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Questions to Ask if Your Life is Not Improving Much in Recovery

ContemplationIt can come as a huge disappointment to break away from addiction but still find that your life is a real struggle. You may have been expecting things to improve dramatically once you gave up alcohol or drugs, but they are not going as well as you expected. There will always be a reason why your life is not improving much in recovery, and there is almost certainly a solution to get you back on track. Below are some of the questions you may pose if you have become stuck in recovery.

Do You Have Realistic Expectations for Recovery?

The expectation that your life will be perfect once you become sober is unrealistic. Breaking away from addiction just means that you have removed a huge obstacle from your life; you are still going to be left facing the same vicissitudes as everyone else.

Up until now, you have been using alcohol and drugs as a means to avoid dealing with life. This has been your coping strategy, but the problem is that it has been a very ineffective solution because it has meant that you have not really been dealing with anything; you have just been hiding.

The difficulties in life will always be there but by staying sober, you get the opportunity to develop effective coping strategies. It will take time for you to do this, but you can speed up the process by going to rehab or choosing some other type of recovery help.

Are You Underestimating Your Progress in Recovery?

It is so easy to take progress in recovery for granted as the pain of addiction fades into memory. The likelihood is that there have been some major positive changes, but you may have become used to them. After the initial burst of improvements in early recovery, things do tend to slow down significantly, but there is continued progress that you just might not be noticing.

Keeping a journal whereby you document your life in recovery can be an excellent way for you to monitor your progress and compare your life now to how things were. It is also a good idea to maintain a daily gratitude list whereby you document all the good things in your life.

Are You Looking for a Justification to Relapse?

If you are not fully committed to recovery, you may be looking for a justification to relapse. This means that your mind’s filtering system is now set to see the bad in recovery and ignore the good. While you have this type of mindset, it will be very difficult for you to notice how much your life is improving. Mentally you have already relapsed, and now you are just paving your path to this destination.

Do You Have a Dual Diagnosis?

Another common reason why people fail to settle comfortably into recovery is that they have a dual diagnosis. This means they have a mental health problem alongside their addiction problem; this could include things like an eating disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or schizophrenia.

If you are finding it difficult to settle into recovery, it could be that you have a dual diagnosis. You may not even be aware that you have this condition because you have been self-medicating it with alcohol or drugs. This other condition could have been the reason you turned to substance abuse in the first place, or it could be something that has developed because of the addiction.

If there is any chance that you could be dealing with a dual diagnosis, it is important that you speak to your doctor. There are no many effective treatments available for dealing with mental health problems, so there is almost certainly going to be a solution that can work for you. An untreated dual diagnosis could prevent you from ever making progress in recovery, so it is vital that you get the help you need.

Do You Have Enough Support in Recovery?

If you have underestimated your need for support in sobriety, it could explain why you are struggling to make progress. All humans need at least some support from others, with some needing a lot of support. During your years drinking or using drugs, you will have likely had a support network in the form of your drinking or drug using buddies. Now that you are sober, you may be missing this support, and you need something to replace it with.

It can be difficult to build up a social support network in recovery unless you make an effort to do this. One good option is to join a recovery fellowship. This provides you with instant access to a large group of people who share similar aims and aspirations as your own. If you do not want to use a fellowship, you can find support by meeting new friends in other environments such as the gym or night classes.

Have You Done More Than Just End the Physical Addiction?

You probably began abusing alcohol or drugs because there was something not right in your life. By breaking away from addiction, you are likely going to end up back where you were before you started. This means that the driving forces behind the initial substance abuse are likely to be still there. Just breaking the physical addiction is unlikely to be enough to lead you to happiness in sobriety; you need to be able to deal with the underlying driving forces behind this behaviour.

To find real happiness in recovery you need to develop emotional as well as physical sobriety. This means you need to overcome all those mental patterns and behaviours that have been holding you back in life. This work can be done with the help of a therapist, or you can also increase your emotional sobriety by following some type of recovery programme, such as the twelve steps.

Are You in Engaging in Other Addictive Behaviours?

Another potential cause of your failure to make progress in recovery could be the fact that you are engaging in other addictive behaviours. This could involve other chemicals (for example, if you have given up heroin, you may continue to use alcohol), or it could involve non-chemical addiction such as exercise addiction, eating disorders, internet addiction, porn addiction, or co-dependency.

So long as you are engaged in any type of addictive behaviour, it will prevent you from making progress in recovery. It is therefore vital that you are aware of this possibility and you look out for the signs that you are developing a new type of addiction. It is also strongly recommended that you avoid all types of mind-altering substances in recovery unless a doctor has prescribed this drug. Even if you have never abused a drug in the past, it does not mean that you are going to be safe to use it now.

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