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Tempering Expectations for Addiction Recovery

In Recovery by Tree House Recovery

It’s hard to know what to expect in addiction recovery. Those deciding to seek help for a substance use disorder have to believe that life will improve after treatment. Otherwise, they will never overcome the internal resistance to ask for help. Treatment is often sold using a familiar narrative: “My life was terrible because of substance use. Then I got treatment and now my life is great.” Unfortunately, this narrative is unrealistic and fails to acknowledge the setbacks that lie between active addiction and a great sober life. Expecting too much too soon and thinking that everything will turn around after a month of sobriety often results in disappointment. It takes a while to sort out the problems created during active addiction. Experiencing challenges in early recovery is normal. While trusting the process is difficult and uncomfortable at times, things do get easier over time.


Recovery Is Not a Straight Line

Keep in mind that recovery isn’t linear. Most people don’t hit rock bottom, ask for help, improve steadily throughout treatment, then continue seamlessly when they return home. Every step is full of doubts, challenges, and frustrations. Everyone wonders at some point if they’re wasting their time attempting sobriety. Many people experience slips and relapses and have to try again. It’s normal to take a few steps forward and then a step back. Growth comes in spurts. What matters is your commitment to the journey. 


There Are Aspects of Recovery You Can’t Control

Another thing to consider is that there are many aspects of recovery that you have little or no control over. Some people may be fortunate enough to have a lot of family support while others are more or less on their own. Many experience extreme hardship early on in their recovery while others are lucky enough to have smooth sailing throughout their first year sober. Maybe you have a certain relationship in mind that you desperately want to mend, but your friend or loved one isn’t ready to reconnect. When it comes to external factors of recovery, it is important to practice letting go. All you can really do is focus on your internal change and trust that, eventually, it will be reflected in your external environment. Show up daily committed to your personal work, and the rest will fall into place as it is meant to.


Let Go of the Results

Perhaps the best way to approach recovery is to let go of expectations completely. Instead, practice openness to whatever life brings your way. From this perspective, you can experience gratitude for the good and more difficult experiences as they are all opportunities to learn and grow in your recovery. Letting go of expectations also eliminates the tendency to experience disappointment or resentment when things don’t go your way. When you aren’t attached to a specific result or outcome, the need to manipulate and control your surroundings is eliminated. Instead, you are free to enjoy the ebb and flow of life.


Need Support?

Nothing worth doing is easy. Recovering from addiction is no exception. From a big-picture perspective, however, getting sober is perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Therefore, it is absolutely worth the fight. At Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon, we help men achieve their recovery goals. To learn more about our unique treatment program, call us today, at (503) 850-2474