hope dealers

What is a “Hope Dealer?”

Glad you asked, because like many things in addiction recovery, the answer is a simple one that belies a vast and lovely ocean of information beneath the surface.

What is a Hope Dealer? It’s us. It’s you. It’s anyone in these uncertain times who can share a message of experience, strength and comfort when the present is so fluid and the future so uncertain. And right now, that message is more urgent than ever.

According to the Worldometer, the number of infections, worldwide, of COVID-19 — a.k.a. the coronavirus — is approaching 360,000. More than 15,000 people have died. And the global pandemic shows no signs of slowing down. More than 5,000 of those deaths are in Italy alone, and while the death rate in America is roughly 1.3 percent, officials expect the crisis to worsen this week.

hope in the time of coronavirusStates have instituted shelter-in-place orders. Non-essential businesses have been ordered closed. Medical officials fear that their resources will be stretched beyond capacity. Grocery stores are facing shortages as consumers panic purchase food items in expectation of a disruption in the supply chain. It is, without exaggeration, a time of great chaos, instability and — worst of all — fear.

Addicts and alcoholics live with a certain threshold of fear regardless. We don’t always realize it — most of the time, it’s a low-level hum that’s so omnipresent, we don’t even notice until it’s gone … but it’s always there. Will we have enough drugs to keep from getting sick? Will I be able to get through work without a pull from a bottle in my glove box? Is today the day I get caught? Is today the day I can finally quit?

Is today the day this damn disease is going to kill me?

The worst part? The absolute gut-wrenching twist of addiction’s knife? When that fear leave us completely, and we’re no longer afraid of dying, because we’re so tired, so sick, so absolutely exhausted by what it takes to maintain our disease, that we kind of hope we do.

Except … we don’t.

Not really. It’s not death we hope for; it’s an end to the pain and the misery and the dereliction and the degradation that are our constant companions. Coronavirus? Whatever concern we have about it takes a backseat to the fear we feel that it may disrupt our ability to drink and use — not because we want to, but because by this point, we have to. We’re in the grips of a chronic, progressive and fatal disease that has hijacked our minds, poisoned our bodies and laid waste to our spirits, and we have no choice but to continue on to the bitter ends.

For some of us, COVID-19 is an excuse to give in completely to addiction’s dark embrace. What, we wonder, is the point? If society seems to be collapsing and a virus is disrupting everything, why not go all in? If it’s every person for himself (or herself), why not just give up? Life in addiction seems to be a pointless endeavor when there’s not a plague upon the land, and now that there is, whatever flicker of hope we may have had is on the verge of being extinguished.

hope dealersThat’s where we, as Hope Dealers, come in. At Cornerstone of Recovery and our sister facility, Stepping Stone to Recovery, we’re in the business of nurturing the flames of life out of those dying coals, until optimism becomes a beacon against the encroaching darkness. Hope is our commodity and the reason for our existence. It’s not a thing we package and sell from a shelf. It doesn’t roll off an assembly line, nor do our employees work on a factory floor to produce it. It doesn’t come in in a pill or a shot of a bottle of medicine, and it’s not found in a book, although there are many books written about it.

It’s the reassuring voice on the other end of that initial call to our Admissions Department. It’s the smile of the receptionist who greets you upon your arrival. It’s the soothing tone of the nurses in Medical Detox, the steady guidance of the counselors in Assessment and Orientation. It’s the housekeepers and the groundskeepers, the counselors and the therapists, the kitchen staff and the folks in accounting. It’s the reward of watching broken individuals who are reflections of the addicts and alcoholics we used to be transform.

It’s seeing them leave our care after 30 or 60 or 90 days as human beings again, filled with the promise of a life they never thought possible, ready to go back into the world to be a Hope Dealer themselves.

We are all Hope Dealers — those of us who work here, and those of you out there. Remember: A recovering addict or a sober alcoholic with one day clean and sober can share a little hope with those who have none, and so as we launch this ongoing video series of the Hope Dealers on staff here at Cornerstone of Recovery, we want to encourage you: Film your own message of hope.

You don’t have to write out a script. You don’t have to think long and hard for profound inspiration. You don’t have to identify with a specific recovery program. You don’t have to mention Cornerstone or even be affiliated with Cornerstone. You just have to have a little bit of hope, and the willingness to share it.

It is, in a sense, a way of getting involved in service work. Remember the Fifth Tradition of our programs — to carry the message to those who still suffer. There are a lot of folks suffering right now, from both addiction and fear, and a message of hope might help them hang on another day.

Please, find us on social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram — and share your stories with us. Share them to your own pages. Hashtag it #HopeDealer, so we can find one another. And ask your friends, followers, fans and families in recovery to do the same.

Let’s start a trend. Hell, let’s start a movement. Let’s be the Hope Dealers that the world needs right now.