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Individuals recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) work with their care team to set realistic and achievable goals. Many people find these goals motivating. Motivation keeps people moving forward and making healthy changes in their day-to-day lives. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Motivation for change is a key component in addressing substance misuse.” Moreover, West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients with the tools and resources they need to maintain motivation and continue healing after they achieve significant recovery goals. 

Why Is It Hard to Maintain Motivation After Achieving Primary Recovery Goals?

Clients and clinicians collaborate during treatment planning to create primary recovery goals, including achieving abstinence and managing symptoms. After completing those goals, some people may feel directionless and uncertain about where to focus their energy. In more severe cases, clients may backslide and use previous maladaptive coping behaviors to reduce their stress or anxiety about their circumstances. 

Achieving significant life goals results in positive and negative side effects, including the following: 

  • Increased self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-efficacy
  • Reduced reliance on other people or emotional crutches 
  • Increased boredom by removing a primary point of focus 
  • Decreased motivation to continue working toward long-term sobriety 
  • Some people may feel stuck in place and complacent 
  • Sudden ambivalence about treatment or emotional relapse

Therapy plays a vital role in ensuring clients maintain motivation during treatment. According to the previously mentioned article by SAMHSA, “Research now shows that counselors can help clients identify and explore their desire, ability, reasons, and need to change substance use behaviors; this effort enhances motivation and facilitates movement toward change.” Furthermore, individual and group therapy provides clients a safe space to explore their feelings and gain motivation.

Making Goals Achievable and Challenging

Clients participating in rehabilitation programs benefit from creating achievable and challenging recovery goals. Setting realistic and demanding goals improves the effectiveness of treatment by encouraging clients to do the following:

  • Continue making progress with personal growth
  • Challenge negative self-talk and stigmas 
  • Make essential lifestyle changes 

Clinicians collaborate with clients to establish recovery goals that test their limits in a healthy way. According to the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, “Goal setting and monitoring are a collaborative means of mapping and tracking a course of mutually accountable treatment.” Clients and the care team use primary recovery goals to monitor overall treatment progress and improve self-confidence. 

3 Ways to Maintain Motivation Long-Term

Feeling unmotivated to continue making healthy life choices increases the risk of relapse. People may feel tempted to fall back into old behavior patterns if they lose focus on moving forward. Part of long-term recovery involves finding new ways to stay motivated. People who challenge themselves to continue making positive lifestyle changes often have the best outcomes. Below are three ways individuals recovering from SUD remain motivated:

#1. Become Part of a Mentor/Mentee Relationship

Individuals in early recovery benefit from building strong peer relationships with mentors or sponsors. 12-Step programs and other communities offer fellowship and guidance for people new to sobriety. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment states, “Peer support in substance use recovery assists individuals who seek long-term recovery by establishing supportive and reciprocal relationships that support the initiation and maintenance of recovery.”

Many opportunities are available for individuals who want to find a mentor or sponsor to help them through the early stages of recovery. Often, these relationships last for years. Likewise, the connections are mutually beneficial. Mentors and mentees support one another by providing inspiration, motivation, advice, and essential insights.

#2. Maintain Motivation by Rewarding Yourself

Chronic substance abuse affects the brain’s physical structure and can make it challenging for some people to feel hopeful or motivated. Instead of maintaining motivation using standard rewards like buying something nice after achieving a recovery goal, people in recovery may need extra incentives. Individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders have a more difficult time maintaining motivation. According to Preventative Medicine, “[I]ncentives could conceivably be sustained over long periods,” providing clients an effective way to build motivation. Clients can work with their care team to determine the best reward to incentivize them into making positive lifestyle changes. 

#3. Maintain Motivation by Being Part of a Community

Community involvement is often inspiring and motivating for people in recovery. Being actively engaged with peers and people with similar life experiences helps people stay focused on maintaining the healthy routines established during treatment. 

Becoming part of a community may include the following:

  • Volunteering for advocacy groups, shelters, or other organizations
  • Joining a hobby or sports group
  • Taking part in local events 
  • Engaging with friends and families 

Clients in treatment and aftercare benefit from becoming part of a community of like-minded people who share similar passions. West Coast Recovery Centers encourages clients to join community events and spend time with peers. 

Setting achievable and challenging goals is vital during recovery. However, some people reach their primary recovery goals and lose motivation to continue making changes. After achieving the goals they set for themselves at the beginning of treatment, it might feel like there is nowhere else to go. However, recovery is a lifelong journey, and people can find motivation in many different places. Clients participating in treatment often find motivation and inspiration in peer interactions. West Coast Recovery Centers uses evidence-based and alternative holistic therapies to help clients maintain motivation and set new goals after achieving sobriety. To learn more about our programs and services, call us today at (760) 492-6509.