I often heard other members of my support group say that they’re feeling insecure about their chances of staying on straight and narrow path. At the same time, I also admitted that the future doesn’t always seem too bright and that I frequently feel the pressure of different relapse triggers breathing down my neck.
To be honest, a quick look over the statistics won’t make you feel any more confident; the numbers show that a huge number of recovering addicts undergo several relapses on the road to recovery. Some of them muster the willpower to try again, some of them give up and return to their former destructive way of life.
What causes insecurity for the recovering alcoholic?
As I’ve previously mentioned, analyzing the statistics and relying too much on the value of the data can easily make you think that you don’t stand a chance to get sober. I mean, if others have failed before me, what makes me so special?
Low self esteem in conjunction with this data can be particularly harmful for a former addict’s confidence, because he tends to perceive the rest of the people struggling with alcohol dependency as stronger. Therefore, their inability to maintain sobriety also implies he won’t be able to make it.
Another thing that chips at your confidence and plants the seed of doubt is your first relapse. To put it simply, once you relapse for the first time, the failure is perceived as game breaker and your confidence depreciates, paving the way for the future ones.
How to beat insecurity at its own game
AA and other similar organizations emphasize the importance of boosting your confidence in the recovery process and they offer several solutions on how to do it. For instance, keeping the famous “gratitude journal” where you note down success in all its forms can help you realize that you’ve actually come a long way.
In support groups, we were often encouraged to stick with the members that had a positive attitude and who had actually managed to achieve long term sobriety; the point was that the negativity of others – in this case even your support group members – could also have an impact on your own perspective. It was also recommended to avoid the statistics, for this exact purpose.
What about complacency and excessive self confidence?
Well, here’s the thing: they can be equally devastating for the addict’s ability to maintain long term sobriety. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that you’ve grown impervious to the temptation of alcohol after a longer period of sobriety, but the truth is that the recovery process is never truly finalized. The feeling of security could lead you to believe that you can start drinking socially again, which is a big no-no for recovering alcoholics. In addition to that, you might become complacent and think that you no longer need to work hard in order to stay sober and that all the coping methods you’ve learned in rehab are now obsolete.
This is why it’s important to have a clear view of the distinction between confidence in your ability to recover and the complacency that could lead you down a wrong path, right in the arms of the impending relapse.