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The Meaning of Recovery

Barak’s Lets Talk Corner: 

What are the things you find most meaningful to you? People often say that it is about creating or producing something new, caring for others such as their children and loved ones, investing in their relationships, doing something unique such as writing, drawing, going to travel in a place that holds special meaning, etc.

Meaningful things are also things that we work very hard for. Otherwise they have no value to us. For example, recovery. Think of how difficult it has been for you to hold on to your sobriety. The harder it gets and the longer your journey has been to keep drug and/ or alcohol free, the more likely you would not want give up your sobriety, because you worked very hard and had to overcome many obstacles to get where you are at today.

What about addiction and meaning? Addiction often blocks individuals from pursuing their life dreams (and recovery un-blocks the situation). Persons who use drugs and/ or alcohol often say that they “feel stuck” or “feel empty”; they also say that their daily routine revolves around drug and alcohol seeking behaviors, instead of directing energy toward achieving their dreams. Group and individual psychotherapy are great places to explore meaning and your life dreams. We know from research and experience that making recovery personally meaningful will increase the chances of your success.

Here are a few tips from some famous people on the issue of meaning:

Victor Frankl (Neuro-psychiatrist, Existential phillosopher, Founder of Logotherapy and Holocaust survivor):

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”

“Ultimately, a man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In other words, each person is questioned by life; and he or she can only answer to life by answering for themselves; to life they can only respond by being responsible.”


Henry Ford :

 “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” To win the game of life, you must believe you can. By doing so, you’re already half way there and the other half will come a lot easier. On the other hand, if you don’t think you can win, then no matter how hard you try to accomplish a goal, you’ll fall short of your potential…”


Alfred Adler (Medical Doctor, Psychologist, Founder of the psychology school of Individual Psychology):

“The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions,” i.e. it is important to believe in yourself and have the courage to do what is right.

“It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”

“What do you first do when you learn to swim? You make mistakes, do you not? And what happens? You make other mistakes, and when you have made all the mistakes you possibly can without drowning – and some of them many times over – what do you find? That you can swim? Well – life is just the same as learning to swim! Do not be afraid of making mistakes, for there is no other way of learning how to live!”


Helen Keller (Overcame the adversity of being blind and deaf to become one of the 20th century’s leading humanitarians):

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”


So, recovery from addiction is meaningful because you worked and continue to work at it every day; because it allows you to be a better parent to your children, a better partner to your spouse, a more supportive son or daughter to your parents, an asset to the company you work for, a true friend to your friends, a person others can depend on and look up to and in essence, allows you to use your own resources and potentials to the fullest and feel good about yourself

  • So, what do you think is most meaningful to you?
  • What can you do to start pursuing your dreams today?

Good luck on your journey to self discovery.

Barak Raz, MA, C. OACCPP,
Addictions and Trauma Therapist