While recovery is the commonly-used term for overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction, it isn’t a black-and-white concept. Sure, some people have rigid definitions of what it means. But by only focusing on the elimination or reduction of mood-altering substances, many find that their goals feel shortsighted and unfulfilling.
It’s no surprise that even experts often disagree on what recovery really means. That’s because the term itself is subjective; recovery can mean many different things depending on who you ask.
With that in mind, there are a few markers to consider when you measure one’s success in recovery. Let’s break them down.
Ability To Function In The Real World
Can you secure and keep a job? Can you make your own doctor’s appointments and pay your rent on time? In other words, can you be a functioning adult who thinks and acts independently? Who handles stress and navigates responsibilities?
Unfortunately, many people struggling with addiction also struggle to function in the real world. There are many reasons for this deficit. For one, they may be in codependent relationships where others do the work for them. Second, they may be so consumed by the drugs or alcohol that all other responsibilities merely fall to the wayside.
Recovery isn’t just about finding freedom from drugs or alcohol. Recovery is about finding freedom within your own life. It’s about being able to feel productive and engaged with the world around you. That means being an active participant- rather than someone mooching, sitting, or sulking on the sidelines.
Many people neglect their relationships during the throes of addiction. That’s because drugs and alcohol are relentless and unforgiving with their time, money, and attention. Drugs and alcohol take all the resources- and then some.
Moreover, people lie, cheat, steal, and hurt their loved ones. The substances become so crucial that people sacrifice their morals and ethics for the next fix. As a result, they betray the trust of others- time and time again.
To measure success in recovery, you can examine the quality of your relationships. Are you generous with your time and love? Are you reliable and dependable? Do you listen fully and attentively? Do you respect the needs of others? Are you patient and compassionate?
Likewise, what kinds of people do you choose to have in your support? For example, if you’re still associating with other people who drink or use drugs, you’re tempting all kinds of problems.
Improved Mental Health
The notorious term, ‘dry drunk,’ refers to someone who abstains from alcohol but still engages in the same, problematic behaviors associated with drinking. For example, a dry drunk may still remain in codependent relationships. He might still gamble compulsively or overeat. He may still struggle with anger or depression or anxiety.
Dry drunks suffer immensely. They may be on the brink of relapse at any given moment. Even if they don’t relapse, their lives still feel miserable.
Success in recovery should coincide with improved mental health. You should be learning and implementing adaptive coping skills. You should feel more confident with yourself. Finally, you should be improving your impulse control and emotional regulation.
This work takes time and effort. Overcoming the drug or alcohol use isn’t enough. You need to be working on all the issues that caused you to use substances in the first place. Often, this means working on past traumas, struggles with interpersonal relationships, or co-occurring mental illnesses.
It’s no secret that people with addiction problems often have markedly low self-esteem. However, one’s recovery doesn’t just automatically boost their self-worth. Many people actually find themselves feeling more insecure and doubtful once they can no longer hide behind mood-altering substances.
You can measure success in recovery by examining how you feel about yourself. Do you take care of yourself physically and mentally? Do you prioritize self-care? Do you practice love and self-compassion when you make a mistake?
Self-worth means believing in yourself. It means being able to validate yourself without needing to depend on external sources. With that said, you don’t just grow to like yourself overnight. Self-esteem work often takes time, practice, and conscious effort. It also takes a willingness to believe that you’re worth the work.
Final Thoughts On Measuring Success In Recovery
Recovery is a lifelong process full of various victories and setbacks. You don’t just finish the work one day; ideally, you continue to evolve and transform.
At The Resurface Group, we measure success in recovery in a variety of ways. We want you to feel in control and satisfied with your life direction. We want you to determine your goals, and we want you to feel empowered in taking the steps towards meeting those goals.
No matter where you start, we’re here for the entire ride. Contact us today to get started!