As with any endeavor, half of success in addiction recovery is just avoiding the pitfalls. You can do a lot of things right, but if you make a big enough mistake it could set you back pretty far. The good news is that most mistakes in recovery are easy to avoid if you know what to look out for. These aren’t the only problems that might derail your recovery, but they are common mistakes that you have some control over.
One of the biggest dangers people face is when they’ve had some success in recovery, they’ve made it through treatment, they’ve stayed sober for maybe eight or 12 months, and they start to think, “I have this addiction thing beat.” That’s usually when the trouble begins. They start thinking maybe they can start using in moderation. They think maybe they don’t have to go to meetings, or they can get together with friends who still use. It usually takes about five years for recovery to be on solid ground, and even then it’s not a sure thing.
Some people have the attitude that alcohol was never their problem, but rather cocaine or painkillers or whatever else, so it’s no big deal to have a drink now and then, or possibly even use marijuana. This is a bad idea. Although alcohol may not have been your primary problem, it can still be a powerful trigger. Most people also drink when they use their problem substance and drinking can cause powerful cravings. Alcohol also diminishes judgment and self-control, potentially leading you into more dangerous situations where you are more likely to relapse.
Spending time with the same old people
Making new friends can be hard and people sometimes end up hanging out with the same people they used to drink or use drugs with, sometimes in the same old places. People and places are powerful triggers and you are better off avoiding them.
Expecting too much too soon
People often become disillusioned after several months in recovery because they expected something better. As a result, they might become cynical and stop doing whatever has helped them stay sober. It’s certainly reasonable to expect life to improve when you get sober, but life is never perfect. There will always be problems. After only six months or a year, you may still be dealing with the fallout from addiction. The biggest advantage of sobriety is that you stop making new problems for yourself. Life will definitely improve, but it takes time.
Comparing yourself to others
No one starts in the same place, no one has the same addiction history, and no one has the same problems. Comparing yourself to others only gives you either false confidence or needless insecurity. It also creates divisions between you and others in recovery. It’s much better to think of everyone being on the same team.
Having a strong sober network is one of the strongest protective factors against relapse. You may not always feel like being around people, but having that connection reduces stress, makes you feel more accountable and helps distract you from your own problems. Isolating yourself, on the other hand, makes you more prone to loneliness, depression, and cravings.
Worrying about the future
There’s a reason “one day at a time” is popular in 12-step circles. Worrying about the future is a sure way to ramp up your anxiety. You can’t stay sober for all time; you can only stay sober right now. Thinking that you have to stay sober forever puts a lot of extra pressure on yourself. It’s good to plan for the future, but when it comes to recovery, you already have a plan. You just need to follow it.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.