image courtesy of www.johnspencerellis.com
How much work have you put into your recovery?
No matter how much clean and sober time you have, you should take some time right now, turn out from the Matrix, and plug into the amplifier of your conscience. It shouldn’t take much thought to realize that you have put in more than your share of blood, sweat and tears in transforming yourself from a soul lost in the haze of addiction to a more spiritually aware and sober being.
Like your house or automobile, your recovery is a major investment that must be protected at all costs and by any means necessary. You protect that investment by continuing to do such things as attending 12-step meetings, being of service to others, and maintaining solid self-care regimen. You are definitely putting in the work, but addiction is a cunning and tricky beast and it will try and find holes in your recovery game to exploit.
Most of the things that can sabotage your recovery are subtle and don’t set off alarms right away. However, if you don’t pay attention to these signs, it can lead to a backslide into active use once again. While a relapse does not mean the end of the world, it can leave you with a tremendous guilt and shame that can knock the wind out of your sails and keep you in a funk.
The truth is that temptation can lurk around every corner, and every day that you are in recovery can present its own unique of things that can make you vulnerable. In order to keep the S.S. Sobriety upright and moving forward, you must recognize within yourself the attitudes and behaviors that can undermine your efforts. The following are a list of 12 things that can sabotage your recovery.
Focusing Your Attention Only on the Substance
No matter the substance you were addicted to, the ultimate goal of treatment is to give you the tools and support you need to break free from that particular drug’s grip on your life. While the physical aspects of addiction can be remedied in a certain amount of time, the psychological remnants of addiction can still make its presence known years after substance use has stopped.
In recovery, it is easy to focus on the fact that you are not using your chosen poison any longer, but if you aren’t putting forth considerable effort to address those underlying issues that caused you to pick up drugs and alcohol in the first place, eventually those old ghosts will come back to haunt your life. The continued stress of dealing with your past and present can lead you down the road to relapse.
“Sobriety Will Fix Everything In My Life”
When people start accumulating some time in recovery, they feel on top of the world. They are in top shape physically and psychologically and are flush in the optimism of what their future holds. Indeed, early sobriety is transformative and things may seem perfect but as it is often said appearances can be deceiving.
People often are of the opinion that sobriety itself will fix everything in their life and return things to what they once were. While it is a romantic notion, the reality is that sobriety doesn’t fix things–it gives you the tools to fix things yourself. As good as sobriety can feel, you will experience moments where you will definitely have the case of the fuck-its. Sobriety isn’t perfect, and life isn’t perfect. If you approach your sobriety with fairytale notions, your resolve can crumble at the first signs of adversity.
Not Making Amends
Continuing on from the last point, people can engage in magical thinking when it comes to sobriety. To some, it represents the ultimate do-over and they feel that by going to treatment the slate is wiped clean. As it was explicitly stated previously, sobriety itself doesn’t set everything right in the cosmos; you still have to do the work–and that includes making amends to those you have hurt or harmed when you were addicted to drugs and alcohol.
One of the major things that can sabotage your recovery is if you approach friends and family with that attitude that making amends isn’t necessary because “they just know” it will be your undoing. You need to hold yourself accountable for you actions and you MUST go to family and friends and not only apologize, but you also back your words up with honest and genuine action.
If you fail to make amends to these important people in your life, they will more than likely end up resenting you, questioning what you say and in no uncertain terms think you are full of it and full of yourself. Without making things truly right, you will not have the essential support system you need to lean back on during those tough times.
We all know how it goes. We work hard to address and overcome our addiction and put some serious time into working our program of recovery in the early going. The success we can have in early recovery can feel as intoxicating as drugs themselves, and while we bask in our glory we can think that things are too easy.
If you start feeling good in this way, you may decrease the number of meetings you go to or may stop going to meetings altogether. You may not call your sponsor. Whatever you are doing to not work your recovery, you are allowing complacency to creep in. Recovery is a lifelong process, and by believing that sobriety has some sort of end date will leave your mind open and vulnerable to thoughts of using, and your mind will find ways for you to rationalize that using drugs and alcohol again is alright.
The key to maintaining meaningful sobriety is practicing effective relapse prevention techniques. By being aware of the things that can sabotage your recovery, you can put those life and coping skills that you learned in treatment to their best use.