How To Set Goals In Your Addiction Recovery

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 | By JP Emerald Coast

goals for addiction recovery

If you are using drugs and alcohol, you probably aren’t in a place in your life that you would describe as being a very happy one. When you go to an addiction treatment facility to get healthy and stay healthy, your recovery will include setting some personal goals for yourself.

Difference Between Dreams and Goals

Are you sure you know the difference between dreams and goals? Dreams are thoughts of things you might like to have someday. While they’re certainly very pleasant, they don’t have any type of timeline attached to them. Dreams also don’t require anything from you. A dream doesn’t make you put forth any effort to achieve it.

A goal is something that you want to accomplish in a tangible, measurable way. It has some type of time frame for completion, even if that time is months, or even several years, in the future. To achieve a goal, you’ll need to put in the effort and do some work.

Setting Goals for Yourself in Recovery

Each person’s recovery is as individual as they’re. There is no “one size fits all” approach that works for everyone. That is as it should be. No one else has your unique background, history of use or reasons for using drugs or alcohol. It doesn’t make sense for your treatment program to look like anyone else’s. The goals you set for yourself during recovery will also be unique.

The Benefits of Goals in Recovery

They Require Self-examination

In order to set goals for yourself in recovery, you must take the time to reflect on the things that are most important to you. How would you like to spend your time?

They Require Positive Thinking

Successful goal setting means that you’ll have to put your attention into what you want, as opposed to what you don’t want. You can’t set a goal to “stop drinking” or “stop using drugs,” since these are negative concepts. You can set, however, a goal to keep your recovery intact for today, and then re-set it tomorrow.

They Help to Shift Your Personal Mindset

Chances are, it’s been a long time since you thought about anything to do with yourself in a positive way. If this is the case, setting goals is will be a good exercise for you. It will help change your view of yourself into a capable, stronger, more competent person.

They Help You to Focus on the Future

No one has the ability to go back in time to change past events, no matter how much they might want to. As you work with your counselor in your addiction treatment, you’ll learn how to accept and deal with your past.

Setting personal goals during recovery gives you the chance to start focusing on making the changes that will shape the type of future you want. You may not have thought much of your future during the last months or years, but recovery is a time of fresh starts. You get to think about what you would like to do going forward and what you want your life to look like when it doesn’t include alcohol and drugs. Once they’re no longer in the picture, you have room for things that you may not have thought of for some time, or that you may not have even considered before!

Techniques for Setting Goals

If you want to set goals that are meaningful to you, it can be helpful to remember this acronym. It will help to recall whether you are on the right track: SMART.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Specific — A goal should set out what is to be done, and a time frame for completing it. “Continue my education” is not a goal but “Complete necessary academic upgrading/coursework to enroll in a college program majoring in ‘X’ by September 2017 or 2018.” is.

Measurable — The statement, “Eat more healthy foods” can’t be considered a goal. If you change it a bit so that it reads, “I’m going to eat better by including a salad with my meals three times a week, now you have a goal.” In the second instance, you can measure whether you are eating the salads three times each week or not.

Achievable An example of this is whether you attend your 12-step program meetings regularly. You make the decision to go to the meetings and to take the necessary steps to get to where they’re being held and how often you’ll attend. That is an achievable goal.

Part of setting goals for yourself includes gathering information and making the best decision you can in your current situation.

Relevant — The goal you set for yourself must be something that is important to you in some way. If it isn’t something you find meaningful, then you aren’t as likely to put forth the effort to do the work required.

Time-bound — A goal should have a set time for completion. You can set a short-term goal that you’ll do something each week and then renew it, or have a long-term goal about where you want to be by a certain point in three, six or 12 months — or even longer.

Alternative Guide to Goal Setting

If the S.M.A.R.T approach doesn’t appeal to you, there are other ways you can decide to set goals for yourself:

Decide on your Goals

Take some time to yourself to think about the kinds of things that you would like to be different about your life or that you want to do. What would you like to do over the next few weeks or months (short-term goals), the next six-twelve months (medium-length goals) and over the next few years or more (long-term goals)?

