The Importance of Purpose and Fulfillment in Recovery


I have been working with young adults with substance use disorders for the past three years. One thing that is apparent as I work with those affected by the opioid epidemic is that they struggle to stay sober because they lack a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

I believe that this lack of a sense of purpose and fulfillment is because many young adults begin their substance use in high school and do not go on to a career, trade school or college due to their escalating drug use. They often stop engaging in hobbies that once interested them and disconnect from healthy friendships and relationships with family members, choosing to spend their time using drugs with fellow addicts instead.

How to Find Purpose and Fulfillment in Recovery

If a person is seeking a better life, it is extremely important that they find purpose and fulfillment in recovery. To me, a sense of purpose is what gets a person up in the morning. For many, in their active addiction it was the need to drink or use. In sobriety, it can be a job, a commitment to a 12-step fellowship or even a volunteering commitment.

I look at fulfillment as what a person does in order to feel content with themselves at the end of the day. Many people never feel content with themselves during their active addiction. But by finding fulfillment in recovery, it is possible to feel content and even happy with oneself. Things like going to the gym, helping someone else and having relationships with other healthy people are all fulfilling parts of recovery.

Contributed by Shaylyn Forte, M.Ed., CAADC

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