Motivation and Relapse

A common reason for why people return to addiction after a period of sobriety is that they just run out of steam. They lose their motivation to stay away from alcohol and drugs. It is not enough for the individual to just give up their addiction. They have to work at building a successful life in recovery. If people do not have the motivation to do this, then they are unlikely to find much happiness. This means that the idea of returning to their former addiction becomes increasingly attractive. The pull towards addiction is stronger than the pull towards recovery.

Motivation Defined

Motivation can be defined as a driving force that initiates, guides, and maintains goal orientated behavior. It is believed that motivation is a mechanism by which humans attempt to avoid pain and maximize pleasure. Motivation is not always rational. This is why people can become trapped in addiction. Their misdirected motivation compels them to keep on using the substance that is causing them so much pain. In order to build a good life away from addiction, the individual needs to develop enough motivation to make this aspiration a reality.

Reasons for Loss of Motivation in Recovery

These are some of the reasons people lose their motivation in recovery:

* When people give up the substance abuse their life can improve dramatically. They can forget the pain of addiction, which was the driver that motivated them to stop in the first place.
* There are many individuals who manage to get sober but still feel ambivalent about recovery. They like what sobriety has to offer, but also still believe that they can find happiness using alcohol and drugs.
* If people fail to develop sufficient coping mechanisms for life in recovery they can become overwhelmed by the challenges they face. Their determination to stay sober falters as a result.
* When things are going well people can become overly confident. They feel like their problems are over so no further work is required.
* Some individuals are extremely eager when they first become sober, but then later run out of steam. They may result from disillusionment when their high expectations are not met right away.
* Those individuals who give up their addiction to please other people will usually lose motivation in recovery. Once that they decide that it is safe for them to return to alcohol or drugs their reason to stay sober disappears.
* Anger and resentment can drain people of their motivation to stay on the path of sobriety. If people are full of these negative emotions they struggle to think clearly and make rational choices.
* Some people just lose their way in recovery. They make bad choices and the effects of this outweigh their motivation to stay sober.
* If the individual chooses a recovery program that does not suit their needs then this too could drain their motivation to stay sober.

Dangers of Memory in Recovery

Memory can be treacherous for people who are recovering from an addiction. When people are at the end of their addiction they can be in a great deal of pain and mental suffering. This gives them the motivation to escape their addiction. Once people have been sober for a few months they can begin to forget this pain. They may even begin to romance the drink or drug. This is where the individual not only forgets the reason they quit their addiction, but they also begin remembering the good times of their substance abuse – even when these good times in reality were not that great. Memory has an odd effect on people who are recovering from an addiction, and it can cause them to lose their motivation to stay sober.

Danger of Ambivalence in Recovery

An ambivalent attitude towards sobriety can be dangerous. This is where the individual has two minds about recovery. They may have some good reasons to stay sober, but they also have a strong motivation to continue drinking or drugging. Until they are able to overcome their ambivalence, their sobriety will be on a shaky foundation. The slightest setback could be enough to tip the balance in favor of a relapse.

Loss of Motivation and the Pink Cloud

Pink cloud syndrome can lead to loss of motivation. It is expected that people should feel plenty of joy at escaping addiction, and there will be plenty for these people to be happy about in recovery. In pink cloud syndrome, the person becomes so high on sobriety that they lose touch with reality. There is nothing wrong with experiencing joy, but the problem really starts when the pink cloud period ends. This is almost guaranteed to happen, as life is full of ups and downs. Some individuals hit the earth with a bang, and this saps their motivation. They feel cheated because their feelings of joy have come to an end. They begin to doubt the value of sobriety.

Realistic Expectations in Recovery

Another common reason for why people lose motivation in recovery is that they had unrealistic expectations to begin with. They may have believed giving up alcohol or drugs would have made their life perfect. They did not realize that giving up the substance abuse is only the start of their journey. This is because recovery is a process and not an event. Nobody gets to enjoy a life that is always easy. If people expect this in recovery, then they are highly likely to be disappointed. It is unreasonable to expect that life in sobriety will always be perfect, or that all the problems of the past will be solved overnight.

Dangers of Loss of Motivation in Recovery

The most obvious risk with losing motivation in recovery is that the individual will return to their former addiction. The other possibility is that they become a dry drunk. This is where people avoid returning to substance abuse, but they also stop progressing in their recovery. The dry drunk is stuck and is likely to feel unsatisfied with their life. They can begin to feel a great deal of anger and resentment because their life in recovery is not nearly as satisfying as they hoped. They can begin to view their sober life as just something that needs to be endured.

How to Avoid Loss of Motivation in Recovery

Losing motivation in recovery can lead right back to addiction so it needs to be avoided at all costs. These are some tips to avoid losing the driving force for sobriety:

* Keeping a journal can be a great way to keep motivated in recovery. It allows the individual to see their progress and it reminds them of their reasons for staying away from alcohol or drugs.
* Maintaining a gratitude list can also keep people feeling enthusiastic about sobriety. This prevents people from forgetting why their recovery is so important to them.
* It is important that people have a clear conviction for their need to be on the recovery path. This will help them overcome any remaining ambivalence in regards to sobriety.
* Recovery should be all about experimenting and trying new things. This keeps things interesting and motivates the individual.
* If people feel themselves going through a particularly joyful period of sobriety they should enjoy this. They also need to keep in mind that life is full of ups and downs, and that this period of bliss is unlikely to last indefinitely.
* The individual needs to have realistic expectations of what is possible in recovery. Their life can improve greatly by quitting the addiction, but this is not the end of their journey.
* If people feel that they have stopped making progress in their recovery then they need to rectify this situation. Staying still is never a good idea in sobriety because it can drain motivation.
* The individual can actively take steps to keep motivated. This could involve regularly spending time with addiction recovery resources.
* Those individuals who belong to a 12 Step Group may find that regular attendance keeps them motivated to stay sober.
* Some rehabs offer booster sessions that are designed to rejuvenate the individual’s motivation to stay sober. Many people find that the driving force to stay sober can begin to lose power after a few months of sobriety. A booster session may rectify the situation.
* Spending time with motivated people can have the individual energize their own enthusiasm for sobriety. Likewise, spending too much time with those individuals who are cynical about recovery can drain enthusiasm.
* Helping other people can be a wonderful way to stay enthusiastic about sobriety. This is why service is such a key element of groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.