Obstacles in Sobriety: Overcoming Them With 12-Step Programs
By: Cumberland Heights
There is so much ambiguity about what the future holds, and recovery requires that we take a giant leap into the unknown. Whether you’ve been sober for 1 month or 1 year, you’ll find that obstacles will always come and go; while it can be an incredibly nerve wracking experience, the reality is that everyone is trying to navigate a journey that isn’t always predictable. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions explains that even communities as a whole face obstacles such as access to treatment, access to other professionals, access to peer support groups and barrier to confidentiality – but what about individuals specifically in recovery?
There’s no doubt that you’ll run into obstacles throughout your recovery, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t face them. With so many ways to manage and work through these obstacles – and with so many people ready to support you, you’re only one step away from getting closer towards your goals.
Obstacles Faced in Recovery
Just as each person is different, there are unique obstacles every person faces as they explore the journey to sobriety. In 2017, writer Emma Miah wrote for Your Story – a website that publishes various stories of triumph and news from around the world. She identified several obstacles, such as:
Fear of change
The ongoing pattern of addiction can become comforting over time, as a person has relied on substances to ease them at various times or situations in their lives. Recovery entails finding newer, healthier outlets – and this change can be intimidating at first.
Fear of relapse
Relapse is one of the most commonly talked about fears for addiction recovery, because nobody wants to feel as though they’ve “failed” or that they’re “weak”. Relapse is actually quite common – but that doesn’t make it scary nonetheless.
Becoming too bored
A number of people in addiction recovery have feared that they won’t be able to have fun anymore – and for the first few months (or even the first year), it may feel like there’s nothing to do. In treatment, however, daily schedules are meant to combat this fear of boredom.
Fear of rejection and/or abandonment
The realization of the harm that’s been done to others as a result of addiction can bear too much stress, anxiety and shame for a person – and in learning of what happened when a person was “high” or intoxicated, it’s commonplace for a person to worry that they’re friends, family and other loved ones may not want to be around anymore.
Difficulties in discovering one’s identity
Recovery requires that a person to reshape their life – and during this time of healing and rejuvenation, a person learns more about who they really are. It’s a scary process, especially if an individual feels lost in figuring it out – but it’s a journey worth taking.
12-Step Programs and the Benefits
Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous tend to serve as beautiful additions to treatment – and through these programs, a person can build their social support network to include not only the peers around them, but also a sponsor whom they can rely on in times of need. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) explains that addiction isn’t a destination, but rather a journey; and 12-Step programs embrace this journey through a number of avenues such as:
- Working with a therapist
- Attending and engaging in 12-Step meetings
- Collaborating with a sponsor and building a strong bond
- Exploring problems or psychological resistance to the program
- “Working” the 12-Steps not just in meetings but also throughout a person’s life
- Becoming involved in 12-Step activities, such as in social events, retreats and conventions
- And more
Many of the fears experienced in recovery can be ameliorated through 12-Step programs because they remind those in recovery that they’re not the only one going through problems. Spirituality – such as developing a stronger connection with God or another Higher Power – can help save a person’s life by helping them find purpose and fulfillment in daily life. ASAM noted,
“Twelve-Step Recovery addresses the psychology of the person with the addiction as well as the individual’s spirituality – his/her values, his/her connectedness to others, and his/her willingness to engage with others and humbly ask for help.”
By applying oneself fully to the program while also attending regular treatment, the fears expressed earlier seem much less intimidating – because there’s an entire group of people whom a person can relate to.
Seek Treatment Now
If you’ve been struggling with addiction and are ready to turn your life around, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. There are always going to be obstacles in recovery, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move forward with treatment because of them – in fact, treatment will provide you with the tools you need to work through these obstacles and become a much stronger person.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.