How to Overcome the Feeling of Hopelessness

overcome hopelessness

Feeling hopeless is something that almost every alcoholic or addict will experience at least once in their life, and it is a feeling that can be infectious to every part of a person’s being. While feeling hopeless, a person’s health can suffer as they no longer care about working out or their diet. It can affect their relationships as they slip into a depression, seeing only futility in their attempts to reach out to friends. It can affect their jobs as they no longer care about what the future holds. It can also increase the severity of their alcoholism or drug addiction as the person begins to see no point in attempting to moderate and so they drink or drug themselves into a constant stupor to try to avoid their pain. If left unchecked it can even lead to suicidal thoughts as the person suffering can see no way of getting out from under the weight of their feelings.

It is really less of a feeling than it is an overall pervasive state, like a black hole for the spirit, drawing any joy into its gravitational pull and obliterating it. As much as many of us alcoholics and addicts are familiar with the feeling, it can still be very confusing to experience, even being difficult to discern what exactly we feel it about. Psychology Professors Anthony Scioli and Henry Biller wrote a book, Hope in the Age of Anxiety, where they discuss just this. In the book Scioli and Biller state that there are 9 different types of hopelessness and they offer solutions for how a person can overcome such feelings.

The 9 Types of Hopelessness 

Scioli and Biller write that each of the 9 forms that stem from a disruption of one of the basic needs that a person requires in order to feel hope.


This form stems from a feeling that the individual believes that they are different from other people and that they have been exiled in a sense,  deemed no longer worthy of love or support. The alienated tend to feel this way because they cannot see a future in which they are not cut off from others, which in turn causes them to close themselves off, causing further alienation.


Forsakenness is similar to alienation except that the person experiencing this form believes they have been abandoned at their greatest time of need.


Feeling uninspired can cause similar despair in people, especially if they are in a job that does not fulfill their need to create. Likewise, creative individuals who experience writer’s blocker or some other form of creative un-inspiration can begin to feel despair, thinking that they will never get their creativity back.


This category is interesting because it can be both the greatest liability and asset for the alcoholic or addict. An active alcoholic or addict who struggles with their powerlessness, in regards to drinking or drugging, will forever struggle with their addiction, but once the totality of their powerlessness becomes apparent to them, and they accept it, it becomes the bedrock on which their recovery is built.


Feeling oppressed, whether that be racially, socially, or relationally, can lead a person to feel like they will never be able to overcome their obstacles. In fact, that is part of the goal of oppression, to have the oppressed participate in their oppression through acceptance of its credence. In a metaphorical way, this is what alcoholism and drug addiction does. It makes the alcoholic or drug addict participate in their own oppression, by making them believe either a) the oppression doesn’t exist, or b) it isn’t that bad.


When an individual believes that their own personal skills are limited, or that they do not have enough of what is needed in order to succeed, they can begin to feel hopeless.


People experiencing this form of despair usually believe that their lives are over and there is nothing they can do to save themselves. It arises many times with individuals who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.


For the sake of what we are discussing self-captivity or self-imprisonment can cause feelings of defeat and pessimism, in that a person will keep themselves in a relationship or situation longer than they should because their sense of self is wrapped up in that relationship or situation.


People who believe that they are helpless and vulnerable can begin to feel hopeless, as they see no way of defending themselves, either physically or emotionally from the world.

How to Overcome Hopelessness

For almost all of these forms of hopelessness the answer to overcoming them is the same, get outside of your own thoughts and take an accurate look at the situation. This, however, is not always easy and sometimes it requires asking for help and having the aid of others who can more accurately appraise our situation for us. For instance, if you are feeling alienated or forsake, you may want to start by thinking are these things really true? Has everyone truly abandoned you? Most of the time the answer to this will be no, but if even you find that it is true, you need to think, did you push these people away, and if so why did you do that? By taking a more accurate look at the situation and then moving towards remedying the thing that is causing these thoughts and feelings, you can restore hope and thereby remove your feelings of hopelessness.

The same thing goes for people feeling uninspired, oppressed, powerless, captive, or helpless. It is so easy to jump to the conclusion that how we currently feel is how we are always going to feel. When the feeling of hopelessness washes over us, it is almost as if it blinds us to the ability to see any solution to our problems, and so we begin to think that we will always feel these ways and never be able to change. Rarely in life is this actually the case. So once again, when hopeless feelings arise we must take a look at our lives, and see what it is we can change or what it is we must accept in order to overcome our feelings.

Seeking Treatment in Order to Overcome Hopelessness

If you are currently feeling any form of these feelings mentioned above due to your drug addiction or alcoholism, don’t despair because there is a multitude of help out there for you. Remember that you don’t ever again have to feel the way that you feel right now, so call Coastal Detox today at 1-866-802-6848, and allow our trained professionals to aid you in getting the help you need.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.