Most people entering treatment share one overarching goal: to stop using drugs and alcohol. That can be a daunting prospect and most people will tell you that’s too big of a goal to think about all at once. A better approach is one day at a time. This is a small example of breaking up a big goal into many small goals. Your first step might be to find a treatment center. Your next step might be to get through detox. Then after that, participate in treatment. Each phase is one step at a time. Beyond the common goal of staying sober, you may have many different goals. You may want to rebuild your career or patch things up with your family. Part of treatment is working with a therapist to figure out what matters most to you and how you set goals to achieve those things. Here are some reasons why setting goals is so important for recovery.
Goals give you direction.
Goals help you focus your energy. In recovery, as with anything else, there are endless different ways you can spend your time and energy. You have to make some choices, and having clear goals helps you do that. For example, we all want more money, but if your goal is to improve your relationship with your kids by spending a certain number of hours at home every week, having that goal written down will help you stick to that decision to go home a little earlier. It’s also easy to feel a bit aimless in recovery. Having something in mind you want to accomplish rather than just avoiding drugs and alcohol helps motivate you. A goal that you’re excited about, or at least committed to can help you get out of bed in the morning.
Goals make unpleasant things bearable.
You are going to face some challenges in recovery. You’ll have to confront some unpleasant memories and some parts of yourself you don’t like. You may have to have some uncomfortable conversations with the people you care about. You will certainly have to ride out some cravings. All of these things are much easier to do if you have a clear idea of why you’re going to so much trouble. What is it you really want that will make all of this discomfort worthwhile? If you have a clear goal, the obstacles aren’t such a big deal.
Goals give you a dopamine boost.
One reason people often struggle with low mood and depression early in recovery is that their brains haven’t yet compensated for the loss of the massive dopamine hits drugs give you. Dopamine is associated with reward and one way to get a dopamine boost without drugs is to achieve a goal, even if it’s a small one. Reaching daily goals and celebrating small wins is one way to offset some of the depression common early in recovery.
Goals are a way to measure progress.
Most people are tempted to measure their progress against their peers, but this is a good way to become discouraged and cynical. A much better plan is to measure your progress against yourself. When you set a goal and break it down into tiny chunks as necessary, you can mark these off as you achieve them. Even if you feel like nothing has changed since you started treatment, you can look at the goals you’ve crossed off and be proud of how far you’ve come.
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. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. 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.