Holding out hope for a loved one struggling with active addiction is challenging. So often we find ourselves constantly disheartened by their failure to achieve sobriety, to surmount the obstacles standing in their way of peace, health, and freedom from the bondage of addiction.

A cynical, dismal worldview can easily be developed when witnessing addiction rear its ugly, destructive head. Everyone who has been touched by this evil has experienced this; In this day and age of daily opioid overdoses, of the countless lives lost due to the disease of addiction, principles like hope and faith can be increasingly difficult to hold on to. But I firmly believe that hope lives on in the hearts and lives of those who get better, and the families and friends who bear witness to these miraculous transformations.

So how do we hold onto that? How do we spread that positivity, that message that addicts and their families can truly get better and heal in the face of such an insurmountable disease? The first step, I believe, is letting go. Figuratively and literally. In an unsurprising juxtaposition with the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous, I truly feel that recognizing your own powerlessness over someone actively using drugs and alcohol is the first step towards changing your entire life, the way you support that person, and true serenity. Now, as you can imagine, this is much easier said than done. And if there’s one thing I know with certainty, it’s that recovery in any form, whether its PALS or a 12-step program cannot be accomplished alone.

Through attending meetings, through discipline, setting boundaries, through making commitments to yourself and others, peace can be found. This has to begin with extending a hand out and asking for help. Through affiliating yourself with support groups, or in the case of the addict, 12-step meetings, you will without a doubt witness people succeed. You will witness men and women who once walked the streets with no means to speak of, IV drug users emptied of any semblance of vitality, grow into useful members of society with fulfilling lives. You will see broken family members, once wracked with guilt, depression, anxiety, helplessness, and various mental health issues restored to sanity, to a place of calm confidence in the hope and faith that people can and will get better. And more importantly, that same semblance of hope, even when they don’t. This is an experience that must not be missed.

When I was fresh in my recovery and working a program, I remember attending meetings and meeting people on a daily basis who were not only physically sober, relived of the mental obsession to drink and use drugs, but who were happy. They had peace. They had a lightness about them and a sparkle in their eyes that I instantaneously wanted to feel a part with. I can’t stress enough how vital this was to my own path of recovery. Of how witnessing others be relieved of their burdens inspired true hope in my soul. Here were thousands of people, living free, who were exactly like myself, who had been eviscerated by drug addiction, but now walked freely on the Earth through following a simple set of spiritual tools that is available to any and all who muster a grain of willingness to try something different.

I firmly believe in my heart that these same principles extend to family members and spouses of those who actively struggle. Create a culture of hope in your home today. Turn your time and attention to someone else who is struggling to let go. Surround yourself with the success stories. Pay mind to the fact that all around us, people are achieving a new way of life.

Someone once told me, there is recipe for recovery, and if you follow the recipe to the letter, you’ll get results 100% of the time. In my heart of hearts I believe that anyone can get better, regardless of the dire statistics that we are inundated with on a daily basis. Get involved with your local PAL meeting, become a part of something greater than yourself, take the suggestions of your fellows who have come before you, who’ve walked through the fire, and I guarantee you will find a newfound sense of hope and fulfillment that previously appeared out of reach.

Work to spread love and positivity, faith and hope, and stay the course in rough goings by leaning on your fellows. God won’t ever let you down, and you’ll come to a place of pure acceptance through due diligence and hard work. Even the sickest of us get better every day, all around the world. You can too. God loves you and I do too!

-Sean (in recovery)