What is Experience, Strength and Hope?

In recovery there are many clichés and phrases which are repeated often in 12-step support meetings. You may also hear these same phrases in a group setting typically found in an inpatient or outpatient treatment center. These clichés are often used frequently in recovery, because they mean a lot to the recovering person and are concepts that are believed to be easily grasped when repeated in settings like meetings or group therapy.
The simple phrase “Experience, Strength and Hope” refers to a topic or guideline that is typically delivered by a person who is speaking in a 12-step meeting or group therapy session. Using the topic of “Experience, Strength and Hope” for a meeting or group is a great way of keeping the focus on a positive message and can be interpreted in many different ways.
What “Experience, Strength and Hope” really means in a recovery setting can be broken down into a three-part message. The person who is speaking on this topic will typically give their experience in recovery, and then they will share what gives them strength in their recovery, followed by sharing some hope in recovery. The concept of sharing a message of “Experience, Strength and Hope” will likely sound different for most people, but it will give the same effect most of time.

Sharing Experience
An example of someone in recovery who is sharing their experience, strength and hope in a group may try and focus on first just giving their experience. This may be a story that shares about how the person got to a place where they were able to start their own journey of recovery. They may talk about what some of the consequences of their active addiction were or even some of the progression of their substance use. This concept of sharing experience in recovery is important to the newly recovering person, because it can show them that others who have been where they have been, are also able to get through their struggles.

Sharing Strength
After the experience part is shared in a recovery message, comes the strength part. This is typically where someone would focus on what gives them strength in their recovery so that others can learn how to do it for themselves. A recovering person who is sharing about their strength in recovery may talk what they do on a daily basis for their recovery or how they have gotten through tough times and not resorted to using drugs or alcohol during those tough times. A recovering person’s strength may look very different from person to person, but typically it can be very helpful for a newly recovering person to hear when someone shares how they can continue on in their recovery daily without using substances.

Sharing Hope
Lastly, after someone in recovery has shared their experience and strength, then comes when they share the hope part. This is typically when someone in recovery tells others about the positive changes that have come about in their life as a result of living a life in recovery. This may be when the person talks about physical, emotional and spiritual gifts of recovery, but they may also talk about goals and aspirations that are coming true for them now. People who are new in recovery can really benefit from hearing messages of hope, because at one time they may have felt completely hopeless about their own life.

Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope
The topic of “Experience, Strength and Hope” makes an ideal message for recovery group settings because the person speaking shares about their life in recovery in a format that takes the listener through a story of where they have been, what they are doing now and what can happen for anyone else. When people share their “Experience, Strength and Hope” it puts a message of recovery into a format that not only helps the listener, but also helps the person sharing.
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