Are you your own worst enemy in addiction recovery? Are you sabotaging your sobriety without realising it? Make sure you are not in the habit of these self-sabotaging behaviours – or your recovery and sobriety may be in danger.
There are a variety of factors and people we can choose to blame for our drug and alcohol addiction; we can blame unhappy childhoods, bad therapists, peer pressure and a whole host of other influences. But what really is addiction recovery’s worst enemy? Most people would be inclined to say that it is the drugs and alcohol themselves, and while they are certainly a major part of addiction, there is a much more devious adversary: you.
Addiction itself is a form of self-sabotage, and it is a characteristic that addicts are masters of. Instead of rationally dealing with negative thoughts, feelings and situations, addicts will turn to drugs and alcohol to escape their problems, and in doing so replace that issue with a much bigger one.
How You May be Sabotaging Your Own Addiction Recovery
There are a number of ways that addicts sabotage their own addiction recovery, often unknowingly, which we will discuss below.
Addicts pile self-abuse and judgement onto themselves daily, and this negative mind-set is a sure way to sabotage your recovery. Telling yourself, or simply thinking that you are not good enough, or that you feel like you are never going to recover, leads to thoughts of hopelessness and depression that will only lead you off the track of your addiction recovery.
- Unhealthy friendships.It can be extremely hard to cut ties with the friends that you had while you were an addict. These friends were often there in your darkest times, they may have lent you money, offered emotional support or even been a romantic partner. But the fact of the matter is, these friends will most likely try their hardest to sabotage your addiction recovery by making negative comments, or perhaps even using in front of you or encouraging you to join in for ‘old time’s sake’.
Boredom is one of the most common reasons for addicts to sabotage their addiction recovery. Time that used to be spent acquiring and taking drugs or alcohol, or structured time in drug rehab, is now free time – and this means that there is too much time to think and convince yourself that you should use again. Instead, stay busy with new activities, volunteer work, and hobbies.
While everyone in the world is subject to stress in one way or another, addicts deal with it poorly. Coming out of addiction treatment and back into the real world is extremely stressful. Whether it is work, family or friends, addicts sometimes just cannot handle the stress of every day life, and will turn back to alcohol and drug abuse instead of dealing with the stress itself.
Isolation feeds loneliness and depression, which in turn is most likely to lead to relapse. It is important that you reach out to friends and family or support groups to help you through your addiction recovery. Being alone just increases the likelihood of going back to negative thinking and behaviours.
Thoughts such as “I am better than everyone here” or “I will beat them at recovery” are typical of the ego that is a part of most addictive personalities. Thinking like this means that you are not going about your addiction recovery in the right way. You are meant to be doing it for yourself, and not to be better than other people in the addiction treatment programme with you. Instead of seeing recovery as a competition, remind yourself daily how your life will be better because of it.
- Refusing help.
Addicts often withdraw into themselves and push away all friends and family, which results in the lack of a support system for the addict if something is to go wrong. It is important to make your friends and family an integral part of your recovery process, and to rely on them when you are having a bad day. By refusing to reach out and ask for help, you are setting yourself up for failure.
- Missing recovery meetings.
Support group meetings are a core aspect to any addiction recovery programme. They offer a safe place to talk, share, listen and learn from other people going through the same things as you. But sometimes addicts feel like they are healed, and they do not need to attend meetings any longer. This often leads to an increased sense of loneliness and boredom, which is a slippery slope towards relapse.
- Keeping an unhealthy lifestyle.
An unhealthy lifestyle often leads to an unhealthy mind-set, which in turn leads to depressive, negative thinking and behaviour. It is important that while you are in addiction recovery you eat healthy food and exercise regularly. This will help you keep your thoughts and behaviour positive.
Lying to yourself, your friends, and family can only lead to destructive thought patterns and behaviours. If you are struggling, or you think you are going to relapse, do not just brush it off and lie that you are fine, because this will most likely lead you back to drugs or alcohol. Being completely honest about your feelings is a major part of successful recovery.
Denying that you have a problem is one of the surest ways to sabotage your path to addiction recovery. Admitting that you need help is the first step in staying on track.
- Self pity.
Self-pity deflates you of your motivation to recover, and you will start to blame others instead of taking responsibility for your own actions. Celebrate each small success in recovery, and focus on building your confidence – it is a huge part of being successful and staying sober.
- Inability to say no.
Addicts can have a problem saying no to family and friends, as they feel guilty for what they have put them through. But doing too much and stretching yourself too thin can result in being overwhelmed and turning to drugs or alcohol to deal with this feeling. Make your recovery your number one priority – and then commit to other people or activities.
- Bottling emotions.
Addicts often struggle to express their emotions, and they bottle them up instead of dealing with the problem. This bottling often leads to an inability to deal with them when they all come to the surface, and it is easy to slip back into using at this point.
- Destructive patterns.
It is important to break the destructive patterns and behaviours that were part of your addiction. They can trigger a relapse if they are not identified and let go.
Addiction recovery is difficult, and all of the above-mentioned behaviours are hard to break. But it is important to remember that any recovery takes time and hard work. If you cannot break these habits on your own, speak to a counsellor or your sponsor.