Rabbi Azriel Hauptman
Addiction is a disease that wreaks havoc on the lives of the addicts and their loved ones. After an addict has successfully reached sobriety, the question is often asked if that means that the addiction is cured. The short answer is… No. Addiction cannot be cured, but it can be managed.
Imagine someone who had very poor dental hygiene habits and after a few painful toothaches he goes to a dentist who informs him that he needs five root canals. Do we say that after his teeth are repaired that he is cured? Of course not! We say that from now on it is imperative to be proactive in the care of his teeth.
Similarly with addictions, one cannot just sit back and feel that from now on life will be smooth sailing. The road to relapse is a slippery one, and only through being on top of your game, will you be able to avoid it.
This gets us to the difference between complacency and confidence. Complacency is “a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements”, and confidence is “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities”. If you will notice, there is a fine line between being complacent and being confident. When one is confident in recovery, that means that one has developed the necessary habits to maintain recovery and therefore feels confident in his or her ability to avoid relapse. When one is complacent in recovery that means that one is so satisfied with his or her accomplishments in recovery that one feels immune from the risks of relapse.
What are some the signs of complacency? One is if you are always saying that you do not have time to engage in recovery habits. Someone who achieved recovery through support groups, therapy, and having a sponsor, and now has no time to maintain those recovery habits has become complacent. Life is busy, and we all often have a very difficult time making space in our lives for the myriad responsibilities that we all have. But maintaining recovery is not simply just another obligation on the list. This is what you need to avoid relapse which can trigger a downward spiral that can lead to the loss of one’s job, marriage, or life.
Another sign of complacency is if one stops taking advice. Humility is an integral component of maintaining recovery. If one is focused on remaining sober, then he or she would be actively seeking out advice from other addicts in recovery or from professionals. When you are no longer teachable, that is a surefire sign that you are overconfident.
In order to stay one step ahead of the relapse trap, one must be take the initiative and actively seek out ways to continue growing in recovery. Pick up the phone and connect with people who have similar struggles. Join support groups of likeminded individuals who want to help one another in the lifelong journey of recovery. Be accountable to somebody else who will call you out if you slack off on your recovery practices. Seek out the services of a mental health professional who has experience in the treatment of addictions.
There are so many resources out there today for addicts in recovery. If you are fully aware of your need to be proactive in recovery and you maintain a wide spectrum of healthy habits of recovery, then you might have the right to feel confident about your recovery. But, never, ever, feel complacent.