Factors Facilitating Recovery: Involvement in Meaningful Activities

Another important factor facilitating recovery involves the development of valued social roles through involvement in meaningful activities. Through these activities, recovering people gain a sense a purpose and direction in their life—they find a niche in the community. 

These meaningful activities may involve employment or volunteering, engagement in hobbies or other leisure activities, or connecting with other organisations or groups. Employment is a central way in which people can achieve more meaning and purpose in their lives and is therefore a key pathway to recovery. As described in a previous post, impacting on the lives of other people in a positive manner, ‘giving back’ as it is often called, is also important for personal recovery.

Ian and Irene decided to set up a support group for parents and carers and this initiative not only helped other people, but facilitated their own recovery journey.

‘… it occurred to us one night that what we could do would be to provide what we had wanted when we first discovered Robin’s addiction to heroin. Quite simply, someone to talk to, understand what we were going through, be non-judgemental, have a knowledge of drugs and addiction, and be able to act as a signpost to further help.

And so, on another cold November night, CPSG (Carer and Parent Support Gloucestershire) was conceived….

… What our experience has given us is a great insight into, and an absorbing interest in, the substance use and recovery field. We’ve been able to translate our knowledge and understanding into a service that provides help for those people (particularly family members) who have been affected by another person’s drug or alcohol use. Our ongoing work has not only been rewarding, but has also been a major factor in our own recovery.’ Ian and Irene

Iain describes the importance of engaging in a variety of different recovery-based activities.

‘Hundreds of people came to our first annual RAFT event and the feedback was absolutely amazing. I got the same positive feelings at this event that I got with RAFT each week, but multiplied by about a thousand. I also felt like this after the Annual UK Recovery March in Glasgow in 2010.

During the early stages of RAFT, I was introduced to the Wired In To Recovery online community. I started blogging about RAFT on Wired In To Recovery every week, either at the event or at home straight afterwards. I immediately found this blogging to be a great way to air my feelings and thoughts in a safe manner, whilst receiving thoughtful comments from people around Scotland and further afield. This was all extremely helpful to me.’ Iain

Many people in recovery describe the importance of believing in something spiritual, having faith in a higher or transcendent power. Spirituality, religion, or belonging to a faith community, represents important pathways to recovery for some people. Kevin felt that God was involved in the early stages of his recovery when he visited Livingstone’s rehab:

‘When I visited, I straight away decided that I didn’t want to go. It was a Christian rehab and I wasn’t a Christian. Tom, who runs Livingstone’s, asked if I wanted to have a look around anyway, so I did.

All of a sudden, a very alien, but comforting sensation, came over me. I knew beyond all doubt that it was God showing me what my life could be like if I chose to follow him. I felt at peace. I felt happy. The weight lifted off my shoulders. I was back to how I remembered feeling as a kid. I knew this was the place for me….’ Kevin

The pleasures and rewards that come from engaging in meaningful activities help foster a sense of agency, a self-belief that the person can impact on their own life. Sense of agency is closely related to empowerment.