With any kind of addiction, it’s important to set yourself realistic goals when you start the recovery process. This isn’t going to happen overnight, and recovery itself comes with lots of challenges that you’ll have to learn to overcome with time.
Managing your expectations (and those of your loved ones) is key to recovery and provides you with a healthy framework to guide you through. On the other hand, if your expectations are unrealistic, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Realistic expectations about alcohol recovery is really important, for several reasons:
- It helps you prepare mentally for the ups and downs you’ll probably experience over the coming days, weeks and months
- It avoids nasty surprises – if you’re prepared for all eventualities and think honestly about what could go wrong, you’re more likely to be able to deal with them
- It minimises stress. People who put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect are more likely to suffer with stress related illnesses and depression – which also leads to wanting to drink more
- It delivers better results. It’s important to remember we’re all human, so don’t expect too much from yourself in the early stages and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you can achieve.
These methods are really helpful for setting achievable recovery goals:
Be kind to yourself
Being realistic about recovery means being kind and patient with yourself. There will be some days when you do great, and others when you feel in desperate need of a drink and relapse. If that happens, it’s important to accept that it happened and learn from it, rather than beating yourself up and reinforcing negative feelings about yourself. Treating yourself with kindness is key to staying on course and achieving your goals.
Set achievable goals
Any plan needs to be broken down into achievable goals, so set yourself some targets and monitor them as you go. One day without drink is a big achievement, so be proud of yourself and tick it off your list. You’ll be amazed by how the days turn into weeks, months and years when you’re patient with yourself.
Learn as much as you can
Educating yourself about alcohol and the recovery process can be hugely beneficial. Recovery will take a different path for everyone, but by understanding the key issues about how addiction works and how to overcome them you’ll be much better equipped to stay on track.
Focus on health, not alcohol
Alcohol abuse has far reaching effects on our physical and mental health, so instead of thinking about giving up drinking, flip it on its head and focus on gaining a healthier, happier you. By adopting healthier habits you will start to see positive changes in yourself which will spur you on to continue your journey to recovery.
Acknowledge your achievements
Addiction is often linked to negative self–image that can be deep rooted from many years ago. So, change the way you see yourself and don’t be afraid to be proud of what you achieve. Every time you have a positive experience or refuse a drink, acknowledge it and praise yourself. When you change your self-talk, wonderful things can start to happen.
This isn’t a race with a clear finish line, so it’s hard to set a clear date for when you will be alcohol free. Being realistic about your recovery means acknowledging the fact that this is going to be a road that’s full of twists and turns, so be prepared for barriers and learn from them, rather than putting yourself under more pressure.