Your goals may relate to any or all of the following:

  • Personal Relationships
  • Career
  • Lifestyle
  • Finances
  • Personal Development/Spirituality

Be Specific

Whatever you decide on, you must be specific. It’s not enough to say that you want to improve your personal relationships, get a job or become more spiritual. Provide an example of something concrete you are are going to do to reach your goal when you decide to set a goal for yourself.

Write Your Goals Down

Committing your goals to paper makes it easier to keep track of them. It also changes them from something you have only thought of to a type of contract with yourself, as if the act of putting them in writing makes the goal more “official.”

Divide the Goal into Manageable Steps

Take the goal and divide it into steps that you can accomplish on a daily or weekly basis. If you want to improve your personal relationships, you may want to start by calling or e-mailing one or two people you want to re-establish contact with or be closer to. If one of your goals is to get a job, start by evaluating your skills and looking at whether volunteering would be a good way to get back into the workforce.

Identify Any Obstacles to Reaching Your Goals

Obstacles to reaching out to your loved ones by e-mail could be lack of access to the internet. You’ll have to arrange to get access to a computer or a handheld device so that you can send and receive messages.

If you decide you want to volunteer, you’ll have to make sure that you can get to and from the workplace in time for your shifts. Check to see if it is on a bus route if you are using public transportation or make some alternate arrangement.

Make a Schedule for Implementing Your Goals

Decide when you’re going to make time to connect with your family members on a regular basis, either by writing letters or e-mails or making phone calls. If you’re looking for work, set aside a certain amount of time in your schedule to devote to your job search efforts. Remember, the jobs can be paid or unpaid.

Do the Actions Necessary for Carrying Out Your Goals

Making lists and a schedule are great steps, but you need to take action to move toward carrying out your goals. Break them down into small implements so they’re manageable for you. Even a small amount of effort, applied on a regular basis, will produce results over time and will help you avoid burnout when you pursue your goals.

Leave Room in Your Plan for Flexibility

There will be times when scheduling or other circumstances get in the way of your plan. Some goals should be non-negotiable, such as the one about abstaining from using drugs and alcohol, but other ones may need to have some leeway built in. For example, if one of your goals is to be more physically active by going to the gym a certain number of times a week, and you come down with a virus, you shouldn’t expect to stick to your regular workout schedule.

Give yourself the time you need to recover and then go back to the gym. Depending on how long you have had to be away, you may need to start on a lighter workout schedule than you were used to before you became ill. Within a relatively short time, you’ll be back to your usual routine.

Medium-range goals, such as securing paid employment by a certain date, may need adjustment if you are still looking for work by the deadline you had set for yourself. This is an opportunity to remind yourself that many people, and not just those who have challenges with substance abuse, may be taking longer to find a job than they had anticipated.

Continue with your efforts, but look for assistance from other sources, such as job search clubs, employment agencies, employment counselors, etc. You may want to consider whether a job-training program or continuing your education is an option you’d like to pursue.

Examples of Goals to Set Before Rehabilitation

Once you have made the decision to go to a treatment facility to get help, you can start to set some goals for yourself.

Stay for the Entire Program

You may have developed a pattern where you leave situations (and people) who make you uncomfortable throughout your period of drug and alcohol use. You won’t get the full benefit of the treatment unless you make a commitment to yourself that you’ll stay for the entire program.

Get Clean and Sober

Unless you are free from the influence of chemicals, you can’t move forward to drug and alcohol treatment that will get to the root of your addiction. Detox is the first stage of recovery and with a medically supervised detox, there is no need for you to experience painful withdrawal symptoms.

Get to Know Fellow Clients

Make a point of saying hello and introducing yourself. Ask where the other person is from and when they arrived. From that point, you should be able to find other things you can talk about, such as your surroundings, the food or the activities.

Goals to Have During Rehab

While you are in treatment, you’ll keep the goals you set before you arrived at the facility and add some more to the list, such as:

Listen Without Judgment

This goal is challenging for just about everyone. Most of us are used to listening to someone share something with us while thinking, “Yes, but…” and trying to refute it. If you have been living with a substance abuse challenge, then this habit may be even more ingrained.

