Go Ahead, Get Super Passionate About Something

New research is validating what many of us have believed all along: one of the most powerful ways to fight addiction is to find something in life to get super passionate about.

I know that once I engaged fully with my passions, recovery was so much, well, easier. If I was to immerse myself in rewriting my novel, which is what I did, there was no room for crystal meth in my life. The more my writer’s passion grew, the less control ice had over my life. I chose life, not meth.

For most of us, freedom from meth doesn’t happen overnight. Quitting is not an “event” that occurs (voila!) and is done with. Quitting is a process — a sometimes long, sometimes slow process. It happens over time.

The question: How do we encourage and facilitate the quitting process? What actually helps us stay clean?

Today’s answer: Getting super passionate about something.

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When seeking your passion, try to think expansively. To my mind, it’s a “super passion” because the more passionate you are, the more likely you’ll not use again. And, remember, you can have more than one passion. Often passions overlap and combine to fulfill some greater purpose or function.

Here are some of the things I’ve known recovering addicts to get super passionate about:

School. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go back and finish a high school or college degree. Many a recovering addict has found her passion and a new direction by going back to school. A common thing I hear is that the passion for school — for growth, really — changes your life in ways you’d never dare imagine.

Recovery. Or maybe you’re super passionate about volunteering or working in recovery. You want to give back, help others like you were helped. You might immesh yourself in a 12-step culture like CMA or NA. Healing from your addiction, recovering, is something to be passionate about both for ourselves as well as others. For most of us, “recovery” has saved our lives.

Creation/Art. For some, this super passion is artistic — creative. Paint. Sculpt. Design. Create. Or, as in my case, write. By creating this website and blog, I combined my writing passion with my passion to help others. If not a traditional art form, your passion might be a performance art, like acting Shakespeare — or singing,  say, heavy metal. It’s about creation, tapping into that energy.

Service. In CMA, NA or AA, they encourage you to be “of service” to someone or something outside one’s own small sense of self interest. There are many “commitments” to fulfill at meetings, but there’s plenty of service opportunities outside of the 12-step world. Volunteer at an animal shelter or local community organization. Help a stranger, while expecting nothing in return. For some, service can become a new passion.

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Family. Your purpose could be as simple (and profound) as being the best dad or mom to your children as possible. I once worked with a middle-aged man from Texas whose passion for his daughter and wife was his tether to a meth-free life.

I remember that first year, when the cravings strike and my addiction raises its ugly head and whispers, “Come on, you deserve a little party — it’s just for one night.” It was my creative passion with the novel (and later, with my recovery writings) that put an obstacle  against me using again. You see, I knew that, every time I use, I distance myself greatly from fulfilling my passion.

What are you super passionate about? And how can you fill your life with more of it?

These are questions I encourage you to think deeply on and to incorporate into your own program of personal recovery.