A drug and alcohol addiction takes more than it gives. Many people in active addiction can feel like they’ve lost a sense of purpose and the hope of regaining it. The following story proves that addiction recovery can restore the hope and purpose that we all need.
How a mother found hope and purpose after drug addiction
Before Leslie Thomas, 46, could help others she had to find hope, and a reason to keep living. Finding a purpose helped Thomas commit to her recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. With over seven years of sobriety under her belt, she uses her story and sense of purpose to counsel young women in early recovery at Hope Centers Ministries, a faith-based treatment facility in Hohenwald, TN.
“I’m here for a purpose, and only through living clean and sober can I live up to that purpose,” Thomas explained. “My purpose is to take all the ugly, all the hurt, all the pain and help somebody else.”
Death leaves an emotional void
Tragedy struck Thomas in 2013 when both her parents unexpectedly died three weeks apart. It was a devastating loss that left an emotional void and hardship Thomas tried to fill with alcohol, marijuana and crack cocaine.
“I’ve had serious separation issues, so I was concerned with being an orphan at like 34 years old,” she said. “When they say rock bottom, I had pretty much reached mine as far as family, finances and dreading to wake up each day because I absolutely had no hope.”
In the aftermath of losing her parents, Thomas found herself on the verge of losing her two children to Child Protective Services (CPS). She’d lost her home, failed multiple drug tests and was down to her last chance to find recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD).
“They told me I either had to get help or they would take them,” Thomas said.
To get treatment, she traveled to Hohenwald, TN, a town with a population of just over 3,500. This small community may be best known for being “The Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee.”
“I came here to go to rehab to keep from losing my children,” Thomas said. “Not because I wanted to come here to get clean, but just to not lose the two most precious things I had.”
How addiction treatment and spirituality work together in recovery
Like many people in addiction recovery, Thomas practices spirituality in her daily life to maintain hope and purpose. Spirituality is a common focus that involves submission to a “higher power” that can provide guidance on a personal recovery journey.
“For me, it was finding a connection with my higher power – my God,” Thomas said. “No longer was I dependent on man to fill my empty void inside, or to tell me what my worth and value was.”
Because drug and alcohol addiction can often block a person’s ability to think and feel a sense of purpose, Thomas said spending time in treatment helped her learn how to balance each part of her health and wellness to avoid triggers that could threaten her recovery.
“I had aspirations, and once the fog cleared after being in rehab for two, maybe three weeks, the final tipping point was there’s gotta be more to life than this,” Thomas said. “I wouldn’t have known that had I not gotten to a point where, OK, now that I don’t have the drugs in my body, what is it I need to do medically?
You gotta have all aspects of health and well-being in sync. Otherwise, as long as that one thing is off, you’re still right there on the verge of going back to what you don’t want to go back to.”
You don’t have to hit rock bottom to get help
If drugs and alcohol have caused distress in your life, don’t hit rock bottom before you ask for help. Talk to an addiction treatment professional who can help you recover and live a healthy, purposeful life. Call 888-448-0302 for more information on addiction treatment options. There are different levels of care that allow you to be as flexible or as intensive with your recovery as you need to be.
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