It can take many years of suffering before an individual is finally ready to escape their addiction problems. When they do become sober it does not mean that everything will be perfect. It usually takes many years in sobriety before the individual reaches a stage where they are at peace most of the time. In order to arrive at a point of serenity the individual has to keep on progressing in recovery. Standing still is dangerous because it can easily lead to relapse. The good news is that by doing what is required the individual will find the happiness that they once believed could be obtained through substance abuse.
The most common reasons why people become stuck in recovery include:
* The number one reason why people stop making progress in recover is that they are faced with a challenge that they refuse to deal with/. This obstacle will continue to hinder the individual unless they becoming willing to face it. If they delay too long they are likely to find that their recovery starts to backslide.
* Some people run out of motivation and they become less willing to make the necessary changes in their life. This can happen when they forget the pain that caused them to quit alcohol or drugs in the first place. Other individuals will just take recovery for granted and become less willing to put the necessary work into it. Those who give up their addiction in order to just please other people will tend to run out of steam faster.
* The individual may become trapped in negative emotions and this halts their progress. This type of stinking thinking can occur when the individual feels resentful or disappointed because their life away for addiction is not yet perfect.
* People can struggle to build a new identity away from addiction. In the past their whole life may have revolved around obtaining and using their favorite addictive substance. Now that this part of their life is over they can feel unsure about how to move forward.
* Some people believe that their only problem was overindulgence in alcohol or drugs. This means that when they quit it feels like their job is done. They will fail to realize that the things that drove them into addiction in the first place will probably still be there. If these individuals fail to develop new more positive ways of dealing with life they are almost certain to end up back in trouble.
When people become stuck they may experience symptoms such as:
* An increase in negative thinking. The individual may feel disappointed with life in recovery because it has not lived up to their expectations. They are likely to feel pessimistic about the future.
* Anger outbursts and feelings of resentment
* Problems at work, home, or with friends. When people become stuck in recovery it usually means that relationships will suffer.
* The individual can begin to isolate. They stop talking about their problems and concerns with other people.
* They may begin to romance the drink or drug. This is when they remember the days when substance abuse seemed to help them.
Recovery from an addiction is a process and not an event. This means that the individual needs to be progressing all the time or else they begin to backslide. The dangers of becoming stuck in recovery include:
* It causes people to become dissatisfied with life away from addiction. It can take a long time before people manage to build a good life in sobriety. If people become stuck then they may lose hope of every achieving such happiness.
* If people are stuck they will usually experience a great deal of stress. They may turn to new maladaptive behaviors to deal with this discomfort. This could include becoming a workaholic, a fitness fanatic, or turning to other forms of substance abuse. Addiction substitution is just more avoidance and can ultimately only lead to further pain and suffering.
* Becoming stuck is the first stage of the relapse process
* People become sober because they want to improve their life. When they are stuck in recovery it just delays them reaching that day when they will experience true peace and contentment. Life is short so it is probably best to avoid wasting time.
* Those individuals who become stuck in recovery may develop into dry drunks. Such individuals might manage to remain sober, but life away from their addiction will not be full of happiness. Instead it is more likely to feel like a prison sentence. The dry drunk tends to not only make their own life miserable but also the lives of those close to them. Such an individual may no longer be using alcohol or drugs but in many ways it is still business as usual.
Those individuals who return to alcohol or drug abuse will often pass through a number of stages before reaching that point. This is known as the relapse process and involves:
* Becoming stuck in recovery
* The individual tries to ignore the fact that they are stuck
* They turn to negative coping strategies to deal with the discomfort of being stuck. This increases their level of internal suffering.
* A trigger event occurs and this causes the internal suffering to become far more obvious
* The individual experiences a great deal of emotional turmoil
* The inner turmoil is now impossible to ignore
* The individual feels like they are out of control
* They return to alcohol or drug abuse in order to escape the pain
People develop in sobriety by overcoming problems that arise in their life. Once they figure out how to deal with a situation once they will find it easier to handle the next time. As the individual manages to conquer more problems they begin to find life easier to deal with. It is like they develop a toolbox of coping strategies and this allows them to deal with anything that life sends their way. Once this toolbox is sufficiently full they achieve a state known as serenity. Living becomes easy, and they experience a sense of calm and peace most of the time.
There are different steps that the individual can take to become unstuck in recovery including:
* The first thing that people need to do is to identify what it is that is holding them back. It can be helpful to discuss the situation with friends in recovery or a therapist. Sometimes the cause of a problem only becomes obvious when it is talked about with another person.
* People are highly influenced by their social network. This is why it is regards as such a bad idea for people in recovery to spend too much time with former drinking or drug using friends. Conversely, spending time with those individuals who have a strong recovery can be highly beneficial. In AA they talk about sticking with the winners. When people feel stuck in their recovery they can benefit greatly from the right type of support network. These people can inspire the struggling individual to get back on track.
* Reading recovery books and other material can reignite motivation to stay sober.
* If people have completed rehab then it is recommended that they make use of any aftercare program. This will decrease the likelihood that they become stuck in recovery. Aftercare activities such as booster sessions can be invaluable for ensuring that the individual keep on moving forward in sobriety.
* Some people benefit from belonging to a recovery fellowship such as AA. This type of group can not only provide support and a social network, but also a program to keep people on the right track. The other benefit of belonging to a 12 Step program is the availability of a sponsor. This is a more experienced member who will always be available to offer one to one advice and support.
* It is vital that people in recovery are able to spot the signs that they have stopped making progress. This includes an understanding of the relapse process and relapse triggers. If the individual is able to spot the warning signs they should be able to avert disaster.