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A Meaningful Life and Addiction Recovery

By: Carol Morriscey

Finding or creating purpose and meaning in life is an important part of a holistic addiction recovery process. What is a meaningful life? The World Health Organization defines “participation” as being involved in life situations. Such participation brings about satisfaction and meaning to one’s life. A sense of purpose and meaning increases quality of life and longevity and can act as both a protective factor for our health, and can help in the building a healthier life. In occupational therapy, participation in meaningful activities is used as a form of therapy for many avenues of rehabilitation. This concept can be applied to addiction treatment and recovery, as well.

Addiction is often preceded by a lack of meaning or satisfaction in one’s life. As such, drugs or alcohol are used to simulate a sense of meaning. During addiction, it is typical to label alcohol or drug use as the most meaningful thing in one’s life. Therefore, if meaning is not found outside of substance use, achieving and maintaining sobriety is extremely challenging. Finding or developing meaning in one’s life is akin to treating the root causes of addiction. Just as we treat underlying psychological and emotional causes of addiction, we must create a meaningful life in order to achieve a holistic and sustained recovery.

A difficult aspect of recovery is filling the void which drug or alcohol use has left. When meaning is sought and found outside of drug use, a meaningful life can be developed without the use of drugs. Therefore, drug use is no longer required to simulate meaning or purpose.

Searidge Foundation supports each patient in developing new, healthier habits and creating a life with meaning. Meaning can be found in countless ways and places. Participating in life events and activities in which you find purpose is a great place to start.

Personally, I find meaning through volunteering in my community, participating in activities I enjoy such as cooking and dancing, walking in Nova Scotia’s beautiful terrain, and spending time with my loved ones. Where do you find meaning in your life?

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers International Security for Traumatic Stress Studies The Canadian Positive Psychology Association The Association for Addiction Professionals