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What Are the Dangers of Complacency?

Complacency, or the state of being absolutely satisfied with yourself, your lifestyle, and your actions can feel like a really good place. In addiction recovery, people are encouraged to practice self-acceptance, build their self-esteem, and constantly honor and recognize their value. However, the uncritical acceptance of your current state can actually be dangerous. This is increasingly true as you move further and further into recovery, and further and further away from the days when staying sober were your very top priority. When people become complacent in recovery, they often become increasingly confident in their ability to avoid relapsing, and they may even subject themselves to unnecessary challenges and temptations.

Complacency and Relapse

Addiction recovery is recognized as a lifelong battle. Many of the factors that make people more predisposed to addiction don’t simply go away. Instead, recovering addicts have to have effective and needs-specific strategies for constantly managing them. They also need continued support. Research often that the more treatment and support people with substance use disorder receive, the less likely they are to return to substance abuse. Sadly, when complacency sets in, many people gradually decrease their reliance on critical support tools. Someone who is complacent in recovery will often stop:

  • Attending sober meetings
  • Taking part in support groups
  • Engaging in activities that are part of their long-term relapse prevention plans

Many of these changes are actually major red flags. After all, relapse is rarely an instant return to physical use. With relapse, people begin gradually distancing themselves from their support team. They don’t attend sober meetings regularly or they may not attend them at all. They also decrease their efforts in diligent, daily relapse prevention. Changes like these can be swiftly followed by efforts to romanticize substance use, plans to use drugs or alcohol in a sustainable way, or even thoughts of how to acquire substances. Thus, for many people, complacency itself can actually be the start of the relapse process.

The Dangers of Over-Confidence in Recovery

Complacency and its relationship to over-confidence is important to consider as well. If you become complacent in your recovery, you may loosen your standards on where you hang out, who you hang out with, and the activities that you engage in. Feeling as though you can start going to bars for social interaction, and without drinking, is always dangerous. Attending parties where substances are present is an unnecessary challenge of your recovery skills and personal willpower. In this way, complacency has led countless recovering addicts directly to relapse, and without them ever being aware along the way.

How to Avoid Complacency in Recovery

The best way to avoid complacency in recovery is by accepting the accepted definition of addiction. Also known as substance use disorder, addiction is a lifelong, chronic mental health issue. People who cannot consume alcohol without rapidly progressing to alcohol abuse will never be able to consume alcohol safely. This remains true across all substance types. The fight to stay sober never ends, it just becomes infinitely easier as more skills and tools are acquired. People who consider themselves as always being in recovery fair far better than those who consider themselves as being “cured” after a set amount of time has been passed.

Another excellent strategy for avoiding complacency is to “pay it forward”. Many recovering addicts bolster their own success and help lay the foundation for success for others by volunteering within addiction treatment centers, homeless shelters, food banks, and other areas. Volunteer work promotes feelings of satisfaction, gratitude, and self-contentment. It does so in positive, non-harmful ways that complacency does not. It is also, always important to have a solid relapse prevention plan, even if you’ve been in recovery for several years. If you’re currently struggling with complacency and want help finding additional support services, we can provide it. If you’re at the start of your journey in sober living, we can help you find the perfect inpatient or outpatient program for your needs. Call us now at 844-903-2111.