Understanding the role of expectations in a key aspect of preventing addiction relapse. If you’re recovering from alcohol or substance abuse, the last thing you want to think about is relapsing. Unfortunately, that’s when it happens the most. It’s far too easy to believe that recovery is permanent.
While it can seem that way at times, it’s very easy to relapse, and several factors can play into it.
Some of the most common causes of relapse include boredom, fear, and resentment.
One of the most significant factors in relapsing is the role of expectations. Expectations can help to guide your recovery. Having unrealistic expectations will only make a full recovery seem impossible.
So, how can you better understand how expectations and addiction relapse are connected? What can you do to manage those expectations better?
Understanding Unrealistic Expectations
Part of the recovery process is setting goals for yourself. Goals come with expectations — that’s just natural. However, your expectations must be realistic. That’s why you need to develop several small goals for yourself, rather than one large one.
Realistic expectations allow you to reach those goals effectively. As a result, you’ll feel more motivated to keep working toward recovery.
Unfortunately, unrealistic expectations happen far too often. You might have an idea in your mind of how recovery should look. Or what you want your life to look like after the recovery process. Some common unrealistic expectations include:
- Thinking the recovery process will be easy
- Assuming you can handle it on your own
- Expecting immediate results
When those expectations aren’t met (because they aren’t realistic), you might become frustrated. You might start to think your recovery program doesn’t work. Or, you might even take all of the blame yourself and slip back into addiction.
How to Set Realistic Expectations
How can you make sure your expectations for recovery are realistic? First, understand that recovery is a process. Nothing is going to get “fixed” overnight. While you might feel impatient at times, trusting the process is essential.
Next, make sure you educate yourself as much as possible. That includes learning about addiction, how it impacts your mind and body, and how the recovery process works. The more you know about addiction, the more realistic your expectations can be.
You should also focus on your health overall. Don’t make the mistake of solely “getting over” your addiction. Instead, think about how you can improve your health. Addiction recovery is only a part of that. But, when you’re focused on your entire person, you’ll want to break free of those chains of addiction the right way — not by rushing.
Keeping Your Expectations in Check
Maintaining your expectations throughout the recovery process is crucial to avoid addiction relapse. You can do that by acknowledging the progress you’ve made. It’s okay to tell yourself that you’re doing a good job! By recognizing how far you’ve come, it will make it harder to fall back.
You can also manage your expectations by reaching out for support. Remember, one of the most unreasonable expectations you can have is thinking you can do this alone.
Whether you need someone to talk to or you feel like you might be slipping, reach out to your support system as often as possible. That might be a family member or friend. Or it could be a recovery group or therapist.
Alcohol addiction counseling or substance abuse counseling can make a big difference in your overall recovery. Talking to a counselor can help you manage your expectations realistically. In doing so, you can reduce your risk of addiction relapse and keep moving forward.
Please contact me today if you need support in your addiction recovery or visit my Alcohol Addiction Counseling page to learn more.