New Year’s Resolutions in Addiction Recovery

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New Year’s resolutions have become a tradition at the start of every new year, and most people choose resolutions that involve a commitment to something, such as losing weight or finding a new job. New Year’s resolutions can be a healthy step toward self-improvement, but too often, they are based on hopeful thoughts rather than plans of action.

For this reason, the majority of people don’t stick to their New Year’s goals. Weeks or even months later, the resolution becomes a thing of the past. Obviously, all resolutions are important, but if we don’t break down the goal into small steps and have a course of action in mind, it’s very easy to fall back on our goals. While losing weight, pursuing a new career path and clearing up debt are all meaningful, there are some intents that cannot be abandoned.

For individuals struggling with addiction, the New Year is a time of radical change. An addict dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction may finally make the decision to attend rehab. A recovering addict with some treatment under their wing may decide that they’re ready for a new step in their life, such as starting a new job or entering a relationship. Each year of recovery is one of hope and progress.

No matter where you are in addiction – seeking recovery, newly recovered or recovered – it’s critically important to continue making healthy steps forward, and the New Year can be an excellent time to do this. The New Year signifies a fresh start, and many people are working on their goals, creating a supportive, goal-oriented environment. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to raise your chances of staying focused on and committed to your goal.

Keep Resolutions Realistic

Your first effort is to keep your expectations realistic – something learned in recovery – so you may already be familiar with the importance of tangible goals. It’s easy to make ambitious decisions, but if they are unlikely to be achieved, this will lead to feelings of disappointment and failure. Instead, choose goals that are likely to be achieved when you put forth hard work and dedication.

Break Down Goals into Small, Manageable Steps

Recovering addicts must take things one day at a time. You can’t spoon too much onto your plate, as you need to work on critical life skills as well. When making New Year resolutions, don’t just look at the end result. Determine how you will get there. For instance, if you want to work on your sobriety, think about the steps that will allow you to do so: choosing a treatment center, determining the length of the treatment and so on. As you accomplish each step, you can feel successful from meeting your small goals so that you can achieve your larger one.

See the Bright Spots in Change

Making resolutions involves a strong psychological component. The act of meeting the smaller goals can be more empowering than reaching the final goal. For recovering addicts, the most important achievement is seeing how alterations in life can be constructive and healthy. When these positive feelings are associated with progress and change, it encourages people to continue pursuing their goals. It’s also a great stride when addicts realize that it’s not perfection they are after but continued progress.

Expect Some Setbacks (and know how to handle them)

In any recovery, there are setbacks. Some addicts relapse while others struggle infinitely with a particular relationship or past event. This is why the road to recovery cannot be achieved with hopeful thinking. It takes hard work. While relapse cannot be used as an excuse, it’s a healthy attitude when the addict knows that relapse is not failure and they can pick up the pieces and start working toward their recovery again.

It may seem natural and even expected to come up with positive resolutions for the New Year, and you may feel genuinely committed to them at the time. Yet for those individuals who are dealing with addiction, you can’t afford to set unrealistic goals that have a high potential for failure. While the end goal is important, the steps to get there are even more so. Through this progression, you will experience feelings of self-improvement and fulfillment. You will see that you can set and accomplish goals, improving your physical, emotional and psychological well being.

When you choose to make the commitment to recovery, there are 12-step programs and rehabilitation centers to help along the way. After all, recovery is not a one-time event. It’s a lifetime of setting goals and sticking to them.