One thing I noticed after I had been clean and sober for a few months in recovery (and could finally start noticing things again!) was that everyone around me was relapsing. Well, not quite everyone, but darn near everyone. I mean it was ridiculous. I could not help but notice that just about everyone who comes into recovery relapses, and quite quickly at that.
Now if you have some close friends in recovery then you still get some hope when they manage to stay clean and sober, but unbelievably (to me anyway), some of them will relapse too! In fact, I was living in long term treatment for the first 20 months of my sobriety, and I could not believe how many people I saw who came into long term treatment with me but ended up relapsing. I would have thought that their chances were much better due to the overwhelming level of support they were getting. It seemed that this was not the case. This points to the idea that success in recovery is more about internal factors and personal motivation than it is about the level of support you have or the exact program you follow to try and stay clean.
So we are bound to hear about how the success rates in recovery are not so great. In fact, to most people, they are downright scary. What to do about it? Here are my suggestions:
1) Let it intimidate you a bit – some people would advise the opposite. But I was intimidated by the horrible success rates in early recovery, and here I am still clean and sober at 8 years plus. So I have to recommend a similar path. Give your addiction the respect it deserves and recognize that recovery is a monumental task.
2) Let the task at hand inspire you – now that you realize that staying clean and sober is no easy task, rise up to the challenge and use this knowledge to spur you on towards future growth. Understand that in order to make it in recovery, you are going to have to make drastic changes and make real progress in your life. This is exciting!
3) Do not use it as an excuse – never use the numbers as an excuse to give up or to relapse. Many people do stay clean and sober for long periods of time, and there really are no excuses. If you want it bad enough then there is opportunity for you to find support in recovery.
4) Let it drive you to action – if you take daily action towards staying clean, you are going to find success in recovery. It is only after we get lazy with our recovery efforts that we become vulnerable to relapse. Let the lousy success rates inspire you to take action every single day. Remember that the only long term enemy in recovery is complacency. To overcome this we must take consistent action in our lives.
The success rates in recovery may be a bit daunting but people do recover and you can be one of them. Just use the negative statistics you hear and turn them into a positive by using the techniques listed above.
You can have recovery if you truly want it….very few people actually do want it though. It is yours for the taking and no lousy success rates have the power to take your sobriety away from you.