Motivation in your recovery
When people first break free from the shackles of addiction, they’re often highly motivated. This new life is exciting and full of possibilities and opportunities. However, as time passes, the novelty of recovery slides away. Even when a sober existence is far more rewarding than that of an addict, people can take things for granted. At some point the motivation to avoid substances will begin to wane and the risk of falling into relapse is significantly heightened. Therefore, one of addiction recovery’s biggest challenges is staying motivated. Addiction recovery rates are high when people remain in the right mindset.
The concept of people giving up an addiction and automatically returning to happily ever after is irrational and mythical. This is because there is a reason the addiction started, and that reason may still be there upon addiction recovery. An inability to cope with life is one of the common reasons for substance abuse – and an inability to rely on effective coping strategies. If someone just gives up drugs or alcohol without making other changes then they will soon be back to square one. It’s essential that an addiction recovery is complemented with building a good life, and this is the reason that recovery is a process and not an event.
What is motivation?
To simplify, motivation is the driving force behind someone doing something.
There are two distinct types of motivation – intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. If someone is doing things because they feel it’s good or the right thing to do, this is defined as intrinsic motivation. If someone does something because of external influence or external pressure, this would be defined as extrinsic motivation.
Saying that someone lacks motivation has negative connotations, even though this criticism is sometimes unwarranted. The problem often is not a lack of motivation, but that people are motivated to do what people would likely determine to be the wrong things.
Why do people lose motivation in a long-term recovery?
There are several reasons why people lose motivation after months or years of being free of drugs or alcohol. The reasons are numerous but the most common crop up time after time.
Recovering addicts may well be highly enthusiastic in the early stages of recovery but may run out of steam. This is especially prevalent in people who went through pink cloud syndrome – this occurs when people become so high on life as a consequence of their recovery, they lose a sense of reality and sobriety is taken for granted. When this “pink cloud” dissipates, the return to normality can bring someone down with a bump.
When someone enters their recovery with unrealistic expectations, this can lead to disappointment when things don’t go right. In turn, this saps motivation. The truth is that individuals don’t fall into addiction overnight, nor will they be able to correct any damage in the same timeframe. Giving up drugs or alcohol will inevitably lead to a happier, better life but recovery addiction is just the beginning of a lifelong journey.
A recovering addict can also suffer from their memories. The memory of an addiction and the physical and mental pain that an addiction brings can dim over time and allow someone to overthink the good times they felt because of abusing drugs or alcohol. This is often described as “romancing” an old addiction and it can result in individuals losing their motivation to abstain.
And of course, some people just lose their way during recovery and forget what they have learned to help them to have a successful recovery from addiction.
The loss of motivation in recovery is very dangerous – it means that an individual may be on the point of suffering from a relapse back into addiction as their recovery is no longer satisfying. Even if there’s no relapse, a recovering addict can develop what is known as dry drunk syndrome. This is where someone sees being sober as having similarities to a prison sentence. This is an unhappy recovery and there is no emotional sobriety, which causes resentment and anger.
Sobriety and serenity
Recovering addicts who build a successful life after addiction must develop emotional sobriety – effectively developing the ability to deal with emotions positively. This kind of individual, someone who is emotionally sober, does not need to seek solace from substances.
Another trait that someone can develop in sobriety is that of serenity. This is similar to emotional sobriety but usually takes longer to develop. This is a stage of recovery where an individual can handle whatever happens in their life without a great deal of fuss. Serenity develops when constantly faced with and dealing with challenges, which in turn allows an individual to learn new coping strategies. When someone reaches this stage of sobriety, they can feel happy irrespective of external issues. This is an essential addiction recovery tool.
How to stay motivated during recovery
There are a number of ways to ensure you stay motivated during a long-term recovery.
One of the most effective ways is to help other people who are in the same position as you. This reminds people who are recovering where they have come from and where they would be headed back to in the event of a relapse. In effect, working with others helps to strengthen and reinforce their own recovery. This is also true of involvement in an addiction recovery community. Many people choose to involve themselves in online addiction recovery support groups or as part of a recovery fellowship.
Some people elect to keep a journal of their progress and find it helps them to maintain their recovery motivation. This means that self-reflection on their own experiences can help them to see progress and if there is a downturn in levels of motivation, a recovering addict can always go back to prior journal entries to remind themselves of their own progress. Some people prefer to do this via digital mediums, such as via blogs, vlogs or podcasts. This again allows the involvement of the addiction recovery community and is an excellent support mechanism.
Some people find that a more spiritual path helps with motivation levels. Recovering addicts often speak of the benefits of meditation or yoga. Some people also like to do more exercise than they previously have.
Your ongoing addiction recovery
The Rehab Clinic Group is here to provide professional, compassionate care to help you through the difficult times after you recover from addiction. If you are concerned the effectiveness of your recovery is wearing off, please call us today on 0800 470 0382 or text HELP to 83222 and we can help to put you in the right frame of mind.