If this new life is lacking in real meaning and purpose, it will be difficult to remain committed to it. A drop in motivation usually accompanies loss of purpose, meaning that the person stops making any progress in recovery, instead becoming stuck and unhappy.
What Does It Mean to Have a Purpose in Life?
When individuals are caught up in alcohol or drug abuse, it becomes their purpose in life. The desire to get high becomes the reason to get up every day, and the person will usually spend most of their time either using, getting over the effects of using, or thinking about alcohol or drugs. It is a very shallow type of existence, but to the person who is caught up in the denial of addiction it can feel as if getting high or drunk is the purpose needed.
People need a purpose because it gives their life meaning. Life can be tough, so if individuals do not believe there is any benefit involved then there might not seem much point in going on. It is all very well telling those who are caught up in substance abuse that they are missing out on life, but a sober life without any purpose will not be an attractive proposition. It is often this fear of a future life in which there is no purpose that keeps many trapped in addiction long-term.
It is Easy to Lose a Sense of Purpose in Recovery
In the first few months of recovery, many develop a good sense of what they want from their future. This can be an incredibly exciting time and the person’s sense of purpose can be incredibly strong. The problem is that humans have a habit of falling into routines and it is easy to forget the purpose behind these routines; it can reach a stage where they no longer feel as if they are striving towards some purposeful goal, but more as if they are just going through the motions.
Modern living can be incredibly stressful, so it is understandable that individuals can be so busy doing things that they do not have time to reflect on the reasons why they are doing them. This is a dangerous way of life though as it is usually not long before the person feels that their life is purposeless and that they are just running to a standstill.
All people probably get periods where it feels as if life is lacking in purpose, but this way of thinking is particularly dangerous for those who are dealing with addictive behaviour. It only takes a few minutes of the ‘what is the point’ thinking for the purpose to feel justified in returning to alcohol or drug abuse.
How to Find Your Purpose and Keep it in Recovery
One of the things you need to understand about having a purpose is that this is not something somebody else can give you. It is a very personal motivation – some people find purpose in spirituality, some in their family, some in their career, and some in their hobbies. The fact that you have a purpose is probably more important than the exact nature of the purpose, although obviously a negative purpose for existing (like wanting to bully other people) would not be such a good idea.
A good way to remember your purpose is to clearly write it down on a piece of paper. Business people call this their ‘vision statement’, and it includes details of exactly what it is they are trying to achieve. It is easy to lose your way in life but, if you have a vision statement, it can be a way to get you back on course. You just have to ask if what you are currently doing is brining your closer to your vision, but if it isn’t, you know that it is time you changed course. It is important that you have your vision statement close at hand at all times so you can refer to it whenever you are feeling your life is lacking purpose. You should also be prepared to change the wording of this purpose as you grow and develop – it should not be written in stone.