Let 2015 Be a Year of Sobriety

New Year Year’s resolutions can be a powerful time to make a decision. It’s a new year, a new time, and it can be a new life.

The word resolution comes from the word resolute, which means admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering. You make a firm decision to do something, to make a change, or to go after a goal. You are unwavering and determined to do what you set out to do. You are determined to reach your goal.

Setting Goals for Your Sobriety

It’s important to remember that because you’ve set this goal for yourself, doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen on its own. You’ve got to take the action steps that are going to get you closer and closer to where you want to be. You’ve got to create a plan that will get you from here to there. Part of this includes thinking about the ways that you’re going to stay committed to your goal. Although you might encounter challenges and setbacks, you’re determination keeps you going and moving in the direction of your choice.

Treatment Is Still Possible When There’s Relapse

For instance, relapse doesn’t mean you are sentenced to addiction the rest of your life. In fact, even when there’s relapse, treatment and full recovery is possible. According to research, one third of patients who are in treatment for their addiction will achieve long-term sobriety with their first serious attempt at recovery. Another one third of patients will have brief relapse periods and then achieve abstinence, while another one third will go through chronic relapses before eventually recovering from their addiction. So, although relapse is common, it’s not an obstacle to achieving sobriety.

In fact, relapse can even make your resolve to stay sober even stronger. Once you realize that you’ve moved a few steps backward, away from your goal, it might motivate you to get stronger and tend to those factors in your life that are getting in the way of your sobriety.

Understanding Factors of Relapse

Typically, in order for treatment of an addiction to be successful, it has to address the various factors in a your life that may be contributing to the continued use of alcohol or drugs. For instance, there are predisposing factors that can place you at risk for relapse. These include:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Concurring mental illness
  • High stress
  • Inadequate coping skills
  • Lack of support at work or home
  • Dysfunctional family life
  • Lack of impulse control

At the same time, in addition to the factors mentioned above, there might be circumstantial factors, such as:

  • A death in the family
  • Learning about an illness that you or another has acquired
  • A move away from old friends and family
  • A divorce with your spouse

Recognizing Contributing Factors

Furthermore, negative thinking, unresolved trauma, repressed anger, or other challenges in your life can contribute to continually making the choice to drink or use drugs. If these factors are not tended to in treatment, they can eventually create a downward spiral. Over time, those feelings produced by relapse, such as failure, only add to drug use, which might become a means to cope with difficult feelings. However, once you recognize this pattern, you can turn this around too.

And part of recognizing and turning this pattern around is to work through, little by little, any ambivalence you might have towards drinking or drug use. For example, if using alcohol or substances has brought relief from emotional pain, a dramatic increase in energy, and a euphoric feeling for life, among other perceived benefits, reasons to continue to use might still be there, despite your committed resolution to end your addiction. You might say that you want to change, but there may be fundamental reasons that might encourage continued use. Thus, there often lies an enormous amount of ambivalence.

Yet, that’s the beauty of making a resolution. Over time, it has a strength of its own. As you continue to choose your goal of sobriety, as you continue to make healthier choices, and as you continue to keep your eye on the goal, you’re giving sobriety more and more power in your life. You are resolute to stay clean and sober, and before you know it, it will be the end of 2015 and you’ll be living a life of sobriety.