When people give up alcohol or drugs they will not be guaranteed plain sailing from there on in. There are likely to be barriers to recovery and the individual will need to overcome these in order to make progress. If people fail to overcome these barriers they can become stuck and this is considered dangerous. By facing and getting beyond these barriers the individual not only can continue on their path, but they can also gain from the experience. These barriers can be the individual’s friend because they promote development and change.
If people are faced by barrier in their recovery they can become stuck. This is a precarious people for people to be in because:
* When people become stuck in recovery it may mean that their life away from addiction begins to feel unsatisfying. They may be tempted to relapse as a result of this.
* When people are stuck they may react by turning to other maladaptive behaviors such as workaholism or exercise addiction.
* Becoming stuck means that the individual is delaying the day when they will know true peace in sobriety. Everyone will have brief periods where they become stuck, but if the individual grinds completely to a halt it may be a long time before they make further progress.
* When people become stuck in recovery they may develop dry drunk syndrome. This means that they are behaving in much the same way as they did as an addict even though they are no longer drinking or using drugs.
The most common barriers to a successful recovery include:
* The individual is ambivalent towards their recovery.
* Some people think that just giving up alcohol or drugs is going to be enough to produce a successful recovery. It is often the case that more work than this needs to be done.
* A high number of addicts suffer from a dual diagnosis where they have another mental health problem alongside their addiction. Until they have both conditions treated they will find sobriety a struggle.
* Addicts are said to have an addictive personality that includes a number of undesirable character traits. If the individual takes this personality with them into recovery it will continue to cause problems for them.
* Some individuals will have issues that they just refuse to deal with. Their failure to face these barriers to happiness means that they can become stuck.
* If people in recovery have too many strong opinions and beliefs it can prevent them from accumulating new knowledge. This can be a roadblock to progress in recovery.
* The individual has found an addiction substitute and continue to hide from reality.
Ambivalence in recovery can have serious consequences. It means that the individual is not fully committed to improving their own situation. Ambivalence means that they hold two opposing views. On one hand the individual likes the idea of getting sober and starting a new life. The problem is that they still believe that they will be able to find some enjoyment in their addiction. This means that they are caught between two opposing desires. It is unlikely that such an individual will be able to build a successful life away from addiction until they fully commit to their sobriety. Until that happens they will be in real danger of relapse.
The reason why many people will turn to substance abuse in the first place is because they are finding their life to be uncomfortable. In some cases this may be because they are dealing with an undiagnosed mental health problem such as depression or anxiety disorder. By drinking and using drugs they are self-medicating. If the individual does not get their dual diagnosis treated it is likely to still cause them problems in recovery. This is why people who are finding life tough to be extremely tough in recovery may be wise to speak to their physician about the possibility of other untreated conditions.
It is suggested that addicts tend to share a number of different character traits including:
* The tendency to act impulsively
* High tolerance for deviant behavior
* Attracted to nonconformity
* Antisocial tendencies
* Attention seeking behavior
* A tendency to suffer from anxiety and depression
* They can be highly insecure when in a relationship
* They struggle when it comes to delaying gratification
* Most addicts will have a feeling of alienation from other people
* Low self-esteem
Just because people give up alcohol or drugs does not mean that these personality traits will automatically go away. Unless the individual takes action to develop as a human they can continue to be plagued by these negative characteristics in their personality. This is why it is often said that recovery is a process and not an event. In order words there is still plenty of work to be done after people have become sober. If they do not do this work then it will become a barrier to their success in recovery.
Beginner’s mind can be extremely important for those who are hoping to build a life in recovery. This is because if people hold on too strongly to their current beliefs and opinions it can prevent them gaining new important knowledge. The idea of beginner’s mind is for the individual to temporarily put aside their own views to fully assess what is being said in a fair way. They then need to be willing to change their current ways of thinking when faced with more compelling arguments. If people become unwilling to do this in recovery they can stop learning, and this may also mean that they stop progressing.
Another potential barrier to successful recovery is an addiction substitution. This is where the individual turns to another maladaptive behavior in order to escape dealing with life. The most common types of addiction substation include:
* Exercise addiction
* Internet addiction
* Comfort eating
* Obsession with becoming successful
* Sex addiction
* Becoming obsessed with a spiritual path
The problem here is not the activity themselves but the way that the individual is using them to escape facing their life. The addictive personality means that the individual may be prone to falling into these traps.
The action that people can take to overcome these barriers to recovery includes:
* The most important thing is that the individual knows they are stuck. If they fail to realize that there is a problem they will be unlikely to do anything to fix it.
* Keeping a journal is a good way to track progress. This can allow the individual to notice when they have gone off course and to work out what happened.
* Those who belong to a recovery group may find that this is helpful when it comes to overcoming barriers. Other people are likely to have faced the same situation and they will be able to offer helpful suggestions for how to deal with it.
* Making use of addiction recovery resources can allow the individual to learn more about the common barriers to sobriety. This means that they will be more aware of the potential pitfalls – to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
* The key to overcoming any barrier in recovery is willingness. This will give the individual the motivation they need to take action to fix the problem.
* If the individual feels stuck and unable to escape they will likely benefit from professional help. A therapist will be able to guide the individual towards the solution to their problems.