Sobriety might seem like a magic word, but it is very simple in its definition. It simply means not being inebriated. Being sober means not using drugs or alcohol and committing to sobriety means committing to a better life lived without the mental haze and the constant craving that characterizes an addiction.
You get to live a meaningful life, lived with genuine experiences, rich relationships, and the possibility at feelings of fulfillment and content, the kind you would never experience through any drug for longer than a few minutes. Where drugs are ephemeral, achievements of hard work and dedication last years, and the love and kindness of your friends and family last for a lifetime.
But how does one go from concluding a rehab program to living the kind of life that’s truly “worth living”? Firstly, no matter what your definition of an afterlife might be, every life is worth living to the end. But to make life enjoyable and fulfilling, we need purpose. People spend their entire lives chasing after dreams and aspirations to try and realize their purpose, and this question is much more philosophical than it is empirical. Purpose is meaning – it’s having a reason to do the things you do. It’s having a reason for getting out of bed. But many people settle for a single definition. They struggle to find happiness because their tunnel-vision led them to believe they only have one purpose.
Being a parent is a purpose. Being a lover is a purpose. Being a good leader, a good team member, a good artist, a good worker. Some people are driven by their work, others are driven by a goal, others are driven by the good deeds they do at home and throughout their community. Some focus on their children, others focus on the world – yet in each and every one of us lies the potential to find a purpose for living, and pursue that purpose with perfect clarity – meaning, without straying from sobriety.
Why Purpose Matters in Sobriety
Addiction is the result of many factors, and always has a list of causes. Yet many people initially turn towards drugs because they’re aimless, or their aims are misplaced. As drugs slowly disassemble a person’s life and hope for the future, purpose gets lost and thrown away – to the point of deep depression. With recovery and rehab, sobriety gives a recovering addict the chance to pick up a new purpose and continue to stay sober.
Through purpose, we can find a clear context for the day-to-day. Through purpose, we endure hardship and struggle through challenges, because we know that it’s worth it, in our own eyes. There’s nothing religious or fanatic about it – purpose is the pursuit of a goal that gives us meaning, or the adherence to an identity that gives us meaning. And by pushing forward, day after day, recovering addicts can ignore temptations and leave behind their days of addiction because they’re focused on living a better, much more meaningful life.
Purpose helps us be accountable to others, responsible for our own actions, and encourages us to strive for success in whatever shape or form we define it. But as much as purpose is what helps us drive through every hardship, we need to remain open with our perspective. Keeping a closed mind to other opportunities and losing sight of the potential meaning in our lives because of a failure is not a good way to live.
Take two children who grow up as dreaming athletes and arrive on the regional stage. Both fail to qualify as national athletes, and both try again and again. One succeeds, and their hard work helps them fulfill themselves. But the other doesn’t succeed. Does that mean they’re invalid? No. It means they need another purpose. We can’t always succeed, and none of us really know what we’re supposed to do until we actually set out to do it and find out if it’s the right thing or not. It’s up to every single individual to figure out when to push on and when to give up – and much more importantly, it’s up to each and every one of us to pick up the pieces and find another purpose after failing.
As a contemporary example, take actor Dwayne Johnson. A talented athlete, he aspired to become an NFL star, but never made it due to an injury that sidelined his career. Determined to figure something else out, he pushed his father to train him as a wrestler, as per the Samoan family’s long tradition. He eventually had his road to fame through the WWE and continued his success in Hollywood. Very few people have the luck and the circumstances that eventually led to the creation of The Rock, but everyone has the ability to overcome their challenges, work through their shortcomings, make use of their talents, and find a purpose in life that brings them happiness and fulfillment – no matter where it may be found.
Addiction is a terrible disease to struggle with. It eats its way into a person’s mind and changes the way they think and feel. To deal with the long-term effects of addiction, you not only have to abstain from drugs and alcohol – but you have to find meaning in your life. Seek it out among your family, at the workplace, or on the field. Find your passion, your drive, your meaning. Go to classes. Try out what interests you. Hard work may not be worth what it used to be, but we can all afford to live purposeful lives, if we adjust our perspective and find the right path.
Sober Living and Purpose
Sober living communities are excellent for people coming out of rehab or for recovering addicts struggling with a relapse, because sober communities are based on social accountability and responsibility.
When you live in a sober living community, you’re accountable toward others. Tenants in a sober living community share responsibility for said community, and have to keep their living spaces clean, while sharing chores to keep the common area presentable and hospitable to all.
Every tenant is also required to go to work or school, or actively seek employment. These rules are meant to help ease tenants back into what sober living initially means – being part of a greater whole, a society where you contribute and share in the benefits of your combined contribution.
From there, you’re encouraged to seek out your purpose, and engage in any activities that might interest you. Without addiction, the chains are off, and life is open to you.