Setting Achievable Recovery Goals

Addiction recovery brings many challenges along the way, and this can be a good thing for people who are motivated by setting goals for themselves and achieving them. However, there’s an art to goal-setting, and when done incorrectly, ambition can lead to disappointment and unintentional self-sabotage.

Recovery goals should always be realistic as setting demands too high, especially very early on into the journey, could be a relapse-triggering experience. Many times, when people enter treatment, they’re invigorated because their body is receiving much-needed medical care, along with a more stable eating and sleeping schedule. With the help of medication-assisted treatment, they have more time to focus on self-improvement instead of acquiring and consuming drugs. This kind of momentum can catapult patients into making grandiose plans to reinvent themselves and achieve things they feel are finally possible after a long period of being held back by untreated substance use disorder.

Everyone will have their personal goals, but following some basic guidelines for setting these objectives will bring many benefits in the long run. Keep them SMART!

Specific: Goals shouldn’t be too vague or generalized because it makes them easy to forget or ignore. Explicitly stating that the intention is to complete a certain deed is much more helpful. For example, “I want to attend group counseling sessions three times a week this month.”

Measurable: Well-set goals are ones that can be measured in some increment, whether its days passed, number of repetitions, or a numerical value. Having a system that tracks progress will keep morale high and provide something to look back on in the future.

Attainable: A goal shouldn’t have an excessive barrier to achievement due to unreasonable difficulty, but it shouldn’t be too easy, either. Sustainable measures for success grounded in reality, not superhuman ability, are much more productive.

Relevant: The relevance of a goal should revolve around the current most important things that will benefit each coming day into the future. Goals that are set too far into the future can linger around for too long, making them feel unattainable and eventually discouraging.

Timely: Keeping goals within a target timeframe is essential to ensure progress. Keeping eyes on the finish line can keep distracting detours at bay and provide an incentive to continue working hard.

Recovery goals aren’t limited to only things surrounding stopping substance use and treatment, but they should be related. Many patients choose to focus on repairing damaged relationships, improving their health, finding like-minded recovery friends, self-care, and taking things one day at a time. Substance use counselors can be an excellent resource for those who are having trouble putting their ideas to paper when thinking about recovery goals. They have many useful exercises and impactful reading material to help patients get started.

There has never been a better time to seek help for chronic drug misuse. The compassionate and experienced medical professionals at Middlesex Recovery understand that substance use disorder is a disease that needs evidence-based treatment to give patients the best chance of reaching long-lasting recovery from addiction. To learn more about the programs available, message or call a local Middlesex Recovery clinic today.