The promise of the New Year makes optimists out of most of us. We feel empowered by the symbolic new beginning that January 1st offers and determined to reinvent ourselves, or at least identify and address the areas of our lives we consider to be “improvable”. New Year’s resolutions and addiction recovery have always had a close and complex relationship. Whether it’s the addict who resolves to get themselves treatment in the New Year, the parent or loved one who vows to take a more active role in getting their family member help, the person in recovery who wants to strengthen their recovery efforts or anyone else, recovery and resolutions have always gone hand in hand.
The thought of a clean slate and a fresh start is an understandably dominant theme in the recovery paradigm. It allows for a metaphorical shedding of the skin and a chance to turn everything negative in our lives around; however, these promises that we make to ourselves are only as strong as our commitment to maintain them. As many of us, both in and out of recovery are well aware, it’s incredibly easy and common to break New Year’s resolutions only short time after making them. We settle into complacency at work, we abandon the deeper self-reflection for the sake of expediency and the concept of self-care takes a backseat to self-preservation.
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions and addiction recovery, however, the stakes are much higher. Addiction is a time-sensitive matter and doesn’t wait for us to have more time at work or for our children to be more grown up or for our any other circumstance we so often use as an excuse to not give ourselves the attention we deserve. If we’re going to promise to get ourselves or someone we love into recovery, we have to realize how hard and important that promise is to keep. What began as a resolution can easily escalate into a life-or-death situation.
There are various measures we can take to successfully co-mingle New Year’s resolutions and addiction recovery. If we’re seeking treatment for the first time, we can reach out to a loved one to help arrange logistics; if we’re feeling particularly vulnerable to relapse, we can increase our attendance at meetings and confide further in our support; if we’re at a loss as to how to help an addicted loved one, we can educate ourselves and organize an intervention. The point is that any step we take toward helping ourselves or the people we care about get help is progress. Recovery Unplugged wishes everyone a safe, happy and sober New Year.