What Are Realistic and Achievable Goals in Addiction Recovery?

What Are Realistic and Achievable Goals in Addiction Recovery?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

The recovery journey can feel like an overwhelming and lengthy process for many clients. Especially when beginning recovery, some clients feel that the healing journey will be too much to handle. On the other hand, some clients think the journey will be easy, not recognizing that there will be barriers and difficulties along the way. However, it is important for clients to remember that recovery is a slow process. To help ease any overwhelming feelings, clients can benefit from taking a more structured approach to their journey. This can be done by creating realistic and achievable goals for each step in the recovery journey.

At First Steps Recovery, the staff helps clients through each stage of recovery, offering support and guidance along the way. These staff members can help clients create these achievable goals to facilitate long-lasting sobriety and a successful recovery journey.

Creating Realistic and Achievable Goals Throughout Each Phase of Recovery

A more structured approach to recovery can be achieved by creating goals. At the start of recovery, clients may find it difficult to know what types of goals are realistic and achievable. This is especially true because clients tend to be working on developing a sense of self and gaining more inner knowledge without the presence of alcohol or substances. Once clients have more insight into themselves, it is easier for them to create achievable goals. Clients eventually realize that recovery is a gradual process that’s ongoing. What’s more, each stage should be treated as separate from the others.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a working definition of recovery. This definition is that clients in recovery are working on improving their health and wellness, learning to be self-directed, and reaching their full lifestyle potential without drugs or alcohol. As clients embark on their recovery journeys, they reach new heights one step at a time. When they make progress in recovery, more goals can be created while keeping in mind the long-term goals of lasting sobriety. Having a goal-directed approach to recovery helps clients pace themselves and keep themselves focused during the journey.

Many realistic goals in recovery involve habit- and behavior-changing steps. Another main component of goal-setting is being able to see evidence of one’s progress in one’s actions, behaviors, mindset, and overall lifestyle. If a person is creating achievable goals, this should be evident in their life. Goal-setting also allows clients to look forward to small celebrations along the way, making their recovery journey a positive, enriching, and fulfilling experience.

Setting Goals When Starting Recovery

When starting recovery, clients initially begin with a detoxification process to shed their physical dependency on substances. This process at First Steps Recovery typically lasts about seven days, with 24-hour supervision on the first day. After detoxification, clients begin their treatment program.

During detox and eventually while transitioning into treatment and therapy, clients should set small, realistic goals. Clients often experience cravings or withdrawal symptoms, which can be exacerbated during this process. A realistic goal in the early days of recovery may be practicing breathing exercises daily to ease agitation, anxiety, or cravings. After bringing a peaceful practice into one’s life early on, it is easier to make the practice a habit.

Another achievable goal may be having more willingness to open up to one’s specialist about withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This goal will help one’s team create an effective plan to address these overwhelming feelings. Another healthy, achievable goal could be learning how to express oneself verbally to receive help or assistance. Working on this skill prevents clients from isolating themselves during recovery.

Setting Achievable Goals While in Treatment

While in treatment, whether it’s inpatient or outpatient treatment, it’s especially important to continuously create new achievable goals. The first goals achieved in detoxification and the early beginnings of treatment are only initial stepping stones. During personalized treatment and therapy, the initial goals and habits a client incorporated should be continued to further the recovery journey.

The treatment phase comes with a number of therapies clients can try. Some achievable goals may be testing a certain number of different services or bringing in more external support, like family, into the recovery journey. Other goals may be more personal, like incorporating more inner reflection activities into one’s day. This may look like mindfulness meditation, creative expression, or journaling. While in treatment, it is important to create goals that support and encourage healthy coping mechanisms and habits for long-term sobriety.

Setting Achievable Goals Post-Treatment

Although clients are still in touch with their therapists and specialists post-treatment, this is when the recovery journey becomes very self-directed. The self-directed nature of this stage can be scary for some clients. This is normal. However, making the transition into one’s normal routine without an addictive substance can be done successfully. Some achievable goals clients can work on while transitioning into their regular routines may be incorporating holistic services from the treatment facility into their lives. This may look like practicing yoga regularly or engaging socially in a sober environment regularly to maintain a support system.

How Does First Steps Recovery Support and Guide Clients in Creating Goals?

First Steps Recovery staff members support and guide clients in creating realistic and achievable goals. Therapists and specialists work with clients to bring them out of their isolated comfort zones and engage in the world in a new way without substances or alcohol.

Setting and achieving goals helps clients bring more celebration, relief, and self-affirmation into their newly sober lives. With a personalized treatment plan, clients and their therapists develop a close bond. When clients maintain that relationship after treatment, the therapist can continue to support and guide them in their goal-setting and celebrate important milestones.

Here at First Steps Recovery, we encourage clients to create realistic and achievable goals in order to bring celebration and success into all parts of their recovery journey. Taking on recovery without having small stepping stones along the way can be overwhelming. For that reason, it is important for clients to find small things to celebrate along the way. Many of these goals may look like incorporating healthy habits into one’s life on a regular basis or practicing inner reflection more frequently. Some clients may also benefit from reaching social goals such as feeling more comfortable being honest about their experiences and feelings. To learn more about goal setting, please call us at (844) 489-0836.

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