7 Common Mistakes That Can Derail Your Recovery
Help staying on the path to sobriety
Some struggles in life are temporary. If you fight hard enough, you can solve your problem for life and never have to deal with it again. But other struggles aren’t like that. You have to work to get into a position where you’re above your problem, but there’s no permanent solution or cure. Instead, you have to stay strong in the face of issues that can come up years or even decades later and threaten to derail you.
Addiction is a chronic disease. It can be beaten, and many people have recovered and maintained their sobriety permanently. But in order to accomplish a lifetime of sobriety, it’s important to stay vigilant for common mistakes which can knock you off your path. These are seven common mistakes to watch out for as you build a happy and sustainable life through recovery:
Trying to Recover Alone
It’s hard to stay away from a substance you’re addicted to. When your brain is caught up in addiction, it forgets about all the consequences on your health, relationships, livelihood, and self esteem. It forgets that the substance you abuse is the cause of these problems, and the temptation to use can seem overpowering.
When you’re in recovery, one of the first obstacles you may face is physical detox. This is uncomfortable at best, and can be dangerous if not medically supervised. Your brain will try to solve this discomfort by tempting you to start using again. Sometimes, the people around you will keep pressuring you to use, particularly if they abuse substances themselves.
The pressures you face in recovery can be powerful, from both within and without. That’s why it’s so important to avoid recovering alone, and instead to benefit from a supportive group of people who will help you push through the tough times and maintain your sobriety. This is one reason why treatment centers like Malibu Beach Recovery Center can be so helpful in recovery.
Thinking Moderation Will Work
Lots of people tell stories about how they overused drugs or alcohol at a party, or when they were in college, or during a music festival. They felt ill during or after the use, and after partying too hard for too long, they decide to swear off partying. Instead, they manage a glass of wine at dinner, or a couple of beers at a ball game.
It’s too easy to look at these people and think, “If they can drink or use in moderation, then so can I.” But this isn’t true. People who can move easily between using and sobriety typically aren’t addicted to the substance. Their mind responds differently. If you are suffering an addiction, or know someone who is, it’s important to remember that ‘moderation’ doesn’t work for an addiction. Instead, those suffering from addictions should focus on abstinence.
Thinking That Downgrading Is an Option
Similarly, an addiction isn’t solved by moving to a “softer” version of the abused substance. It’s not enough to swear off whiskey, but tell yourself that drinking beer is fine. It’s a bad idea to avoid heroin and move to pills instead. Abstinence doesn’t mean simply avoiding the drug you’re addicted to; it means avoiding drugs or alcohol entirely.
Believing You’re Cured
Sobriety is hard, especially when you’re just beginning your journey. Cravings can be intense, and social pressure from your old friends can be even stronger. But after a while, your cravings may have become an afterthought, and your friends may have accepted your new lifestyle. Life is good, and you think you’ve cured your addiction.
Keep in mind that an addiction is never cured, only subdued. You can manage an addiction successfully and remain sober permanently, but that’s not because the addiction has gone away; it’s because you haven’t given in. It’s risky to think that your addiction has been cured, because it’s not a far leap to think, “Just once won’t hurt, I’ve beaten my addiction…”
Punishing Your Addiction as a Moral Failure
Since not overindulging in alcohol or drugs is a matter of self-control for most, most also assume that it’s just as easy for everyone. Even those who have the disease buy into this thinking. They believe they should be able to use responsibly just like other people do, and if they can’t, they must be “bad.” The truth is that if you can’t, it is because you are sick and your disease got the best of you. If you do relapse, it is important to tap into your support system as quickly as possible in order to minimize the damage and get back on track. Feeling guilty can cause delays that will only undo the progress you’ve made.
Not Making the Necessary Life Changes
The world of a person who is actively using a substance to which he or she is addicted and one who is in the midst of a successful recovery are two different worlds. You are not just giving up one thing; you need to change the entire way you approach life. Negativity needs to fall by the wayside, and positive, supportive, healthy choices must take their place. Good nutrition, exercise, striving to meet goals, and helping others are all things that can fuel recovery.
Trying to Keep Relationships With Using Friends
The friends that you have used with are probably people you’ve shared a few laughs with, and it may even feel as if they are among the few who are not passing judgment on you. After you go through addiction treatment, you may have a hard time walking away, but in most cases, this needs to be done. At the very least, the relationship needs to change drastically.
Accepting Family Enablement
Your family members should be among those most committed to sustaining your recovery. Before your treatment, they may have helped to make sure you were OK. Maybe they bailed you out of jail or some financial trouble. Maybe they called your boss or school when you couldn’t go in because you were or had been using to the point where you couldn’t function. All these things are done for the right reasons. They don’t want to see you in pain, but sometimes that pain is the only thing that leads you to the help you need. A good treatment plan will take the time to educate your family members about your disease and teach them to provide the kind of support you need to stay in recovery instead of covering up your addiction.