The road to recovery is long and painful. You may trundle along for six months to a year thinking you’re not doing too badly, and then suddenly you have a relapse. Stay on track with your recovery by taking note of these five crucial, but commonly overlooked mistakes.
1. Not Abstaining Completely
You hear people talk incessantly about how they once drank or drugged to excess, then sobered up after a bad experience, and now take only the occasional drink. You are inspired by these stories and feel you can also drink occasionally. But these people were most likely not addicted, that’s why they can now drink moderately. Real addiction doesn’t slow down or disappear with moderate drinking, even if you switch to a less potent drink or drug. What starts as an occasional indulgence will build up until you’re back to full blown addiction. It’s better to shun all forms of drugs and alcohol if you want to stay on track.
2. Rejecting Professional Help and Support
You believe you can go it alone so you build a protective shell around yourself, keeping out the recovery experts, your family and your peers. But withdrawal symptoms are often difficult to bear in isolation. You need to stay connected to your support base. It will help you get through the tough times and maintain your sobriety. A therapist will tell it to you straight and the message will be reinforced in your support group meetings. Family members are also a crucial support arm. It’s a difficult time for them, too, and you need to draw strength from each other.
3. Believing You’re Cured
There comes a time when you feel you’re cured and can step away from recovery. It’s been three months, maybe even three years, and you’ve never faltered. But the struggle against addiction is never over. You are never cured. Your self control and focus are admirable but they do not signify that your addiction has gone for good. It’s still there, under the surface, and any loss of focus will bring it back. So it’s important to remain vigilant and continue with the activities that have sustained your sobriety such as your support meetings, your therapy sessions, and your eating and fitness regimes. You’ll forever be in this recovery mode.
4. Obsessively Monitoring Your Progress
Any little achievement in recovery is great, but excessively monitoring it will only leave you drained. Eventually you won’t see any appreciable improvement, and hopelessness takes hold, ending in a relapse. You have to once again accept that your recovery schedule is with you for life and you have to relax into it and take realistic steps. Don’t allow yourself to be put out by someone else seemingly making steadier progress. Each recovery process is unique. It depends on the nature of the addiction. If what works for others doesn’t work for you, find something that does.
5. Remaining Locked in the Past
Staying trapped in the mistakes and disappointments of the past sets you up for more and more failure. You feel no joy or sense of purpose in your recovery program and may let it slide. That’s why you need therapy and support to address these self-defeating thoughts and realize that you have worthwhile choices ahead. Find new and regular ways to distract yourself – reading, doing chores, listening to music, or anything that gives you respite and helps you to appreciate the present.
It’s OK to make mistakes in life but we need to spot them and make changes where necessary. Recovery and life in general, are filled with challenges but it’s our willingness to spot them and learn from them that enables us to continue being successful.