Recovery from Addiction – The Challenges of Change


It is natural for us to be wary of and indeed resistant to change to some degree. If not,  things could very easily run alarmingly out of control. The prospect of change can,  though, be particularly anxiety-provoking for people who are trying to recover from addiction. This will be just as true for someone approaching a luxury alcohol rehab or exclusive drug rehab for help as for anyone else.

Unsure of recovery’s benefits

While they may accept that they cannot go on as they are, people are generally ambivalent when it comes to committing to change. Having as yet no experience of them, they may be unsure as to the benefits and find it difficult to take on trust the optimism of others about the potential rewards of recovery. People approaching the start of recovery will wonder what it is they will have to go through and how difficult that might prove to be. They will be worried about what it is they will have control of in the future and what not. Perhaps they sense — as is often the case — that one change may involve or lead to several others, which might add to their wariness.

Fear of the unknown

Addiction is inherently predictable. However self-destructive, its habitual patterns and processes are familiar and to that extent reassuring. Better the devil you know…, as the saying goes. Recovery is another matter entirely. It is unknown territory. It involves having to live and cope with the unfamiliar; not knowing what happens next; the essence of letting go often referred to by those in recovery.

Addiction involves automatic,  ingrained responses whereas the changes needed to enable recovery to involve thought,  reflection and trust. There is a price to be paid for change — having to engage with reality, however uncomfortable that may prove. At the start, because they are so consumed by addiction and with their confidence undermined, people may believe they are unable to change even as they accept help from the exclusive rehab into which they have stepped.

Addiction mindset affects the approach to recovery

Central to the addictive process is the “quick fix”. It comes as no surprise therefore that people suffering from addiction look for a similarly painless approach to recovery. This may be what motivates their initial contact with a private addiction treatment centre. They will often look self-defeatingly to the horizon and the ultimate goal, losing sight of the incremental steps necessary to establish and sustain recovery. Unfortunately, impatience to get the desired result without really entering into any process is likely — no matter what is offered by the best luxury treatment centres — to result in giving up and turning to the familiar relief offered by the addiction.

The importance of optimism – change is possible

For those offering support to the person seeking to change what helps? For a start, given the isolation and low self-esteem that tends to come with addiction, the offer of support itself provides vital encouragement. It is important to communicate optimistic messages that change is possible; that there is real hope with clear explanations as to why. Others in a similar situation who have attained the goal of a sustainable recovery can be an inspiration.

Celebrate successes, however small

It always helps to provide positive feedback about any changes that indicate progress toward recovery. For instance, it is worth pointing out that despite all their anxieties and misgivings they have already made a significant change by seeking help, whether from a  discreet, luxury rehab centre or somewhere else.

Successes however seemingly small should be celebrated. Progress should not be measured in relation to the end goal as much as in relation to the starting point. The person will need help to embrace the uncomfortable and challenging parts of the process. They will need ongoing rehab aftercare support so that all changes can become steadily more embedded with daily practice.

The context in which change may be easier

Making difficult changes may be somewhat easier if attempted in a context specifically designed to help, such as the one provided by a private inpatient addiction treatment centre. In a safe, supportive environment it is possible, with ever-present help, to practice taking emotional risks, develop trust as well as try out new behaviours and ways of relating. In this context, a person becomes more able to tolerate feelings that would normally be dealt with by addiction.

Clinically Reviewed By


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