The Positive Psychology of Meaning and Addiction Recovery

The Positive Psychology of Meaning and Addiction Recovery is a collection of papers by leading authorities on addiction recovery. One of the perspectives in the book is that finding and developing meaning in life is fundamental to overcoming addiction.

As stated in the preface, "The high that those with addictions find in the experience of intoxication is ephemeral and doomed. Only the real high - the authentic happiness of overcoming life's challenges and achieving dreams - is potent enough to overcome the drug experience."

I highly recommend this book for professionals who want to learn more about helping clients find meaning and purpose in life. The writing is academic but assessable. Each article offers a different perspective on addiction recovery.

Assessing Meaning in a Clinical Population is one of the papers by Kimberly A. Miller and Darrell L. Butler. They state "...addressing a client's meaning in life should be an important focus of treatment, no matter what the diagnosis. If the previous research is correct, in that lower levels of meaning lead to manifestations of psychological distress, it is logical to conclude that addressing this unfulfilled area should ameliorate, if not eliminate, the symptoms of distress. Addressing these areas could include psychoeducational classes and focused group and individual therapy."

In A Meaning Centered Approach to Addiction and Recovery by Paul T.P. Wong, he describes the approach as a "restoration of the total person to wholeness. Treatment goals include not only recovery from addiction but also the restoration to fullness of life and reintegration into society." Dr. Wong goes on to discuss the PURE strategy of pursuing meaningful life, the ABCDE strategy for overcoming negativity, and a 5-step approach to restoring hope.

This book contains many more papers and articles that will be of interest to any clinician who wants to learn more about assisting their clients to overcome addiction and find meaning and purpose in life.

I think the theme of helping clients find meaning in their lives as a way to strengthen recovery and help protect against relapse is consistent with the principles of positive psychology. They are all strategies useful in encouraging the development and maintenance of long-term recovery.