Defining small objectives WILL build Recovery

Any program or plan of action requires defining objectives. But, it’s really important to understand the capability of a person or a group to meet those objectives. That’s the key, really, to any program: Defining objectives that can be met and the measures by which others can know those objectives are met.

Regardless of the many opinions substance abuse treatment, successful treatment depends upon the substance abuser’s commitment to the program. He or she has to see and come to understand the harm the substance has upon his or her life. No one can feel that harm on the substance abuser’s behalf: Substance abusers will do all they can to continue use and there’s very little anyone can do to make a person stop a behavior that’s so ingrained that the substance abuser may not even understand it. Physical and psychological addiction is layered and made all the more complex by biological, social, and spiritual elements. Abstinence may be a goal, but at first, perhaps a more realistic outcome and objective is: Get a job or take a shower or eat a healthy meal. Addiction doesn’t happen overnight; neither does recovery.

What’s worse is when a substance abuser begins to internalize the negative energy around him or her. It may seem like an excuse and maybe it can be, but if someone takes in too much bad juju, he or she can just say, “If I’m a piece of crap, then I’ll be a piece of crap.” This attitude is often born out of the idea that if a person stops using, things are good. The “use or not-use” mentality can work against a treatment program because there’s almost always some underlying issue driving the use in the first place and until that underlying issue is worked out, the use is a symptom and not the root cause that needs to be “cured.”

Plus, looking at small gains along a path towards health will provide encouragement. If a person does anything that yields a healthy or positive outcome, that behavior should be acknowledged as a gain. These small, positive behaviors will add up over time and in adding up, they can become far more important that using. But, if the focus in recovery is always on the substance abuse, that focus only yields more attention to the substance, which probably leads to more desire to use the substance. Giving anything power, even if it’s negative power, still allow that thing to become stronger.

Therefore, if you are struggling with substance abuse: Look at all the opportunities in your life for healthy growth. Pick one that you can do, and then do it. Acknowledge to yourself that you met that one goal, and then do it again and add another. It can be as simple as stating that you are going to the gym, and then actually go to the gym. While I’m not saying that it’s ok to continue using, I am saying that the substance already has enough power, let’s not give it any more.


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