Those individuals who have hit rock bottom will probably not need many incentives for them to give up their addiction. Their main concern will be for the pain to stop. Once these people become sober for a period of time they are likely to have higher expectations. It is then that they will become more concerned with finding success in recovery.
Success can be defined as the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted. It is quite a subjective term so people will view it differently. Some individuals will always view success as something they have yet to achieve. No matter how well they have done already such people will always be moving towards the next goal. The attitude that nothing is ever enough can be harmful because it means that people never feel happy with what they have. They just keep moving towards some unobtainable goal until they die.
It is up to each individual to determine what success means to them. This could include:
* Fulfilling friendships
* Mental clarity
* Achieving dreams
* Feelings of peace most of the time
* The ability to handle life
* A satisfying romantic relationship
* Physical fitness
* Satisfying employment
* Financial security
* Academic achievements
* Weight control
Many of these goals can sound a bit vague so it is best to be more definite about them. Otherwise there will be no end in sight. For example, for financial security the individual can decide upon the amount of money they would need to be earning for this to be a reality. It is good to have ambitious goals, but they should always be realistic as well.
In its most basic terms success in addiction recovery could just mean no longer using alcohol or drugs. The problem with this definition is that a person can give up their addiction and still have to face a great deal of suffering in life. This is because in many instances the individual will have turned to addiction in the first place due to not being able to cope with things. This means that when they become sober they will be back where they started. Rather than find happiness away from their addiction the individual might develop dry drunk syndrome. This is where they no longer drink but in many other respects their behavior remains the same. A better definition of success in recovery might include:
* The ability to manage life without the need for mind altering substances.
* Developing meaningful relationships with other people.
* Feeling at peace much of the time.
* Feeling secure in recovery. Some individuals treat sobriety like a prison sentence instead of a comfortable live that they can enjoy.
* Spending more time thinking about other people. The individual will notice a reduction in self-absorption.
In the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book there can be found a list of promises on page 83. These achievements can be useful as good for what success in recovery means. The promises to be found in the Big Book include:
* Enjoying inner peace most of the time
* Experiencing a new type of freedom and happiness
* An end to feelings of self-pity
* An end to financial worries. This does not necessarily mean that the individual will be rich.
* No regrets about the past.
* Improved intuition so that people automatically know how to handle any situation.
* An end to self-seeking.
* The individual will have the ability to help other people.
* An end to fear of other people
* Improved self-worth.
* The individual will experience serenity.
Giving up alcohol or drugs will mean that the individual will become physically sober. This is the starting point for recovery and there can be no real development until people take this step. Some people may decide to that being physically sober is enough for them. The problem with this type of attitude is that it means their life in recovery will feel terribly unsatisfying. They are likely to relapse or if not they will develop dry drunk syndrome. This is because in order for the individual to get the most from their life away from addiction they will need to develop emotional sobriety.
Emotional sobriety is often described as the ability of people to feel their feelings. Those individuals who have managed to develop this type of sobriety get to enjoy:
* An ability to handle life no matter what is happening.
* Such people will experience a great deal less stress.
* Less stress related illness.
* This type of individual finds it much easier to regulate their own behavior. This means that they are unlikely to fall into addiction or other self-destructive habits.
* They will tend to be positive most of the time.
* Less likely to suffer from strong emotions.
* Less likely to suffer from extremes of mood.
* They are comfortable living in the present moment. They are not always planning for the future or thinking about the past.
* Such individuals will usually find it easy to develop deep and meaningful relationships in sobriety.
A sensible goal for people in recovery is to develop serenity. This is a state of being that people can experience some of the time or most of the time. The individual who is truly serene will no longer be severely impacted by things that occur in their life. They intuitively know how to handle every situation and so they feel a sense of mastery over their life. In order to develop this type of mentality the individual has to become willing to face life on life’s terms.
It can be useful to think of serenity as being like having a full toolbox full of coping strategies. Every time the individual meets a new challenge in their life and overcomes it they will have picked up a new coping strategy. If this person keeps on meeting each challenge that comes their way they will eventually have a full toolbox of coping strategies to deal with every situation. When this happens people find that living is almost effortless. They can enjoy peace most of the time and they are no longer afraid of life.
There can be a number of stumbling blocks that can prevent people from building a successful recovery including:
* The individual is arrogant and unwilling to consider new ideas and ways of thinking.
* They allow stinking thinking to take over their life. Too much negativity saps energy and prevents people from doing what they need to do to find success in recovery.
* The individual may be dealing with an untreated dual diagnosis. Until they get this other mental health problem dealt with they will struggle to enjoy life away from addiction.
* Some people become stuck in recovery. They are faced with a challenge that they refuse to face and so there can be no further progress.
* Unrealistic expectations can be a barrier to success in recovery. When the individual fails to achieve these lofty goals they may feel sobriety.
* Spending too much time with negative people or those who still drink and use drugs.
In order to build a successful it is important that people:
* Develop beginner’s mind. This means being able to temporarily put aside opinions and beliefs to consider new ideas and new ways of doing things.
* It is a good idea for each individual to think carefully about what success means to them.
* In Alcoholics Anonymous they advise members to stick with the winners. This is good advice because humans are highly influenced by the people they spend their time with.
* In order to find success the individual has to be willing to face all the challenges that life sends their way. It is only by overcoming these problems that progress can be made.
* Finding success means not being afraid to fail. The only people who ever really fail are those who give up trying to reach their goals.
* Success is unlikely to just fall from the sky. In order to achieve something the individual needs to put in the necessary effort.
* It is important that people in sobriety aim for a well rounded life. If they become too obsessed with one area of their life this can lead to a type of addiction substitution (for example, workaholism or exercise addiction).
* In order to have a better chance of reaching a major goal it is better to break it down into smaller goals. As the individual accomplishes each target it renews their motivation to move onto the next one.
* It is not a good idea for people to become too obsessed with the actual goals they set for themselves. Life happens in the journey towards these goals and that is where the real enjoyment is to be found.
* It is up to each individual to decide what success means to them. There is no reason why they should have to use somebody’s measure of success for themselves.
* Success does not have to be about wealth and fame.
* It is a good idea for people to think about how they will feel on their death bed. It is often said that nobody regrets not spending more time in the office when they are looking back on their life.