Finding Passion and Meaning in Recovery

Passion and meaning are fundamental principles to a thriving life in recovery. Sobriety is more than abstinence from drugs and alcohol. It is about becoming a well-rounded human being. Like many of us, I was born doing everything at 100 percent. Throughout my life, my attitude has always been that more is better. This approach to life serves me well in many ways, but it has also hurt me. I can’t remember a time in my life where there has not been excitement and passion for someone or something. I can easily attach my identity to something outside of myself.

When I was young, it was skateboarding and then music. As an adult, I began running. It started as a way to get into shape. Next, I was running marathons. When 26.2 miles wasn’t enough, I ran 50-mile races. Eventually, I found myself running 100-mile races, and my new identity was Husband, Father, and Ultra Runner. Every waking moment I lived for my family and my next trail race. My life was filled with passion and meaning. As my addiction progressed the things that gave my life meaning all became secondary to my addiction. Eventually, all of the excitement and passion in my life was redirected to using drugs and alcohol. By the time I asked for help, the things I loved the most were nearly abolished altogether.

Early in my own recovery, I was given the advice, “Find a way to build a life that you are unwilling to jeopardize by using drugs or alcohol.” Achieving this is a process that involves action and a willingness to explore our core values. Early recovery is difficult, but we do not have to do it alone. It begins with the little things each day. Ask yourself, “What is my passion?” It may be family, mountain biking, running, art, or working the 12 steps. It doesn’t matter what it is. The beauty of recovery is that we get to start over. I often challenge my clients to take the passion they had for drugs and alcohol and put it into something that will actually make their lives better.

Here are some ways to begin exploring your passions.
  • Make a list of what is important to you or what you value.
  • Make a list of steps you will need to take to make these values a priority.
  • Set goals that include timelines to try something new.
  • Share these experiences with others and never stop learning.

Every day in recovery we have the opportunity to experience the world without the fog of drugs or alcohol. Through the good days and difficult days, we can choose to remember what gives us meaning. I have rediscovered the things in my life that I almost lost completely. My connection to them has changed and they are meaningful in different ways. My identity is no longer tied to external hobbies or people. I get up each day and do my best to be a good man. Every day is an adventure with ups and downs. The tools I have learned in recovery have given me this gift. We all deserve to live a life full of passion and meaning.

Are you taking action to make the things that are important to you a priority? How can you find passion and meaning in your own recovery? One way to do this is to find a way to build a life that you are unwilling to jeopardize by using drugs or alcohol.

About the Author

Rich McDonald, MS, CMHC, is Wasatch Crest’s Clinical Director. As the leader of Wasatch Crest’s clinical program, Rich has created a clinical culture that empowers clients to rewrite their stories and develop meaningful lives. Rich brings over 25 years of leadership experience and ten years working in the recovery community.

Leading with respect, accountability, and acceptance, Rich embodies Wasatch Crest’s human-centric treatment approach. He’s passionate about incorporating nature into recovery and is dedicated to helping clients build lives worth staying sober for.

Rich is an avid trail runner, and has successfully competed in many marathons, ultra marathons, and 100-mile trail races.






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