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Common Mistakes that People Make When They Become Sober


Unfortunately, it is common for those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs to be able to quit for a few days, weeks, or months but then they relapse. The reality is that stopping the substance abuse is relatively easy once the withdrawals are out of the way – the real challenge is staying stopped long term. People make some common mistakes when they try to become sober, and these are the reasons for why the person relapses.

The Individual is Ambivalent about Their Recovery

This is probably the most common reason for why the individual will struggle in recovery. To say that they are ambivalent means that they are in two minds about sobriety. It usually means that the person feels that they should give up alcohol or drugs, but they still hold onto the hope that they will one day be able to drink or use drugs safely again. So long as the person is ambivalent like this they will never be able to break away fully from addiction. It will mean that their attempts at getting sober will be all about “going on the wagon.” The individual may manage to stay sober like this for months, or even years, but they are treating their recovery like a prison sentence and they will eventually relapse. In order to break away fully from addiction the individual needs to be 100% committed to this path.

People Allow Themselves to Romance the Drink or Drug

They say that time heals all wounds, but this can be a real curse when it comes to breaking away from addiction. The problem is that as the weeks and months go by, the individual can forget how bad things were for them at the end of their addiction. The individual can then begin to dwell on those times when alcohol or drugs seemed to be helping them, and they will allow these memories to be exaggerated and misleading. This process is usually referred to as romancing the drink or drug, and it can lead the individual right back into addiction. It is vital that the person is able to remember the suffering of substance abuse, and that they do not allow their thinking to trick them into believing anything else.

The Only Thing the Person Does is to Quit Alcohol and Drugs

When people give up alcohol or drugs it will usually mean that in some ways they will be back where they were before they began abusing these substances. This means that the reasons for why the fell into this behaviour are still likely to be there. For example, the individual may have turned to alcohol or drugs because they found life difficult to deal with. Unless this person finds a way to cope better with things, and deal with their problems, they are highly likely to relapse or turn to other maladaptive behaviours. This is why it is vital that the individual does more than just quit the alcohol and drug abuse – they have to also deal with the causes of this behaviour as soon as they become sober.

The Individual Continues to Use Other Mind Altering Substances

Another common mistake is that the individual gives up one mind-altering substance, but they continue to take other drugs. The person may believe that this is reasonable behaviour because they were never addicted to these other substance. There are good reasons for why the individual is advised to keep away from all mind-altering substances including:

  • Each substance abuse will have a drug of choice. This is the chemical that they will prefer and while they have access to this substance, they will not feel the need to abuse other substances too much. The person is able to use other drugs more sensibly because they are focused on their favourite drug. When their drug of choice is no longer available though, they will replace it with something else. This means that even though the person will have been able to use these substances safely before, they will not be able to do so now.
  • All mind-altering substances make negatively impact the ability to make good decisions. This means that when the person is inebriated with another substance they will be far more likely to relapse back to the substance they have given up. The individual will have very little willpower to stop this from happening if they are high.
  • In order to get the benefits of sobriety the person needs to give up all mind-altering substances. If they fail to do this they will not be really in recovery at all, and they will have no real chance of enjoying sobriety.

The Person Takes Their Recovery for Granted

It is often stated that recovery is a process and not an event. What this means, is that the individual will need to keep on putting effort into their recovery in order to maintain it. As soon as the person begins to take things for granted they will be on thin ice because they will stop doing the things they need to do in order to maintain their recovery. In order to enjoy a long term recover the individual will need to make this their number one priority in life. This does not mean that they have to walk on eggshells, but it does mean that they should never take things for granted, and they should never let anything get in the way of their recovery.

The Person Has Unrealistic Expectations of Recovery

This is another of the most common mistakes that people make when they try to break away from addiction. They expect everything to be perfect right away, and when this happens, they become disappointed and use it as an excuse to relapse. This type of self-sabotage is so damaging, yet it is so easy to avoid. The reality is that the individual did not fall into the depths of addiction overnight, so it is unrealistic to expect things to be put right overnight.

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