• Staff Writer

What is Self-Sabotage in Recovery?

Updated: Feb 2



Addiction is a form of self-destruction. You are doing something you know is bad for you, but continue to do it anyway. Sure, there are a lot of mental and physical reasons for this, but when you decide to begin recovery, you are doing something good for yourself.


You want to get better. Your goal is to live a happy and sober life. Then why do you do things that prevent that from happening?


What Is Self-Sabotage?


Self-sabotage is anything that prevents you from accomplishing your overall goal, even if it is destructive. You know you want to remain sober and have healthy relationships, so why would you do anything to risk that?


It is the same reason you procrastinate. You know you need to complete a project but keep pushing it off. Why?


Part of this is avoiding the complex parts. Recovery is not easy, and facing the parts of your past and working towards a healthy future are challenging, and facing those challenges can be scary. What if you try your hardest and fail?


That fear can lead you to self-sabotage. Instead of trying and failing, you sabotage your success because that is within your control. Failure may also be familiar to you. If you succeed and then lose what you worked so hard for, you worry it will be worse than never having it in the first place. So, you throw away your progress.


Self-sabotage is seen in almost every aspect of life but is extremely common within addiction recovery. Because addiction is linked to self-destructive behavior, recovering from the addiction means fighting that urge as well. Addiction isn't just about the substance, but the behaviors that go along with using.


Are You Sabotaging Your Recovery?


Self-sabotage during recovery doesn't mean you're failing or that you're out of hope. It can be a normal part of the process. But, the first step to stop self-sabotaging is being able to realize that you're doing it.


It may be more evident if you bail on a big job interview, relapse after the physical symptoms of withdrawal subside, or something along those lines.


Some common forms of self-sabotage during recovery can lead to those bigger hurdles.


#1 You ignore warning signs.


When you've been doing well during recovery, you may not want to admit that you're struggling. If you are feeling stressed, experiencing urges to use, or think you need help, you may not want to admit it. To you, that feels like failure. Ignoring these signs is a form of self-sabotage. Being able to admit when things get hard and you need help shows strength and a willingness work hard to meet your goals.


#2 You hold onto guilt and shame.


Addiction comes with guilt and shame. Throughout recovery, you hopefully learn how to let go of those feelings, forgive yourself, and push ahead. Experts say, "In any and every moment of your life, you are either in command of yourself, or you are being commanded." If you hold onto shame and guilt of your addiction or things you may have done when using, it will control you and your behavior.


From there, you might believe you don't deserve happiness and instead self-sabotage your recovery.


#3 You speak poorly of yourself.


Negative self-talk is very common during recovery. Speaking poorly of yourself encourages you to live up to those low standards you believe you are worth. Having low self-esteem only pushes you to fulfill those thoughts.


#4 You overcomplicate minor problems.


Throughout recovery, you relearn how to live your life without drugs or alcohol. You handle everyday stressors and problems. But, when you let a slight hiccup like traffic ruin your day and mood, you are allowing external factors to control you. Taking small issues and making them bigger gives you an excuse to overreact.


#5 You complain about others.


Blaming others for your problems is a telltale sign of self-sabotage. Recovery is about taking accountability for your actions. When you blame your coworkers for why you can't get work done or use things outside of your control to excuse your poor behavior, you are moving backward and sabotaging your recovery.


How to Stop Self-Sabotaging


These examples of self-sabotage in recovery are all brought on by feelings of fear, low self-confidence, or even imposture syndrome. Facing the causes head-on is what will help you push past self-sabotage and break that cycle.


When you notice yourself showing signs of self-sabotage in recovery it is important to get help. Go to a meeting or call your sponsor or therapist.


Admitting what is happening and taking back control of your behavior will help you stop self-sabotaging and continue on in your recovery. Recovery is not about perfection, but progress. Sometimes that progress is harder or slower than at other times, but that is okay. Just keep moving forward.


Self-sabotage in recovery is not rare. Being your own worst enemy is part of having an addiction. Self-destructive behaviors come with addiction and can be hard to break, even when you're sober. Understanding what self-sabotage is and what causes it can help you learn how to recognize it. Once you can spot the warning signs, you can help yourself prevent self-sabotage during recovery. Being able to admit that you are struggling or need more guidance from professionals, peers, or family members will help you move forward through your recovery. Accepting that recovery is an ongoing process with ups and downs will encourage you to hold onto hope rather than letting your urge to self-sabotage take control. If you are experiencing self-sabotage during recovery, reach out to California Care Detox & Treatment today for more help. We are here for you in any way you need. Call us now at (949) 281-0632.

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