Setting realistic goals prior to leaving treatment for addiction recovery is a crucial step in maintaining long-term sobriety. Goals provide direction and purpose, as well as a sense of accomplishment and motivation as they are achieved. They help you stay on track, and they help you get back on track should you misstep.
To encourage success and avoid disappointment and feelings of failure, it’s important that the goals set are realistic and achievable. A different study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that individuals who set treatment goals had better treatment outcomes. This includes a reduction in drug use and improved mental health compared to those who did not set goals.
Another study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that individuals who set specific and challenging recovery goals also had better treatment outcomes. While these goals were hard, they were also achievable.
Setting Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals means crafting goals that are challenging yet achievable. In other words, they should feel possible, albeit with effort. This will prevent you from becoming frustrated and giving up. With goals that can be reached, you are more likely to succeed and stay on your recovery path. Reaching goals that were challenging gives an even greater sense of success.
Here are six tips for setting achievable goals:
#1. Assess Where You Are
Knowing where you are in terms of your addiction recovery means understanding your triggers, strengths, and weaknesses, as well as identifying any areas of your life that may need to be addressed as part of your recovery. This assessment can be done with the help of a therapist or counselor and can also be part of the treatment plan.
#2. Make Your Goals SMART
Once you have a clear understanding of where you are currently, you can start setting realistic goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For example, instead of setting a goal to never drink again, a more realistic goal would be to attend an AA meeting once a week for the next month.
#3. Create Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
A combination of short-term and long-term goals will benefit you. Short-term goals are those that can be achieved in a relatively short period of time and can provide a sense of accomplishment and motivation.
Long-term goals are those that will take more time to achieve but will help you to maintain your recovery in the long run. For example, a short-term goal could be to attend therapy sessions twice a week for the next month. A long-term goal might be to find a job or go back to school in the next six months.
#4. Identify Your Support System
Your support system will provide guidance and encouragement as you work towards your goals. It can include friends, family, and professionals. Having a support system will help you to identify and manage triggers, as well as provide a source of accountability.
#5. Prepare for Setbacks and Obstacles
Recovery is an achievable process, but it’s not uncommon to encounter challenges along the way. Being prepared for these challenges and having a plan in place for how to manage them can make it easier to overcome them and stay on track with your goals.
#6. Treat Yourself Well
Finally, remember to be kind and compassionate with yourself. Recovery is not a linear process, and setbacks and obstacles are a normal part of the journey. Be patient and forgiving with yourself, and remember that progress often involves setbacks and challenges along the way.
The Benefits of Achievable Goals
Again, setting achievable goals serves to keep you on track in your continued recovery. However, this act has a slew of other benefits.
These benefits include:
- Giving you a sense of direction and purpose in your recovery journey
- Allowing you to focus on specific tasks and behaviors that will help you overcome your addiction
- Helping you track your progress and measure your success
- Enhancing your motivation and sense of accomplishment as you achieve each goal
- Providing a sense of hope and optimism for your future
- Helping you identify and address any potential obstacles or challenges that may arise during the recovery process
- Assisting you to learn new coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills that can be applied to other areas of life
- Helping you build a support system and find accountability partners
- Encouraging the development of healthy habits that can support ongoing recovery
- Helping to maintain a sense of control and self-efficacy during the process of addiction recovery
It’s important to set realistic expectations for the recovery process. For many people, addiction recovery is a lifelong journey, but it’s manageable with the right tools. That’s why it’s crucial to understand that there may be setbacks and challenges along the way. However, you can set yourself up for success with meaningful goals that are realistic and achievable.
Prior to finishing initial treatment, it’s important to focus on setting goals that are meaningful, achievable, and aligned with one’s values. These goals should reflect both where you are and where you are going and will help you to stay on track with your recovery. When formed, they will take your immediate and long-term needs, as well as your support system, into account. West Coast Recovery Centers helps provide the resources and options necessary to create goals prior to leaving treatment, including aftercare programs. If you or someone you love is ready to learn more about setting realistic, achievable goals as part of the addiction recovery process, contact WCRC at (760) 492-6509 today.