New Year's Resolutions and Addiction Recovery

New Year’s Resolutions and Addiction Recovery

The promise of the New Year makes optimists out of most of us. We feel empowered by the symbolic new beginning that it offers and want to reinvent ourselves. At the very least, we identify and address the areas of our lives we think we can improve. 

New Year’s resolutions and addiction recovery have always had a close and complex relationship. The New Year encourages people to take a look at what they can do to fight the disease of addiction. 

Often it’s the addict who resolves to get themselves treatment in the New Year. Other times it’s a loved one who takes a more active role in getting their friend or family member help. Sometimes a person in recovery takes a look at their life and wants to strengthen their recovery effort.


The thought of a clean slate and a fresh start is an understandably dominant theme in recovery. It allows for a 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 know, it’s incredibly easy to break New Year’s resolutions. As a society we’ve learned to give up on them only a short time after making them. 

Sometimes it’s as simple as settling into complacency at work. Others might abandon the deeper self-reflection for the sake of convenience. The truth is, the concept of self-care takes a backseat to self-preservation and giving in to old habits. 

For someone trying to start the year off sober, it can feel impossible to uphold this kind of resolution. Because of how we’ve come to see New Year’s resolutions, it can be hard to seriously dedicate yourself to one. The good news is that, for anyone genuinely committed to changing their lives, following through and reinventing yourself is possible. 


When it comes to New Year’s resolutions and addiction recovery, the stakes are much higher. Addiction is a time-sensitive and chronic disease that doesn’t wait for us to have more time to handle it. 

Making excuses about why you haven’t given yourself the chance to get treatment becomes second nature. You tell yourself that treatment would have too much of an impact on your work. You’re constantly saying that you have to wait for your children to be older so they can understand. We make up circumstances and excuses to not give ourselves the attention we deserve. 

When it comes to addiction and recovery, there isn’t enough time to treat it like another New Year’s resolution. If you’re going to promise to take steps towards recovery, recognize how important it is to keep that commitment. 

Recovery is infinitely harder than resolutions like losing weight or saving money to travel. When it comes to the disease of addiction, it’s a constant gamble with life and death. 

You have to be serious about making a resolution to getting treatment and starting a life in recovery. What began as a resolution can easily escalate into a life-or-death situation.


A big part of making sure that we follow through with resolutions is setting goals that are small, significant, and realistic. Instead of making promises and resolutions you don’t intend to keep, start with something small. 

If you’ve decided to seek treatment for the first time, you can reach out to a loved one for help. Maybe you feel particularly vulnerable to relapse and increasing attendance at meetings or finding a fellowship can help. If you’re at a loss as to how to help a loved one, you can resolve to organize an intervention. 

For people who have reached rock bottom and seriously commit to change, a New Year’s resolution for recovery can work. For others, setting themselves up for failure by making a promise they won’t keep can worsen their recovery journey.

By committing to small-scale steps towards a sober life, you can create positive habits that can last a lifetime. 


Just because New Year’s resolutions have a track record of failure doesn’t mean that yours will be. There are measures we can take to realistically and successfully integrate New Year’s resolutions and addiction recovery.

If you’re committed to taking the path to recovery, any time of the year is a good time to start. Any step we take toward helping ourselves or the people we care about get help is progress. 

The staff here at Recovery Unplugged wishes everyone a safe, happy and sober New Year. 

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