Getting sober is the first hurdle to cross in addiction recovery, but it’s far from the final one. Recovery is full of obstacles and barriers that want to drag you back to a life of addiction. That’s why most people relapse at some point during their recovery journey, but it doesn’t mean relapse is inevitable. By addressing these addiction recovery obstacles head-on, you can succeed in your quest for a healthy, happy, sober life.
One of the hardest things you’ll have to face in recovery is confronting the shame you feel regarding your addiction and your behavior while under its influence. Shame doesn’t only erode your self-esteem; it can also drive you back to addiction and away from the help you need.
Unfortunately, feelings of shame are so strong for some people that they lead to suicide. This is especially true among those who suffer from both addiction and depression — a common, and deadly, combination. Not only is substance abuse a common coping mechanism for those with depression, but substance abuse itself contributes to depression. When paired with shame and the impulsivity of intoxication, some people see no way out.
While shame may be hard to confront, it’s essential for breaking free from the isolation of addiction. In addition to seeking treatment for mental health conditions, make sure you’re forming meaningful connections. Talk therapy, support groups, and loved ones are invaluable sources of mental health support and a great reminder that you’re more than your addiction.
Addiction isn’t just hard on your self-esteem and your relationships; it’s also tough on your finances. Not only can active addiction drain your finances, but addiction treatment is also costly. In the short term, focus on baby steps that get your finances back on track. Get a job, learn to budget, and stash extra money in savings so you don’t spend impulsively. However, don’t write off long-term financial goals simply because you’re struggling now.
Planning for the future feels hopeless when your accounts are in the red, but long-term goals are a great motivator. Instead of getting overwhelmed, break big goals down into manageable chunks. For example, buying a home may seem like a far-off dream, but if you research your loan options you’ll learn that most lenders only require a 5 percent down payment for a conventional loan. If you break that 5 percent into monthly savings goals spread over several years, becoming a homeowner suddenly doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
Everyone who chooses recovery deserves to be proud of themselves. However, sobriety alone isn’t enough. If you don’t address the circumstances that led you to addiction in the first place, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself back in its grasp.
That means not just getting sober, but finding a reason to stay sober. Everyone needs a purpose in life, whether it’s family, a hobby, religion, or a career. Not only does a purpose stave off boredom, but it also helps you develop healthy behaviors and builds self-esteem.
Don’t sit around and wait for purpose to happen. Instead, make long-term goals that keep you focused on the future. For many people in addiction recovery, this means going back to school or learning a trade. A degree may be a few years off, but researching schools, getting accepted, and finding a way to pay for it keeps you moving forward.
If addiction harmed your relationships, repairing those connections may be a major goal in recovery. While making amends is an important part of repairing relationships, truly reconnecting with loved ones is a long-term process. Perhaps you commit to weekly dinners with your parents, calling loved ones on birthdays and holidays, or becoming an active co-parent again. Whatever your goal, the important thing is that it’s meaningful to you and that you work towards it in a healthy manner.
Recovery isn’t just the act of getting sober. It’s a process that starts with choosing to fight back against addiction and never truly ends. By setting short- and long-term goals to overcome recovery obstacles, you can keep winning the battle against addiction today and into the future.
Every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, Melissa Howard felt compelled to create Stop Suicide.com. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information.