The more realistic you are about what you’re going through, the better the chances that you’ll recover successfully. Keep reading to learn more.
If you’re trying to navigate the delicate waters of an addiction, unrealistic expectations can be dangerous. Whilst it’s great to have lofty goals when you’re in a healthy place in your life, when you’re struggling, it’s essential that you have realistic expectations to guide your journey and measure your progress.
When you’re working with a professional Orange County drug rehab center or facility in your area, you’ll have someone to guide you through the process. However, it’s common for many people to have “perfectionist” tendencies and ideals of themselves.
Let’s look at unrealistic versus realistic expectations here and then delve into how to set appropriate progress milestones for your unique journey.
The Dangers of Unrealistic Expectations
Anyone who has ever attempted a strict diet only to binge after days of starving themselves knows the dangers of extreme expectations. Many times, that first setback is the end of the diet (or goal), as the individual sees themselves as a failure and refuses to try again, expecting the same result.
The reality is that it wasn’t the fault of the dieter. It was simply that their expectations were unrealistic. In the case of someone attempting to recover from substance use, these unrealistic expectations could cause you to slip back into your old habits.
Here are a few examples of unrealistic expectations along the path to sobriety:
- You’ll never have a craving.
- You’ll never have a relapse.
- Treatment and recovery will be smooth sailing.
- It’s easy to quit when you decide you want to.
- Recovery will always be a forward movement with no backslides.
The more of a perfectionist you are, the more these expectations become dangerous. Give yourself the grace you’d give to someone else or the grace you needed as a child, and set realistic expectations instead.
Setting Realistic Expectations
With a firmer grip on what you can expect to go through along your recovery journey, you can handle disappointments and setbacks better. Yes, you want to prevent a relapse, but there are other reasons why these expectations are integral to your sobriety.
For one thing, you’ll be better equipped to handle obstacles as they arise because you expect them to show up in one form or another. When a challenge presents itself, you’ll have a plan of action on how to proceed. Those challenges may still be stressful, but since you expected them and were prepared for obstacles, you’ll be able to handle them with less emotional anxiety and stress.
So, what does setting realistic expectations look like? While every person’s journey is different, here are a few things you can use to gauge your progress:
- You can expect your recovery to be a lifelong work in progress. You may have long periods of no temptation at all, only to unexpectedly get a strong craving to use your substance again. That doesn’t mean you’re sliding. It’s normal.
- You can expect that you’ll learn a lot about the process, and by learning how it works, you’ll have a better timeline to apply to yourself.
- You can expect to learn a lot about the dangers of your preferred substances. Armed with the information of how deadly the drug is, you may be more likely to say no to it in the future.
- You can expect to need help staying sober. In treatment, you’ll learn about finding a person to reach out to when you’re feeling low and engaging with a support team. Asking for help is never a weakness. It takes a brave person to reach out and admit they’re struggling.
Ensure your first expectation is your health. Change your habits as you can to keep yourself on track to recovery through mental and physical wellness. Acknowledge any backsliding you do, and reset your goals even stronger to get back on target.
Overall, being realistic with the process, your strengths and weaknesses, and your goals will help you get and remain sober. But the most important thing to remember is to be honest with yourself and your support system every time you feel tempted to fall back into your old, dangerous habits.