It is an accepted reality that many people who attempt to give up an addiction will fail. Some of these people may manage to achieve a few months or even years of recovery but then later return to their self-destructive behavior. For some people it will take repeated attempts before they manage to achieve sustained sobriety. There are also too many unfortunate addicts who never manage to escape and end up dying as a result of their substance abuse. The gloomy relapse statistics can be enough to leave people feeling a bit insecure about their recovery. The good news is that such insecurity is unnecessary because staying sober will always be in the hands of the individual. It is up to them if they succeeds or fail.
To say that somebody is insecure usually means that they are unsure and full of doubt. The insecure individual will often be plagued with doubts about the future and worry that they will not be able to manage any challenges that come their way in the future. To say that somebody is insecure in recovery usually means that they perceive themselves to be at risk of relapse. The worry of a return to addiction can prevent the individual from settling into sobriety.
There are a number of reasons for why people can feel insecure in their recovery including:
* They have heard that many people who make it into recovery but later relapse back to their addiction. When people hear about the statistics surrounding relapse it can become a cause of worry.
* They have a history of previous failed attempts at sustaining long term recovery. They may believe that this means that they are likely to fail this time.
* Somebody they respect and admire in recovery has relapsed back to addiction. It can come as a shock when somebody who seemed to have a strong sobriety decides to return to substance abuse.
* If people have low self-esteem it can mean that they are not able to trust their ability to stay sober. They may even wonder if they deserve a life free from an addiction.
* When people become stuck in their recovery they can feel highly insecure. This is because getting stuck can often be the first stage of the relapse process.
* Some individuals are ambivalent about their recovery. They hold opposing views about the value of staying sober and this means that they are on shaky ground and have every right to feel insecure.
* Some people continue to hold onto the idea that if they can stay sober for x amount of time it will mean that they will be able to return to social drinking or safer drug use.
* If the individual spends too much time with people who are struggling in recovery this can influence their perceptions of their own sobriety.
* Some people have only entered recovery as a means to get family and friends off their backs. They secretly plan to return to their old behavior as soon as they feel it is safe to do so.
* If the only action that people take is to give up alcohol or drugs then it is likely to mean that their recovery is on shaky ground. This is because the reasons for why they turned to addiction in the first place are likely to be still there.
If the individual feels too insecure in their recovery it can prevent them from achieving happiness. The dangers of this type of insecurity include:
* The individual can become disillusioned because of their insecurity. They may even use it as a justification to relapse back to addiction.
* If people feel that their sobriety is insecure they may fail to put enough effort into building a good life.
* It can lead to stinking thinking where the individual is full of negativity. This pessimism sucks away people’s energy and it even if they manage to stay sober they might still develop dry drunk syndrome where their behavior is as awful as when they were addicted.
* In order to escape these feelings of insecurity the individual may be tempted to turn to other maladaptive behaviors. It is not uncommon for people in recovery to substitute addictions with behaviors such as workaholism or exercise addiction.
* Feeling a great deal of insecurity in sobriety is just not a satisfying way to live.
While insecurity in recovery can have a negative impact it is also important to avoid the other extreme – complacency. This is where the individual feels so secure in their recovery that they begin to take it for granted. The dangers of complacency include:
* In order to build a satisfying life away from addiction the individual needs to work hard. If they become complacent they may fail to put in the necessary work.
* The individual can forget how bad things were at the end of their addiction. There is a truism that states that those who forget their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
* It is often said that recovery is a process and not an event. The work of recovery is never really over and when people become complacent they risk becoming stuck.
* Those individuals who are grateful for their new life are less likely to give it up easily. When people take things for granted they are unlikely to cherish them as much.
Insecurity can be closely related to low self efficacy. This is the belief that people have in their ability to achieve something. When self efficacy is low it means that the individual is already assuming that they are going to fail. This saps their motivation and they fail to put in the required effort to make something happen. Low self efficacy can act as a self fulfilling prophecy because the belief that the individual has in their inability to stay sober has caused it to become a reality. This implies that those people who are highly insecure about their sobriety may be setting themselves up for failure. This self efficacy also determines the individual’s ability to face challenges that come their way in recovery.
There is no denying the fact that many people in recovery do later relapse. There are even examples of people who were sober for decades but still decided to return to alcohol or drug abuse. Those individuals who have been sober a couple of years will see their risk of relapse decline, but it never completely goes away. Of course this is not to say that people in recovery are doomed to failure. In fact so long as they keep on doing the things that help keep them sober they will almost eradicate their risk of relapse. This means that it is perfectly reasonable that people should feel secure in their sobriety. Their future is in their own hands and there is no better security than that.
The ideal situation is for people to feel secure in their recovery without becoming complacent. The benefits of feeling secure in recovery include:
* It means that the individual will be far more willing to invest time and energy into building a better future.
* It is likely to mean that they have a high self efficacy and this will increase their chances of staying sober.
* It will mean that they feel confident enough to deal with other negative aspects of their life such as character flaws.
* They will be able to view the future positively and avoid stinking thinking.
* Those individuals who are secure in their own sobriety can be a great inspiration to people who are still struggling.
There are things that people can do in order to become more secure in their recovery including:
* It is important that people do not allow the relapse statistics damage their confidence. Their future sobriety will be determined by their own actions and not these statistics.
* Just because the individual has relapsed before does not mean that they are going to relapse this time.
* In Alcoholics Anonymous they suggest that members, stick with the winners. There is some good logic behind this advice because spending time with positive people can inspire the individual to be positive about their own situation.
* It is often said that those who are grateful for their recovery will never allow it to slip away. Keeping a gratitude journal can remind the individual of all the good things they have in their life.
* The small successes that people achieve in sobriety will increase their self-esteem. As their confidence in their own ability increases it will also lead to an increased belief in their own ability to stay sober.
* Those who follow some type of spiritual path may find that this increases their feelings of security in recovery.