Does your life have a purpose?
Are there things you care about or you want to achieve in the future?
If you answer yes to these questions, then you will work hard to achieve your goals. And it doesn’t matter what goal you have – whether it is to make it to heaven, protect the environment, raise your kids well, or accumulate knowledge. Having a big goal will bring some meaning to your life. Early schools of clinical treatments have focused on providing people with a purpose in life. In his famous book “man’s search for meaning.”, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl argued that if you have a purpose in life, you may not have psychiatric problems. After all, the meaning of life comes from having a goal or purpose, like helping the poor, doing scientific research, saving animals, worshipping a god, or taking care of the environment. Several studies have shown that people who have a purpose are usually not impulsive. Their purpose makes them work harder for that future goal. Many addicts are impulsive and do not look too far into the future, which is mainly because of their lack of life meaning.
Based on Frankl’s book, Professor Lisa Harlow, from the University of Rhode Island, devised the Purpose in Life questionnaire. It has questions like
“in life, I have no goals or aims at all”,
“my personal existence is utterly meaningless and without purpose ”,
“life to me always seem exciting”
“My life is empty filled only with despair”,
“If I could choose, I would prefer never to have been born”
And for each of these questions, you can indicate your answer on a 1-7 Likert scale. When giving this scale to heroin-addicted patients, 82% of them answered 5-7 in “in life, I have no goals or aims at all”. 84% of them answered 1-3 in “life to me always seem exciting” For them, life is not really that exciting and they don’t really have any goals or plans.
Once you lose your purpose in life, you may become depressed. If there is no point living, you won’t have any motivation to do anything. Everything will be a burden. And instead of planning for a career, a family or some other life goal, taking drugs is the easy way out. It is not surprising then that 65% of addiction patients have depression. And almost 47% of patients with depression abuse drugs. Depression and drug use often go hand in hand.
Losing meaning might place us at risk. If you find yourself lately losing hope, zest, meaning… pause and reflect. If you struggle with finding meaning, please, get help.