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Risk of Complacency in Recovery


One of the most dangerous things that people can do in recovery is to become complacent. This can lead to a situation where the person believes that they have already done enough to guarantee their success, and it can mean that they stop making an effort. The danger of this type of attitude is it means that the individual can risk losing everything. It is therefore vital that people who are hoping to make a permanent break from alcohol or drugs are always on the lookout for complacency and that they do what they can to avoid it.

What is Complacency?

Complacency refers to a situation where a person feels self-satisfied and they no longer feel in danger of risks from their environment. It means that the person has let their guard down because they no longer feel that there is any risk against from which to defend. Complacency is viewed as a negative way to be because it means that the person is overconfident, and they are therefore at high risk of running into trouble. Some of the biggest manmade disasters in history have occurred when people became so complacent about things that they ignored the risks.

The Dangers of Complacency in Recovery

There are a number of different risks associated with becoming complacent in recovery, including:

  • If people become complacent in recovery, it means that they will stop making any further progress. The person will have become stuck and this will mean that they will be at high risk of relapse back to addiction.
  • When people take their recovery for granted, it will no longer feel like that big a deal to them. The person will no longer feel any gratitude for what they have, and this means that they will not make any real effort to keep it. The individual in this situation can easily fall into the trap of romancing the drink and drug and, before they know, it they are back where they started.
  • The fact that the person has stopped making progress will mean that they will not be able to get the most out of their recovery. Even if they do manage to stay sober, the person will be living a life that is far from perfect. The individual will be selling himself or herself short.
  • It is common for people who have become complacent to develop dry drunk syndrome. This means that even though they are physically sober, they still act in many ways as if they were still caught up in addiction.

Common Reasons for Why People Become Complacent in Recovery

There are a number of common reasons for why people will fall into complacency in recovery, including:

  • It is well known that time heals all wounds, and this can be a real curse when it comes to overcoming addiction. When people first give up addiction, the suffering of this condition will be fresh in their mind and this will give them the motivation to do the things they need to do in order to build a successful recovery. Unfortunately, over time, the person forgets how bad it was, and this means that they begin to lose their motivation. Unless they are able to do something to re-energise their recovery, they will be at high risk of falling into complacency and relapsing.
  • The individual stops feeling grateful for being recovered – they now just take it all for granted.
  • It is common for people in recovery to believe that all they have to do is end the addiction and everything else will fall into place. The individual wrongly believes that their only problem is the addiction and this means that when they become sober they no longer feel the need to make any effort. This is very problematic because there will have been reasons for why this person fell into addiction in the first place, and these reasons are likely to be still there. It is therefore vital that the individual understand that their work is not over when they become sober – it is only just beginning.
  • Some people can go it alone in recovery but this means that the individual will need to take on a great deal of responsibility to make sure that things move in the right direction. The problem is that most people who go it alone do not put in the required effort and they struggle with support and a program to follow. In many situations, it will be better for people to stick to some type of program for recovery and to join some type of fellowship program.
  • Another reason for why people can so easily fall into complacency about their recovery is that they are ambivalent. This means that they are in two minds about recovery and they have not completely given up on the idea that they may be able to drink or use drugs again in the future. The fact that the person is not 100% committed opens up the door for complacency.
  • It is common for people to experience pink cloud syndrome during their early months of recovery. The individual is so relieved to have escaped their addiction that they experience a real sense of being high on life. The problem is that the person feels so good that they begin to feel invincible and this puts them at a high risk of relapse back to addiction.

How to Avoid Complacency in Recovery

In order to avoid complacency, it is recommended that people:

  • The individual needs to keep on remembering where they have come from. It is vital that they are able to keep in mind what will happen to them if they return to addiction.
  • It is commonly stated that people who are grateful for their recovery will never relapse. Gratefulness is like the opposite of complacency. A good way to develop this attitude is to keep a gratitude journal and add to this on a daily basis.
  • The individual needs to commit themselves 100% to recovery. This means that they need to get rid of any ideas of ever been able to drink or use drugs again in the future.
  • It is recommended that people in recovery join some type of recovery program. The benefit of this type of approach to recovery is that the individual will have some support and a program to help them cope with life.
  • It can be a good idea to do some volunteer work with people who are still dealing with addiction problems – although the individual needs to be sure that they are strong enough to deal with this. Those people who attend recovery groups will be automatically be involved in this type of work just by being present at the meetings.
  • When people become sober, they need to commit to a new way of living that will take them as far away from addiction as possible. This means that the person will need to work on the character traits that led them into addiction in the first place. If the individual just becomes physically sober, and does not do anything else, they will be at high risk of complacency and relapse.

It is important that people are aware of the dangers of pink cloud syndrome. It is good to feel happiness at being free of addiction, but this should not be allowed to lead to complacency and feelings of invincibility.

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