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7 Reasons for Not Finding Enough Happiness in Recovery


happinessIf you have made the effort to give up alcohol or drugs, it is only reasonable to expect that things are going to get better for you. You may be putting a great deal of effort into improving your life, so it is important that you begin to experience some positive rewards for this. The risk is that if you decide that your life is not improving fast enough then you may see this as a justification to relapse.

The fact that you have stopped abusing alcohol or drugs should mean that your life would improve significantly. If this is not happening then it means there is some obstacle that is preventing you from making progress. It is vital that you are able to remove this obstacle because failure to do so could mean you lose this opportunity for a much better life. Here are seven of the most common reasons why people fail to find happiness after they have quit alcohol or drugs.

1. Your Expectations are Unrealistic

It is vital to understand that breaking free of addiction will not mean that it is all going to be easy sailing in life from there on in. All humans need to face difficulties in life, so it is unrealistic to expect that you are never going to experience any further challenges or disappointments; this type of thinking is just setting yourself up for disappointment. The goal of recovery is not for you to reach a stage where there are no more problems; it is all about improving your ability to deal with the challenges in a more effective way.

You can expect progress after you quit alcohol or drugs, but it is going to take time to build a solid enough recovery where you feel more in control. The first few months after you quit may be a bit bumpy at times, so you should be ready for these challenges. This is why it can be so important to belong to a recovery fellowship or to continue with outpatient support following rehab. You are going to be tested in early recovery; you need to be prepared to deal with this.

2. Your Low Self-Esteem is Getting in the Way of Your Happiness

It is common for those abusing alcohol or drugs to have low self-esteem or to develop this as a result of addiction. If you have a low sense of self-worth then it can mean that you do not expect very much for yourself. The fact that you have such low expectations can create a self-fulfilling prophecy – the fact that you do not expect much means you do not get much. This is because the lack of self-esteem means not being motivated to put in the necessary effort to improve life because deep down one does not believe it will make enough of a difference to their life.

If you suspect you may be dealing with low self-esteem, there is a lot you can do to resolve the situation. One option would be to start by setting yourself modest short-term goals – once you achieve these, it will give your confidence a boost and make it possible to go for bigger goals. It can also be a great help to join a recovery fellowship or spend time with a therapist.

3. You Have an Untreated Dual Diagnosis

If you are dealing with an untreated mental health problem like depression, it is going to be difficult for you to find happiness in recovery until this is sorted. The problem is that you may be completely unaware that you have this condition and may be blaming your failure to make progress as being due to other factors. There may even be well-intentioned people telling you that you need to work hard in recovery. The reality is that if you have a dual diagnosis, it will be preventing you from making progress. It is therefore vital that you speak to your GP if there is any chance that you could be dealing with something like depression.

4. All You Have Done Is Give Up Alcohol or Drugs

Giving up alcohol or drugs is a fantastic start, but it is unlikely that this would be enough to assure your future happiness. The problem is that this only really gets you back to where you were before you fell into substance abuse and if things were that great back then, you probably would not have fallen into addiction in the first place. Stopping the physical addiction is the first step, but now you need to develop much better ways of dealing with life. You need to pick up some life tools because it is these that are going to give you the ability to create your own happiness in the future. One of the advantages of going to rehab is that you will usually have the opportunity to pick up new effective coping strategies.

5. You Continue to Behave as If You Were Still Drinking or Using Drugs

In Alcoholics Anonymous, they talk about ‘dry drunk syndrome’. This can be described as where you are physically sober but continue to act as if you were in the midst of addiction. It involves being full of negativity and acting in ways that cause problems for others. People who are dry drunks tend to treat recovery the same as if they were serving a prison sentence, so it is not surprising that they struggle to find happiness.

The most usual reason why individuals develop dry drunk syndrome is that they have become stuck in recovery. What happens is that the person is faced with a challenge but decides not to face it and instead tries to hide from the problem by turning to new maladaptive behaviours (for example, workaholism or exercise addiction). The only way to escape dry drunk syndrome is to face the problem and get it sorted.

6. You are Lacking Gratitude in Recovery

Humans have a tendency to take things for granted once these become familiar. When individuals first become sober, they tend to be incredibly enthusiastic and hopeful but after a few weeks, this new life just becomes normal. The individual then begins to take things for granted and is unable to see just how much better things are. This is dangerous because happiness in life is not about always getting new and shiny things but in appreciating what you already have. It is vital that you are able to maintain a sense of gratitude for this new life; one way to do this would be to keep a gratitude journal.

7. You Haven’t Really Left Your Old Life

If you continue to spend time in bars and socialise with your drinking or drug using friends, it will be difficult for you to move on with your life. It means that you will be trying to act sober in a drinking and drug-using world; it would only be possible to keep this up for a limited amount of time. As is said in AA, if you stay in a barbershop long enough, you will eventually get your hair cut. It is vital that you build a new life away from substance abuse, which will mean making new friends and finding new places where you can spend your time.

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