I have always been interested to observe exactly which recovering alcoholic behavior leads to success, and what behavior leads to relapse.
Living in long term rehab for almost 2 full years allowed me to see quite a bit of evidence. Then I worked in a rehab center for about 6 years straight, and so I got to witness quite a bit more evidence about what behaviors work well for recovery and which do not.
So let’s take a look at what sort of things lead to success in recovery.
Bad behaviors for alcoholics who want to stay sober
While I lived in long term rehab and watched countless people relapse while I was living there, I started to see a pattern. The first such pattern that jumped out at me was this one:
* Those who got into new relationships in early recovery always relapsed.
They tell you that in AA meetings and try to warn people off, but of course no one really listens. And it is a weak argument because it is difficult to explain exactly what makes early relationships so dangerous for newly recovering alcoholics and addicts.
I am not going to try to explain why it is so dangerous. I am only pointing out that, while I lived in long term rehab, I watched about 30 to 40 men relapse over the course of 2 years, and nearly every single one of those relapses was over a woman. I would say it was over 80 percent of them.
Don’t worry about WHY this is the case. Just heed the warning.
The second behavior that I would suggest for people to avoid is glorification. I am not sure that you can just switch this on and off, rather, it seems like it is more a predictor of success based on maturity level.
What does that mean?
It means that if someone is in treatment for alcoholism, and that person is still talking about the good times that they had with booze, or how awesome an experience they had on a certain drug, that person is not yet ready to be clean and sober. It is a question of maturity. They have not had enough pain yet from their addiction. So if they are glorifying drug and alcohol use, they are not going to make it. They will not remain sober.
Does this mean that if you are glorifying drugs that you just need to stop doing so? Yes and no. Rather, it probably means that you are just not ready to be sober yet.
And the third behavior that you want to avoid in recovery is plain old dishonesty. Anyone who is still trying to manipulate the situation for their benefit is not going to remain clean and sober. The reason behind this is because they are going to have to take on the guilt and the shame of not being totally honest in every area of their life. When you do this it builds up and keeps building until you are forced to self medicate in order to live with the guilt.
Dishonesty works in the short run because you can push the guilt and shame aside temporarily. But in the long run it catches up with you and overwhelms you so you end up drinking or using again.
Now there are other behaviors that you want to watch out for too that can sabotage your recovery efforts. For example, you will want to avoid behaviors such as:
* Resentment towards others.
* Self pity and feeling sorry for yourself.
* Playing a victim role.
* Self sabotage.
And so on. Positive action is the key. Do something positive for your recovery, every single day. This is the best way forward. Eliminate destructive behaviors and then embrace positive action. That is really the only way to completely rebuild your life from scratch in recovery.