There are said to be only two sure things in life, death and taxes. There are no real guarantees and it is impossible to make it through life without at least taking some risks. Some people say that this is actually a good thing because it keeps the world interesting. Those individuals who fall into addiction will have taken many bad decisions along the way. Substance abuse involves taking unreasonable risks where the chances of failure are incredibly high. When people become sober they will still need to take risks, but they will be in a better position to choose those courses of action that are most likely to lead to success.
A risk can be defined as a possibility of loss or injury. It often refers to a situation where a person takes an action on the understanding that there could be negative consequences. The reason why people are willing to take risks is because they believe that the potential benefits make it worth it. It is not always necessary for the individual to take action in order for it to be viewed as taking a risk. Sometimes by doing the nothing the individual may be on a path to negative consequences. The idea of there being risks is based on the assumption that people make choices and that these will have a bearing on their future.
Not every type of risk is equal. Those individuals who are trapped in addiction are known for taking foolish risks that often lead to dire consequences. This is because the characteristics of the addictive personality include impulsive behavior and bad decision making. The type of risky behavior that addicts become involved in include things like:
* Driving while inebriated.
* Indulging in substance abuse to such an extent that it can damage their physical and mental health.
* They may be willing to turn to crime in order to support their habit.
* They gamble with their family’s future.
* They become willing to risk losing lifelong friends and being alienated from family members.
* Their addiction may harm their future career.
* Their reputation in the community may become harmed so that people no longer respect them.
* They may harm romantic relationships.
* There actions may leave permanent scars on their children.
If people continue to act impulsively once they become sober it can lead to continued suffering. One of the things the skills that people need to develop early on is the ability to take responsibility for their actions and make better decisions. In recovery people are encouraged to only take calculated risks. This means that they are careful to calculate the probability of failure before they take action. The individual weighs up the pros and cons of their action or inaction and makes choices based on this. They will not eliminate the possibility of negative consequences completely, but they will be able to justify their decision on the basis of how the benefits outweigh the risks.
There are a number of risks that people may need to take in early recovery including:
* Just by getting sober the individual may feel that they are taking a risk. It is a step into the unknown and the individual will be expected to take a leap of faith.
* If people decide to enter rehab they are likely to feel that this is a type of risk. If they have never been through this type of treatment previously they will have no idea what to expect.
* Addicts tend to have a cynical attitude to anyone who is trying to help them. In recovery they have to become willing to trust the addiction therapists and other professionals who can offer them advice.
* The individual may also be required to trust other newly sober people. This is particularly true if they attend rehab where there are group sessions.
* When people first become sober they will be expected to break away from their former drinking or drugging buddies. This can feel like a step and the individual may fear future loneliness.
* It can be hard for the individual to imagine how life without alcohol and drugs can be satisfying. They are taking a leap of faith by believing that their new life will be better than their old one.
* When the individual decides to make use of a particularly recovery program they are doing so in the belief that it will be the best option for them. There is no guarantee that this is the case so they are taking a risk.
Those individuals who are in early recovery will have to make plenty of choices that do involve at least some possibility of negative consequences – at least in their mind. It is therefore suggested that people avoid making any additional changes to their life as they will already have enough to do with just staying sober. The usual recommendation is that people avoid making any major life changes in the first year of recovery. It is also true that it can take a bit of time before the individual gains the ability to effectively calculate risks so it really is best to put off any major life changes until advanced recovery.
Just because people have made it to advanced recovery does not mean that their days of taking risks are over. In fact there will be plenty of important choices they will need to make in this part of their recovery. The good news is that by now they should have gained some experience in taking calculated risks and should make better choices as a result. The type of risk that people may be faced with could include:
* Changing jobs or starting a new career.
* Taking on new responsibilities.
* Starting a new romantic relationship.
* Returning to education.
* Beginning new friendships.
* Launching a small business.
* Having a baby.
* Moving home or even moving to another country.
There are certain risks that people in recovery should completely avoid taking such as:
* The individual needs to avoid taking any risk that could potentially harm their sobriety. When people give up alcohol or drugs they should never be willing to take any action that might jeopardize this.
* It is not recommended that people take any risk that could potentially harm other people. When the individual was in the midst of their addiction they are likely to have already caused a great deal of harm to other people because of their choices.
* It is not a good idea for people to take risks if they involve unethical conduct. In order to build a successful life in recovery it is necessary for the individual to commit to a more ethical way of living.
* It is not recommended that people in recovery spend much time with those who are still drinking or using drugs. This is an unacceptable type of risky behavior because it can lead to so much temptation.
The main problem with taking risks is that there is always the chance of failure or negative consequences. If people learn how to make calculated risks they increase their chances of success but they will never be able to eliminate risk completely. Anybody who tries to do anything worthwhile is almost certain to face failure along the way. This is not necessarily such a bad thing because such bad outcomes can prove to be beneficial in the end because:
* Knowing what does not work can be almost as important as knowing what does work. If people use their failure as a learning experience it can put them on the right path to success.
* People can be motivated by failure to try harder. They redouble their efforts and this increases their chances of success.
* The ability to deal with failure builds character and makes people feel stronger emotionally. If the individual knows that they are able to pick themselves up after failure it becomes a great confidence builder.
* It is helpful to look upon failure as a test. If people are able to pick themselves back up and continue it means that they have passed the test.
* Even a journey that ultimately leads to failure can still be an enjoyable experience.
If the individual takes a risk and fails they should not:
* If people take a calculated risk they should not then blame other people if things do not work out as hoped. There is always a chance of failure with such choices.
* Just because an action (or inaction) has led to failure does not mean that the individual is a failure.
* The only real failure is when people give up on their goals.
* The individual should not wallow in their failures or use this as a justification to relapse back to addiction. They have to pick themselves up and carry on.