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7 Sure-Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Recovery

Achieving recovery is a task that requires determination, reflection and dedication. You’ve worked hard for your sobriety; don’t let anyone put you in a situation that jeopardizes all your achievements.

Let’s take a look at some of activities that are known for ruining recovery.

Jumping Into a Relationship

Too often I see men and women get out of prison and immediately jump into the arms of the first person who pays them attention. Shortly thereafter, the spark dies, emotional drama ensues and the relationship falls apart. The first year of recovery should be about your personal growth, because in order to be in a healthy relationship, you must first be the healthiest “you.” So, devote the time and commitment toward healing, because in the end, that’s going to lead you to a relationship worth waiting for.

A Lack of Outside Interests

Hobbies are great in that they can bring you into contact with others who share the same interest. Plus, they allow you to have fun, an essential element in recovery. By focusing on something other than your abstinence from drugs and alcohol, you have a much better shot at success.

Dating Someone Who is Using

This should be self-explanatory, so don’t even put yourself in this situation. Whether you think you can do it, you’re probably not as strong as you think and the temptation is great. I work with convicted felons – many of whom are addicts – and as soon as they hook up with someone who’s using, their own downfall is swift.

A Lack of Healthy Coping Skills

Addicts have learned to cope with painful emotions and difficult situations in one way:  by using.  When you enter treatment, you learn healthy ways to deal with stress, pain, anger and shame that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. By not taking the time to learn what works for you, you run the risk of stuffing your emotions, and thus, relapsing.

Placing Yourself In Bad Situations

You’re only as good as who you surround yourself with, so if you choose to go right back to your drinking buddies, chances are, you’re going to start drinking again, too. Working with ex-prisoners, I see the positive effect of requiring them to go to a new city away from their old crowd upon release. By forming new, positive relationships, the probability of long-term sobriety has proven to be much higher.

A Lack of Self-Awareness

Being aware of the risks before they present themselves is an essential component of maintaining your recovery.  For me, being on the water immediately triggers a craving for Bud Light. Knowing this, I avoid boating at all costs. After all, it’s not worth the temptation or the consequences.

Embracing That “Stinking Thinking”

Stinking Thinking refers to the destructive and dysfunctional thinking patterns of alcoholics – a phrase that those in AA know all too well. Also known as the “dry drunk,” these individuals have reverted to old patterns of thinking – such as dishonesty, irresponsibility and resentment – that may make them relapse.  Therefore, it’s important to be cognizant of when these negative thoughts rear their ugly head. Journaling, showing gratitude, or even seeking professional help, are all ways to combat this potential roadblock.


Additional Reading: Four Positive Affirmations to Strengthen Your Recovery

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