The first critical step for beating complacency in addiction is to listen to the advice of other people in recovery.
You have to be open minded in order to overcome complacency.
Let’s take a step back here and define complacency as it relates to alcoholism or addiction recovery.
Complacency is when a recovering addict or alcoholic stops making positive progress in their life and, as a result, they are in danger of relapse.
This can be demonstrated in many different ways. One way is through someone who suddenly quits going to AA or NA meetings entirely. Such people often relapse as a result of this change.
Other people may slowly drift away from the idea of personal growth and they stop challenging themselves to improve their life. Such people often relapse as well.
So the question is, how do we avoid this trap? How do we make sure that do not slip into complacency?
As suggested already, you should stay open to new advice in your life. If no one can tell you anything then you are in denial and you are running your life on auto pilot and you are probably going to crash at some point. If you are not open to advice and new ideas then you cannot see the flaws in your own logic.
We cannot see the immediate problems that are right under our own nose. And yet it is fairly easy to tell another person what is wrong with their own life or what they should be doing differently. Which is why they often say in Narcotics Anonymous that “we are each other’s eyes and ears.” It is easy to see the flaws in others, yet difficult to see them in ourselves. And every person initially believes that they can judge themselves objectively, in the same way that they are judging others. But you can’t. You need the help and insight from other people in order to see the changes that you need to make in your life.
So that is the first critical tip: Be open to advice and insight from other people. Without this critical advice, you will not be able to stay on a path of personal growth indefinitely. You have to keep correcting course in recovery, and sometimes you cannot see the corrections that need to be made without the help of others.
Second of all, you need to be on a path of personal growth and holistic health. It is not acceptable to just say “I am going to practice acceptance today and prop my feet up and relax.” That is not serving you well in recovery. That attitude of acceptance can lead you to relapse. There is a saying in the Big Book of AA in one of the personal stories that is often quoted: “Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today.” Well, not quite true. Acceptance should be the answer to all of your problems that are beyond your control. But as the serenity prayer indicates, if you have some control over something, then it is your responsibility to change it or fix it. We cannot sit back and relax and coast through our sobriety and expect to remain clean and sober. We must take positive action.
How do you do this in terms of holistic health? You must consistently assess your own life, your own life situation, and your daily habits. And you must also ask for advice and insight in terms of assessing your own problems and issues. Then you must make an active plan to address those pain points in your life and try to fix them.
Traditional recovery programs often address spirituality only. But in order to truly overcome complacency you will want to address your health in all of the following areas: Spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and social. In other words, are you hanging around with positive people? Are you avoiding toxic influences?
Are you working on gratitude and helping others?
Are you improving your physical health, your fitness, your sleep habits, your nutrition? Are you still smoking cigarettes?
Are you emotionally stable? Could you be happier if you worked at it? Could you reduce stress in your life?
Are you generating ideas and brainstorming every day? Are you actively planning your personal growth? Are you digging to find the next important changes to make in your life?
Are you mentally stable and healthy? Do you need medical or psychiatric help in order to become more stable in these areas? Are you asking for help and taking advice from professionals?
And so on. It is not just one area of your health that needs to be addressed–it is all of these areas and more. And it is your responsibility to pursue this kind of personal growth in recovery. No one is going to do it for you. The motivation to improve yourself and your life must come from within. But you should always remember to reach out and ask for help and advice so that you can continuously find new pain points in your life, fix them, and keep moving forward.
And finally, in order to overcome complacency I believe that you need to be giving back and helping others in some fashion. This is the only way that you can stay grounded in some of the simple principles of recovery. For example, it is easy to forget to push yourself towards personal growth all the time, but if you are helping a newcomer in recovery and instructing them on how to achieve personal growth, then it reinforces those lessons in your own mind.
Working with others, especially newcomers in recovery, is a technique that helps people when nothing else will really work to help them. In other words, genuinely reaching out and helping someone to achieve sobriety will give you a good feeling inside that cannot really be achieved any other way. It is a selfless and priceless act of service that is rewarded internally in such a way that it will help you to remain clean and sober more than anything else possibly could.
There are many different ways to do this sort of service work. One, you can start going to AA meetings, get a sponsor, and eventually become a sponsor yourself. Two, you can find employment or work through the field of substance abuse treatment, and reach out and help people that way. Or three, you can simply be aware of your community and the problems that may exist within it, and then offer help accordingly. It is part of our responsibility in recovery to help others who may be reaching out while struggling in addiction. We should naturally want to give back to such people and help them to find their way to recovery.
If you are doing this sort of service work then you cannot, by definition, be complacent at that time. The act of service is automatically an act of personal growth.