Waiting is hard. Lately, it seems that all we do is wait. We wait to see what our new CoVid reality will look like. We wait for the financial/employment ramifications of the shutdown. We wait to see our friends, family and neighbors again. We wait for the results of the upcoming election. We wait for it to seem like life isn’t on hold anymore. The uncertainty leaves us exhausted, weary and perhaps in despair.
How we handle the waiting depends at least in part in hope. Hope can mean various things. Hope can be a wish. “I hope it won’t rain today.” This hope indicates what we think should happen, even though we have no control. Hope can be an intention or motivation. “I hope I can complete this task.” This hope shows what we are working towards and believe we can accomplish. Hope gives us courage to keep going, protecting us from fear and anxiety. Hope gives us purpose and motivates us to go on. Hope shapes the way we live and the decisions we make. Lack of hope can cause us to feel stuck, unmotivated, and purposeless.
Currently, the world seems unstable and unpredictable. It is easy to become discouraged and fearful, feeling alone and isolated. Often people lose hope because they don’t think their situation will ever change or be different. They feel as if they have run out of options and there is no reason to keep trying.
As hard as it is for us to remain hopeful in this challenging time, it is especially important for those in recovery. During this time of quarantine and isolation, there has been an increase in substance use and mental health issues. Isolation, uncertainty, and lack of hope have had devastating effects on many in recovery. As a friend told me recently, “People in recovery are struggling right now. …The quarantine has caused a lot of relapses, even in strong people.”
So what can we do to assist our friends in recovery post quarantine? We can offer them hope. Hope is a powerful force in the recovery process. It is the belief that recovery is possible. The more hope a person has the more likely they are to begin and sustain recovery. If our friends in recovery have experienced a setback, we can encourage them that this is only a misstep and not a Grand Canyon fall back into addiction. We can be a positive force in their recovery by not giving up on them. Being with hopeful people, instills hope in those around them. We can help them recognize possibilities and steps forward that they may not have considered or can’t see them on their own. Our words and attitudes let them know we do not consider them to be beyond help. Even a simple smile, phone call or text can offer encouragement and strength. Recovery is possible and you can be a part of it. There is hope.
Lynn Saylor is the AmeriCorps member working with the United Against Opioid Abuse Initiative alongside the White County United Way. She is a major facilitator of the United Council on Opioids serving White County and a regular contributor to local media.