I’m amazed by the stories I heard from recovering addicts during my recent interviews with these brave souls. What’s even more inspiring to me is how their wisdom translates not just to those battling addiction — more often than not, they’re filled with beautiful insight that I think people from all walks of life can learn from.

I’m honored to pass on a few important life lessons shared with me by brave individuals who have battled addiction — they truly offer enlightening observations we can all find inspiration in.

Even when you’re struggling, you can make meaningful connections with people

It doesn’t matter if it’s a recurring drug habit or a devastating divorce, one thing tends to hold true: when you’re going through a rough patch, it’s hard to imagine building meaningful relationships with anyone.

[quote_box_right]“One of the things in rehab they’ll tell you is that you’re not here to make friends — but you kind of are” [/quote_box_right] “I made a best friend there and we’ve been best friends for a year now. You need that contact, because that’s going to be your source to pick up instead of a substance.”

But as Sally learned, even in our most difficult times, there are always people out there who can empathize with what we’re going through. And sometimes that makes all the difference.

“I met a different group of people that I could relate to,” she said. “[My non-addict best friend] Jenna can’t understand or relate on certain things, but my friend from rehab can.”

You are in charge of your feelings — and how you let them affect you

During the course of her treatment, Wendy learned dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, which teaches patients valuable skills in learning to process emotions in a healthy and meaningful way. She said it helps her not only in times of crisis, but day-to-day, as well:

“The DBT skills definitely helped. It’s very rare I’m in a bad mood now, because I’ve learned how to turn my bad mood around.”

Now, she has the skills she needs to handle her emotions and react to situations in healthy ways — without feeling the need to turn to harmful substances to help her cope.

She added, “Now instead of letting myself be overwhelmed by negative thoughts, things just disappear. Things aren’t as bad as we make them. We tend to make huge deals of things that are really just tiny specks on the spectrum.”

Wendy is now nearly one year sober and paying it forward as a recovery coach. She works at Turning Point Recovery, Addiction Campuses’ Mississippi facility — the place that gave her the life tools she needed to live a clean, drug- and alcohol-free life.

You always have insight that can help others

It may not always be an easy fact to recognize, but going through even the worst events of our lives — and surviving them — gives us valuable experience that others can benefit from.

“That’s one thing I’ve learned in my first year of sobriety,” Lincoln agreed. He remembers how much he would have benefited from an insider’s perspective when he began his recovery journey.

“I reached out to so many people over the years that I hoped would help me, but they didn’t really know what I was going through. They just couldn’t relate to me,” he reflected. “It wasn’t until I got to the point where I didn’t want to do it anymore that I realized a lot of people are in the same boat.”

“Being in the trenches and through the ringer of addiction provides you the opportunity to help others going through similar experiences. A lot of people out there have trouble relating to others. I knew I could connect with other people who had been through the lifestyle I had.”

Sober for a full year now, Lincoln shares his story as often as he can in the hopes that he’ll inspire others.

“It’s really brought me a newfound love of life,” he said. “I’ve been through it all. I’ve been homeless, I’ve been fired from jobs — I’ve been through a lot of hard times. But it’s only been this experience of beating my demons that made me think, ‘I need to be doing something more.’ I feel so much joy in helping others.”

 

[quote_box_center]The truth is, we all go through difficult times. No matter the challenge, we can all learn from these wonderful lessons and implement them into our own lives. And in all of these stories, perhaps one message comes through clearest of all: it’s important — and well worth it — to never lose hope.[/quote_box_center]

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Cecelia strongly believes in the power of good deeds and recognizing great work. That’s why she created RecognitionWorks.org. The site is dedicated to connecting those who’ve been awarded for exemplary work in their communities to companies and organizations that can help them continue their admirable efforts through donations, sponsorship, and gifts. By making these connections, she hopes to build stronger, more altruistic communities and citizens.

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