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4 Ways to Manage Your Expectations in Addiction Recovery

There are several reasons it’s good to manage your expectations going into addiction recovery. You obviously have to have some expectation that your life will improve, otherwise, it’s hard to stay motivated. However, expecting too much too soon can be discouraging. No one has the exact same experience of recovery, but there are inevitably setbacks and challenges. Having high expectations can make you feel like you’re doing something wrong or that recovery isn’t as great as everyone said it would be. It also adds quite a bit of pressure. The last thing you want is more stress at a time when you’re already prone to anxiety and irritation. Although it’s easy to say you should go into recovery without expectations, it’s hard to do in practice. We always want to know what’s going to happen, or what might happen, so we can prepare. However, there are some ways you keep your expectations in reasonable bounds.

Learn as much as you can about addiction and recovery.

The first way to set realistic expectations about addiction, treatment, and recovery is to learn as much as you can. While you can find good information online, it’s best to use this as a starting point. A much richer source of information will be books, both by addiction experts and by people in recovery. Memoirs often give the most accurate representation of what a chaotic process recovery can be. Just don’t assume your own experience will be very much like anyone else’s. It’s also a good idea to talk to people who have been through it before, even if they aren’t currently sober. It’s good to know about the different kinds of setbacks people encounter so you can be ready.

Think long-term.

Research shows that everyone is bad at estimating how long things will take to finish. A good rule of thumb is to take your best estimate and multiply it by three. Others go even further and suggest you convert your estimate to the next highest unit. So if you expect a project to take three days, it will more likely take three weeks. This way of thinking makes you more patient and gets you thinking long-term. Life will definitely get better when you’re sober, but it may take a while. If you know you’re in it for the long term, you can more easily tolerate temporary setbacks.

Focus on the process.

While it may be hard to let go of expectations completely, one strategy that may help is to focus on the process as much as possible. Know that you may not notice any progress from day to day, but that if you trust the process and keep putting in the work, you’ll eventually see results.

See what happens.

When you have expectations, you either see what you expect or you don’t. If you’ve ever gone to a party hoping to see one person, you were probably disappointed if that person wasn’t there. You probably didn’t notice the other wonderful people who were there. If you go into the process with the idea that you’re going to see what happens, you open yourself up to new possibilities and pleasant surprises.

Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.