Three Simple Ways I Help Hope Grow

Inspiration for Your Journey

Early in my recovery, I heard a meeting speaker half-apologetically introduce herself as "a garden-variety alcoholic." She went on to describe a journey that, in many ways, paralleled my own seemingly unremarkable path.

To be sure, my alcoholism produced plenty of wreckage. But it wasn't the spectacular, crash-and-burn sort that made for a captivating storyline.

Or so I thought—until this woman shared her plainspoken truth, and it went straight to my heart. Her story validated my struggles and my experience. I didn't think I had much to offer others in recovery, but maybe I did? Maybe by sharing my own garden-variety recovery story, I could provide that same gift of reassurance and hope to a fellow traveler.

Whether you think your story isn't very exciting—or maybe a little too exciting—I can pretty much guarantee others will find a seed of wisdom or strength in your words. As we are reminded in "The Promises" of Alcoholics Anonymous, "No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others."

To me, that's the beauty and essence of recovery. Through our recovery, because of our recovery, we have a unique way of helping others—of giving back and growing hope.

Garden-variety or otherwise, our recovery is a gift to be shared. Here are three simple ways I choose to give back.

  • Tell My Story—It still makes me a little nervous each time I speak before a group, but I want others to know that treatment works, relationships heal, recovery lasts, and life gets better.
  • Welcome Newcomers—Recovery is a whole new world to navigate (remember?), and I certainly needed others to help me get acquainted with my local recovery community. It's a privilege to play that ambassador role now.
  • Send a Check—The cost of addiction treatment is a major roadblock for too many people who need help. I routinely make a financial donation to my favorite nonprofit treatment center to help fund patient aid. Every check I write is a little prayer of gratitude for my recovery.

And that's how my hope grows.

Nell HurleyNell Hurley is the executive director of national alumni relations for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
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