The Dangers of Complacency in Sobriety

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

You’ve been sober for some time, and you believe that there’s no possibility that you’ll go back to drugs or alcohol. With this attitude, you begin to feel completely empowered, forgetting about the hard work it took you to get where you are today. If this sounds like you, you may be dealing with complacency in sobriety.

What Is Complacency?

Complacency is a feeling of uncritical or smug satisfaction with your achievements or yourself. Essentially, it means you feel you’ve achieved perfect sobriety without considering the ongoing risks or dangers that could still be posed in life. Sometimes, it leads people to think they can go out to a bar without a problem when they were struggling with alcoholism, for instance, only to find that they quickly relapse once there.

People who are feeling conceited are taking things for granted. They expect that the way things are at the moment will be how they are forever. For instance, if a person has a good day and has no cravings when he’s around alcohol, he may think he will never have cravings or fall into the trap of addiction again.

Why Causes These Thoughts?

Sometimes, when a person is first recovering from an addiction, they feel motivated and eager, so they spend more time working on therapies and putting in work to maintain sobriety. Over time, it’s easy to forget how bad things were before they were this far through the addiction program.

If the person starts believing that sobriety is a guarantee, then they may stop going to as many meetings or therapy sessions or fail to keep up on other program techniques. That can lead to mistakes and poor judgment; over time, this will lead you closer and closer to a relapse.

What Are The Signs?

There are several signs that you may be becoming complacent with your recovery.

  1. You stop taking suggestions from others. When you first began your road to recovery, you listened to doctors, nurses, therapists, your family, and friends. What has changed now? It’s true that your life is probably balancing out; you have new friends, a good family life, and even a great job or home. However, if you cut ties with those who helped you in the past and refuse to listen when they suggest that you should continue going to meetings or stay accountable in other ways, that’s when complacency can begin to set in.
  2. You stop going to 12-step or group therapy meetings. While you may feel you’ve outgrown the help the group can give you, that doesn’t mean that you should write off going to these groups completely. In fact, even if you only go once a month or even less often, still attending can help you refresh your desire to stay sober and encourage continued commitment.
  3. You become easily irritated with others. When you first became sober, it was likely with a great deal of humility followed by overall acceptance of the position you were in. However, you need to realize that when you needed help, you were not criticized or degraded. Having that kind of attitude toward new group members or others you know with addiction concerns can show that you’re forgetting to stay present in the moment and are picking up self-righteous habits.

complacency quote

What Can You Do to Prevent This?

You may not think you can prevent these thoughts and attitude, but there are some things you can do to make sure you never fall into the trap.

  1. Keep a plan of action at all times. What should you be doing every day to help yourself stay sober? What can you do to help others do the same?
  2. Think about your support group. Your support group has always been there for you, how can you give back? Taking an active role in your group can help you focus on others and maintain your own sobriety over time.
  3. Don’t forget where you came from. Keep a journal or blog that you can look back on when you think you’re free from addiction and don’t need any additional help. Do you remember the first day of treatment, what your family felt like when you were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or when you first began to feel like you were back in control of your life? Keeping tabs on how much you’ve grown can help you see that you’re still learning and changing every day.

Are You Or A Loved One Struggling?

No one wants to admit that complacency has taken hold, but with the right attitude, that can change and you can get back on track to a healthy lifestyle filled with acceptance, grace, and humility. Visit online to learn more about complacency and how you can better serve yourself and others while you’re living in sobriety, or call our helpful specialists at 1-844-489-0836 to find out more about the 12-step programs, rehabilitation groups, or other specialists near you.

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