Whether seeking residential alcohol rehab centres or support for an outpatient addiction recovery programme, positivity and optimism are of critical importance. It is largely impossible to succeed unless you are committed to achieving both short term and long-term goals, maintaining a positive and proactive attitude at all times.
That said, it’s also just as important to avoid unrealistic expectations – both in terms of the recovery process itself and life after rehab. Of course, getting into things with low or negative expectations can be counterproductive and set the respective individual up for failure. But at the same time, expecting too much or having unrealistic expectations as to what the process involves can be equally detrimental.
So with this in mind, what follows is a brief overview of just a few common examples of the kinds of unrealistic expectations that can prove problematic during the addiction treatment and recovery process:
- Expecting both the treatment and the overall recovery process itself to be easy. Unless you accept that there will be difficult times ahead, you are already on thin ice.
- Thinking that rehab or professional treatment of any kind will bring about instant gratification, satisfaction and improvement. In reality, things can often take considerably longer than expected.
- Assuming that the timescale required for the recovery process to be successful it can be pinpointed and established. The problem being that every recovering addict across the board recovers in a different way and at a different pace.
- Not quite grasping how much hard work and dedication you have to put into the recovery process yourself, instead assuming that most of the work is carried out by doctors and professionals on your behalf.
- Believing that you will be able to go through the full addiction recovery process on your own, or with minimal support. The likelihood of succeeding when going it alone plummets drastically.
- Counting on treatment and a recovery process in general that is wrapped up quickly. While some make very rapid progress and only require short courses of treatment, for others it is a much longer and more complicated process.
- Thinking that the side effects and withdrawal symptoms associated with addiction recovery can be avoided. While it’s perfectly possible to have all detrimental side effects and withdrawal symptoms effectively managed by professionals, it is inevitable that unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will be experienced.
- Expecting everyone around you to offer nothing but the strongest support, total positivity and praise for what you are doing. Some might, but others might not be as nearly as supportive or understanding as you expect.
- Assuming that just as soon as the treatment process is complete, life will suddenly return back to normal. The truth is, there’s a chance your life may never fully return to exactly how it was prior to your addiction, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be equally enjoyable, successful and rewarding.
- Believing that when you complete your course of rehab, this is where the recovery process comes to an end. In reality, this is actually where long-term recovery process only begins.
It’s natural to have at least a few expectations that aren’t exactly realistic, given the way in which most of those entering rehab or similar courses of treatment have no prior experience. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand the dangers of unrealistic expectations, in order to ensure that they are tailored accordingly.
Dangers of Having Unrealistic Expectations
If you don’t set expectations that are realistic, you aren’t necessarily doomed to failure. Nevertheless, you could certainly make the treatment and recovery process more difficult than it needs to be. Exactly how damaging the unrealistic expectations are varies from one case to the next, but just a few of the potential consequences of unrealistic expectations include the following:
- Disappointment. The most obvious danger is of course feeling disappointed and let down, having found that things don’t actually work in practice as you imagined they would.
- Relapse. The biggest danger of all is that of relapse, which becomes significantly more probable when your expectations are not realistic.
- Complacency. There’s also the possibility that incorrect assumptions regarding the simplicity of the treatment and recovery process can lead to dangerous complacency and the lack of effort.
- Pressure. If setting your sights on the fastest possible recovery, you may push yourself are too hard and succumb to the pressure.
- Depression. When you set your sights too high and reality delivers a hammer blow, it can often lead to depression.