Set yourself a goal to just listen to the information about addiction that the counselors are sharing with you. Don’t immediately discount it as being all wrong, take the time to evaluate it later on.

Fully Participate in Counseling Sessions

In order to get the most benefit from the treatment, you’ll need to participate fully in counseling sessions by being honest with your counselor. They’ll hold everything you share in strict confidence.

As you get to know fellow clients, it will become easier to share in group therapy sessions. Everything said in this environment is also kept confidential.

Embrace the New Lifestyle Presented

All the elements included at the treatment facility are included for a reason. If you’re asked to participate in an exercise program, try yoga or jogging, as these activities are going to benefit your recovery. Don’t worry about what your fellow clients may think about your efforts, they’re on their own recovery journey.

You may not notice results immediately from your efforts, but the combination of improving your physical, mental and spiritual health will help in your recovery.

Goals for After your Stay at the Rehabilitation Facility

After you have completed your course of treatment, you’ll still have goals to accomplish around your recovery.

Attend 12-Step Program Meetings Regularly

The exact number of times you’ll attend meetings each week will depend on you. In the early stage of your recovery, you may want or need to go to 12 step meetings on a daily basis. You’ll have to commit to continuing to attend your meetings regularly, even if you happen to move to a different residence or relocate after leaving the treatment facility.

Go to Follow-up Outpatient Counseling Sessions

Peer support groups provide one type of help during recovery, and outpatient treatment sessions help in a different manner when you’re recently released from a treatment facility. Find a counselor you can work with and attend these sessions regularly. You can get support with specific situations you encounter or suggestions on how to deal with your emotions as you navigate your way through life.

Look After Your Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Health

Continue to put the healthy lifestyle tips you learned at the treatment facility into practice once you leave the program. Experiment with preparing simple, healthy meals, and set yourself a goal of trying one new low-fat recipe each week.

Get regular exercise by finding an activity you like to do and sticking with it. There are low-cost ways to stay fit by taking exercise classes, signing up for a team sport at a community center, going walking, cycling or hiking, gardening, dancing and more.

Yoga and meditation are good choices to help you get in touch with your spiritual side. They also help to deal with stress and anxiety. If these emotions are left unresolved, they could open the door to a relapse, so they need to be kept in check.

How to Include Your Loved Ones in Goal Setting

Your loved ones can help you set and achieve your goals after you return home from your stay in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. No doubt, by that point you’ll look and sound much different from the time you left to seek help. Your eyes will be clear, your hair will be shiny and even your complexion will look fresh and glowing. And most importantly, you’ll that many days clean.

You and your friends and family members should sit down to discuss what you expect from each other now that you are in recovery. The relationship that existed when you were using drugs and alcohol is finished, and all of you have to establish new rules going forward.

They can support your goals for recovery by stating their expectations of you very clearly and directly. There needs to be consequences if you do not meet them.

Put it in Writing

To make sure that everyone is on the same page about how to set realistic goals for recovery, it’s important to write everything down.

One of the goals will likely be that you maintain a clean and sober lifestyle and that you’ll remain free from any mind-altering substances. To that end, any friend or family member can request that you undergo a drug test at any time. If the results are positive, depending on what your family decides, you may have the choice of going back into treatment or your family deciding that they will no longer provide you with any type of support (emotional, financial, shelter, etc.). Since this is a revolving goal, it should be dated and renewed at regular intervals (every month, every three months, etc.).

If you plan to live with your parents or other relatives, other parts of the contract can cover things like keeping your room clean, helping out with household chores (be specific about which ones you’ll be responsible for), looking for a job or a volunteer position or enrolling in classes. Since goals need to be measurable, expect to have your room inspected for cleanliness and your chores checked. Keep track of your job (paid or unpaid) search and show your parents or other relatives or friends proof that you have enrolled in school and share your grades with them.

The recovery contract is meant to help you get in the habit of making good decisions in recovery by making you accountable for your actions. You start the process by setting goals before you go into treatment by choosing to be open and accepting to the process and staying to the end.

If you want to start working on the goal of changing your life and starting your recovery today, contact JourneyPure Emerald Coast today.

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