By Ned Wicker
We all want to have hope. Hope gets us up in the morning and drives us to achieve what we otherwise would just dream about. Hope allows us to keep going when circumstances are dire and there does not appear to be any opportunity of turning the tide. Hope is the expectation of something in the absence of empirical data. Hope is everything to the recovering addict.
The second step in the 12 Step process states, “We came to believe that a “power greater than ourselves” could restore us to sanity. That is an example of hope. When a person goes to a treatment facility, having come to a point in his/her life that requires a change in direction, it is out of hope that they submit to the program.
Hope is a key ingredient in motivating a person to move forward in recovery, knowing that there will be good days and bad, knowing that recovery is a process and not an instantaneous event, and knowing that with perseverance, a good outcome is achievable.
Hopeless is a destructive, but avoidable state of mind. Hopeless suggests that nothing can help, not even the most advanced medical intervention, not the love of family and friends, and not even the power of God. Hopeless is a form of denial. It goes right along with addiction, because nothing else matters in life, except to limit themselves to their addictive experience.
Once in the throws of the disease, hopelessness becomes the norm because alternatives are squelched. Even if someone wants help, there are a million reasons why nothing will work. No suggestion, no treatment option, no differing worldview is allowed to become a consideration because the diseased mind can’t comprehend the plan. Hopeless can’t see from beginning to end. Hopeless is giving up because the here and now is too difficult.
Sadly, hope is something others have long before the addicted person is able to grasp and accept what the others are seeing. “We came to believe…” implies a process, and the otherwise hopeless are giving a new lease when faced with the very real possibility of receiving help.
Hope is that little crack in the curtain that allows a ray of light to shine through. Recovery is possible if you are honest, open and willing, and hope is that openness to change. When we feel hopeless, it implies a resistance to change or a fear o what we don’t know. Hope takes that little crack in the curtain and throws it open, allowing the room to be filled with sunlight.
Hope is something we share with the hopeless. It is an encouraging word when someone is struggling. It’s an affirmation when others turn away. Hope says I am loved and cherished. Hopeless says “die because nobody cares anyway.” Hope is warranted because we are made in the image of God, and if God is true to his word in the Bible, we are not only allowed to have hope, but we are encouraged to have hope. In the absence of God, hopeless is, as I see it, certain. There is nothing beyond our own view.
Hope means believing in a possibility, even if we only have a scant sliver of faith that it will happen. You can build on hope by looking forward and allowing yourself to be cared for. You can also build on hopeless by doing nothing.
In that regard, hope is a little harder because it requires some effort. Hopeless has no standard, other than doing nothing and allowing nothing. I see hope as a more intellectually challenging and intellectually honest position. It discards denial and works with solutions. Hope has possibilities. Hope is the place to be.
Ned Wicker is the Addictions Recovery Chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital Lawrence Center.
He author’s a website for addiction support: Drug-Addiction-Support.org
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