The Dangers of Getting Stuck in Recovery
Getting stuck in recovery puts us at risk. It can mean we turn to maladaptive behaviors (e.g. comfort eating or shopping addiction) to make ourselves feel a bit better. It can also lead to a deterioration in our behavior such as anger outburst, isolating from others, or acting in a dishonest way. The frustration of being stuck also greatly increases the risk of relapse.
So why is it that we become stuck?
Here are 6 of the most common blocks to recovery:
1. Ambivalence Towards Recovery
To say that you are ambivalent means that you are in ‘two minds’ about something. This would be the case if you want to recover from the pain of addiction, yet you still hold onto a secret hope that you could one day drink or use drugs safely again. Making a major change life change like this requires your full commitment, and any ambivalence can mean your motivation to change is not sufficient to ensure your success.
2. Trying to Be a Caterpillar with Wings
For a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it needs to completely let go of being a caterpillar. The same applies to addiction recovery. To be a ‘caterpillar with wings’ means that you have stopped drinking or using drugs, but you still hold onto your old drug using life. This is a huge obstacle to recovery, and it puts you at high risk of relapse.
It can be such a relief to discover that life without drugs is not only possible, but also enjoyable, that we feel a surge in confidence. Staying clean and sober becomes so easy that we may develop ‘pink cloud syndrome’. The danger here is we become so confident that we stop doing the things we need to do to maintain our recovery.
4. Inability to Deal with Emotions
It is often our inability to deal with our feelings that makes alcohol and drugs so attractive in the first place. It is therefore vital that we develop some new coping strategies for dealing with emotions or this will be a major obstacle to recovery. Emotions are very much part of the human experience and anything we do to escape them is usually going to end badly.
5. Lack of Support
Support can greatly increase your likelihood of remaining free of addiction. By ‘sticking with the winners’, you become inspired and motivated to continue the process of change that puts a safe distance between you and addiction.
There is a well-known saying in recovery circles, ‘you are only as sick as your secrets’. Engaging in dishonest behavior is an obstacle to progress, and it is a common warning sign of an impending relapse.