Addiction recovery can be a long and bumpy road marked by different milestones and wins in the process. Because of this, it’s important to set goals along the way to make the journey more manageable and streamlined. Goal setting in recovery is considered a crucial part of the treatment process.
While the main goal of recovery is to become and remain free from addiction, this is a big picture goal. Goal setting in recovery involves creating several manageable and small goals along the way. These goals will vary from person to person; no two cases of addiction treatment and recovery are the same. A person may set goals like completing a treatment program, finding a rehab to enroll in, or simply joining a support group.
These goals will depend on the person and the addiction at hand, there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to goal setting in recovery. Just as long as the main goal remains to overcome your addiction and stay clean of drugs in the future. Everyone has their own pace when it comes to getting addiction treatment help and setting their personal goals.
The Importance of Setting Goals
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Recovering from addiction is not a quick and easy process. Not only does the recovery process take time, but it also requires patience and discipline during the process. While it would be nice to magically recover after a drug and alcohol detox, the truth is a much longer and complex journey. Goal setting in recovery is especially important because it allows people to figure out specifically what they need to reach a bigger goal.
When someone initially begins treatment, it can be very overwhelming to pick where to begin and where to go. A person may know the primary goal (ending substance use), but they may not know exactly how to reach it. Goal setting in recovery can break down the bigger picture into smaller, more manageable options. It can also help open the door for more creativity and other hobbies you may not have known you had an interest in.
When someone sets goals and milestones during recovery, they can slowly make their way towards sobriety. Studies also show that goal setting in recovery can reduce the chance of future drinking and drug use. Additionally, goals don’t need to be particularly related to sobriety either, a person can create goals for several areas of their life. A person may use this method to create goals for their work, relationships, financial health, or any other part of their life.
Changing Habits in Your Day-to-Day Life
When an individual becomes dependent or addicted to a drug, they end up developing a habit. Using drugs or obtaining drugs becomes part of their daily or weekly routine. When drugs are taken out of the equation, it’s important for a person to find healthy alternatives to this time spent. Creating goals also involves changing your routine and picking up newer and better habits. Developing a routine and sticking to it is a goal in itself. Consider these pointers during the process:
- Find healthy activities to keep the brain busy – Recovering from addiction gives people an opportunity to explore new outlets and hobbies. Reading a book, taking up drawing, learning an instrument, or writing are all healthy activities to keep the brain distracted. Make a goal to try something new and stick with it.
- Don’t forget to remain consistent – Saying you’ll do something is different from actually sticking with it. Consider a week or a month from now if you will be sticking to your word. Success in recovery involves consistency and discipline throughout the journey.
- Keeping a daily schedule – Small goals like working out every other day or going for a jog on a set day can be therapeutic and can help bring order to your life. Keeping a structure goes hand in hand with goal setting in recovery. Creating a pattern of normal living can do wonders when it comes to life during and after treatment.
Keeping a planner or a calendar can be a great way to keep a set schedule for your daily activities. While it may seem small, introducing structure in your life can be a great way to remain occupied and away from potential triggers. Boredom and loneliness can both be triggers for drug abuse as well. Staying occupied and on track is a great way to be both mentally and physically healthy.
How to Achieve Effective Goal Setting in Recovery
Goal setting in recovery may sound easy enough but there are several things to keep in mind when you first begin the process. One of the techniques a person can use is step-by-step goal setting. The first step to the process is to take a step back and think about your current situation.
Think about what could be different and the different ways you can make your way towards those goals. This can be therapeutic and motivating for the future. With this in mind, everyone’s recovery and goals will look different from each other.
A helpful tool to keep in mind when creating these goals and ideas is to focus on SMART goals. Chances are you may have heard of this method before (as it can be applied to many things, including goal setting during recovery). ‘SMART’ stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. When practicing goal setting in recovery, it’s important to set goals (big or small) that fit these criteria.
- Specific: Goals during recovery should be specific, stay away from broad goals like ‘I want to fix my personal relationships’ focus more on the who, what, and how.
- Measurable: Making goals measurable can help keep track of the journey. Focus on quantifiable goals like a certain amount of something, such as choosing to drink 2 glasses of water every day.
- Achievable: While we may have broad and ambitious goals, it’s important to be realistic with our goal setting in recovery. Think realistically and think about the obstacles involved in your goals. Wanting to become sober in 3 weeks is not a realistic or achievable goal, no matter how hard you try. Instead, think about what you want to achieve in a reasonable amount of time. You can speak with your addiction treatment specialist about how to figure out what’s achievable for you in regards to timelines!
- Relevant: Goal setting in recovery should focus on overcoming drug addiction and becoming sober. They should be meaningful and relevant to the broader goal. (This can be focused on mental and physical health as well.)
- Time-Bound: Putting a deadline on your goals during recovery is important. Specifying a specific time frame or date can help a person stay on track with their goals. Working with counselors is also a great way to set goals and specific time frames. Be realistic and set a time frame for your efforts.
Following SMART goals is crucial to goal setting in recovery. Think logically and be honest about your progress and goals. Each person has their own pace and goals, no matter how big or small. When it comes to goal setting in recovery, you don’t have to do it alone. Therapists and counselors can be a great help when setting a set of milestones and goals during recovery. Once these specific goals have been set, the next step is to stay consistent and on track.
Staying Consistent With Recovery Goals
When it comes to goal setting in recovery – creating and setting the goals is only part of the process. After a particular set of goals has been established, the next part is to stick to these goals and get over the finish line. As with anything in life, achieving a goal or a milestone takes patience, time, and discipline. Even on those days where you may not feel like doing anything, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to keep pushing forward.
So what’s the best way to stick to recovery goals? One of the ways you can stay on track is to not be too ambitious. Setting too many goals and attempting to reach them all can spell disaster. To stay consistent, it’s better to avoid burnout and be realistic. Find a reasonable pace and take on a small number of goals at a time. Write down the goals in a journal or notebook, this can be a great way to visualize the goals on paper.
Another way to stay consistent is to create a supportive and consistent environment. This is done by surrounding yourself with those who truly care about your wellbeing and goal towards sobriety. This can help with encouragement and can help you maintain motivation to keep moving forward. Having a supportive group to cheer you on and be by your side can make the journey that much more fulfilling.
Take the First Step Towards Recovery Today
Setting goals in recovery is a vital part of the journey towards recovery. However, the first step is getting comprehensive treatment from a trusted rehab center. Free by the Sea offers excellent personalized treatment for you and your loved ones. It’s never too late to turn things around for the better. Give us a call today to learn about our addiction treatment program and resources.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.