The path to peace of mind and happiness is hardly ever direct. It is usual for people to take wrong turns along the way and for them to need to retrace their steps. The real problem starts when people lose their way but just keep on walking. This type of behavior is particularly problematic for those who are recovering from an addiction because such a wrong path could take them right back into addiction. It is almost always possible for people to get back on track so long as they are willing to admit there is a problem.
If people go off course in recovery it can put them in danger of:
* The wrong path they have taken may lead them right back into addiction. By the time that the individual realizes that they are on the verge of relapse they may feel incapable of preventing it.
* When people stop making progress they can begin to feel unsatisfied with their life. In order to escape this dissatisfaction they may turn to maladaptive behaviors such as workaholism or exercise addiction .
* Those individuals who choose sobriety have the opportunity to achieve a high degree of success and find inner contentment. If they lose their way it may prevent them from achieving this goal.
* When people get lost in recovery it will usually mean that their behavior will begin to deteriorate. Their actions can become almost as self destructive as when they were in the midst of addiction.
* If people go off course they may fall into irrational and negative ways of thinking about life – this is sometimes referred to as stinking thinking. If people fall into the trap of negative thinking it can prevent them from ever finding real happiness in life.
* When people lose their way in recovery it is usually evidence that they are refusing to deal with a problem that is handicapping their progression in sobriety.
When people lose their way in recovery there are usually symptoms associated with this such as:
* Their behavior begins to deteriorate. They may begin to act in much the same was as they did during the midst of their addiction.
* The individual experiences increased negativity and feels pessimistic about their future.
* The person feels like they have become stuck and recovery no longer feels satisfying.
* They have taken on too much and now feel overwhelmed by it all.
* The individual begins to remember times when alcohol or drugs seemed to be an asset in their life – this is referred to as romancing the drink or drug.
* The person has lost their motivation and they now take sobriety for granted.
* The individual has fallen into an addiction substitute such as comfort eating or workaholism.
* They have begun spending increasing amounts of time with people who could be considered a negative influence.
* The person has become cynical about the recovery community and begins to question if they ever really had an addiction problem in the first place.
* They complain that life in recovery is boring, and that they no longer have any real friends.
* The individual keeps on blaming people, places, and things for any problems. They never seem to consider the possibility that they might be the problem.
Dry drunk syndrome is a sure sign that the individual has lost their way in recovery. This refers to a situation where the person no longer abuses alcohol (or drugs) but in many ways their behavior remains the same. The symptoms of this syndrome include:
* The individual is full of self pity. They feel that recovery has turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.
* They will tend to blow things out of proportion. The slightest hiccup in recovery becomes the source of a great deal of stress.
* The individual is nostalgic about the days when they once enjoyed alcohol and drugs.
* This person may be full of pride and overly confident about their ability to stay sober.
* They always seem to be complaining and have a cynical attitude towards addiction recovery.
* They tend to be full of anger, bitterness, and resentment.
* This individual will be in denial about the state of their sobriety. They will react defensively to any suggestion that they might have gone off course.
* They feel pessimistic about the future.
* The dry drunk continues to engage in behaviors that are considered maladaptive. They continue to be dishonest and may even engage in criminal activities if it serves their purpose.
* Such people will tend to not have many friends. Their negativity and bad behavior has a detrimental impact on their ability to form lasting friendships.
There are a number of reasons for why people can lose their way in recovery such as:
* The individual becomes stuck because they are faced with an obstacle that they do not want to deal with. So long as they refuse to overcome this obstacle they will not be able to make further progress.
* There are many wrong turns that people can take in recovery – traps that the unwary can fall into. If the individual is not aware of these potential dangers they will be at risk of being caught out by them, and this is most likely to happen when the individual fails to learn from the mistakes made by other people in recovery.
* It is important to remember that recovery is a process and not an event. There is no graduation day in sobriety and people have to stay motivated and continue learning in order to avoid a wrong turn.
* One of the most common reasons why people end up lost in recovery is that they have become complacent. Once people begin to take sobriety for granted they are on thin ice.
* It has been suggested that those who fall into substance abuse tend to share certain character traits known as the addictive personality. These personal characteristics make people more likely to go astray in recovery unless they work hard to overcome them.
* If people become unwilling to try new things and to let go of old opinions it can prevent them from making progress.
So long as the individual has not relapsed they will always have the option to get back on track. This can be achieved by:
* The key thing is that the person is able to acknowledge that they have gone astray. If they fail to see that there is a problem they will not be willing to put much effort into fixing things.
* If people suddenly find that things seem to be going wrong in their life they need to consider the possibility that they are the problem.
* Those individuals who keep a journal in recovery should find it easier to identify where they have gone astray. This is one reason why journaling is such a good idea.
* The individual needs to have the humility to admit that they are lost. It may be a good idea for them to ask for help from other people in getting back on course – this also takes a degree of humility.
* Getting back on track will usually require a beginner’s mind. This means that the individual is willing to let go of their preconceived notions and beliefs which may have been responsible for their wrong turning.
* There may be changes that the individual has resisted making in their life. Most people will have negative aspects of their behavior that they find harder to let go of but the individual will need to do this in order to progress.
* It is vital that people are aware of the potential pitfalls in recovery. This means learning from the mistakes of other people.
* In order to ensure continued sobriety the individual needs to make this their number one priority in life. There is no real graduation day for those who are recovering from addiction.
* If people start off with a shaky foundation in recovery they are more likely to end up of course. One way to build a solid base is to spend time in rehab – this is where the individual can pick up the tools they need for success in sobriety.
* Techniques such as mindfulness meditation can allow the individual to gain greater insight into their own thoughts. This may mean that they will spot the evidence of a wrong turning earlier.