Barriers to Change in Recovery

Those on a path to recovery will face formidable challenges that threaten their sobriety. But every person is different, and so are their unique set of barriers to change in recovery.

Therefore, committing to recovery alone is not enough to guarantee life-long recovery.

Individuals must overcome these barriers to give themselves the best chance of success in recovery.

But you’re not alone; any good addiction rehabilitation centre or treatment facility can provide you with all the tools you need to overcome these challenges.

In addition, getting help and making the recovery process easier gives you the best chance to move beyond these barriers.

Letting Your Barriers Motivate You

These challenges can also have a practical aspect on our recovery. Painful feelings, such as anxiety and depression, can be vital to the recovery process.

When people suffer from ill mental health, they can become highly motivated to change their lives.

Ever heard of ‘no pain, no gain?’ Most in recovery understand that they need to go through some painful feelings to reach sobriety.

However, to work out what barriers are in the way of change and to go through change itself can help the individual work through the transition, promoting their development.

Although receiving individualised psychotherapy and diagnosis at a treatment centre will help individuals identify their specific personal triggers, there are a set of broad challenges that many experiences in recovery.

Delay, denial, fear, not trusting the process, lack of knowledge and support are common challenges. Being aware of these barriers gives you a better chance of life-long recovery.

Delaying Your Recovery

Finding reasons to delay your recovery is one of the most challenging obstacles to sobriety. Many individuals want to change but find it hard to make the change.

They may even tell friends and family, ‘I’m going to get help or ‘this time, I’m going to do it.’

Although the intention to get sober is there, it can take time for individuals to make these changes.

Delays in recovery can come about because some people feel the time needs to be exactly right. They think they should wait until they believe they are genuinely addicted or may be weighing up the pros and cons of starting recovery now.

Others may be hooked on a sense of perfectionism, needing the time, place, and other small details to be perfect for the best chance of success.

Lastly, denial is one of the most common reasons for the delay in recovery. When people deny that they have an addiction, their recovery inevitably slows down. When people assume there’s nothing wrong; they don’t need to fix it.

Unfortunately, those who realise they have an addiction may not see or understand how their addiction affects their friends and family, not realising there is a need for change.

But by understanding the actual consequences of their actions, individuals can take the appropriate and immediate steps.

On the other hand, by not acting or delaying action, a person can often stay stuck in old behaviours, and the consequences of their addiction can begin to pile up. [1]

Fear of the Unknown

There are many fears surrounding recovery, fears that can leave your feet almost physically rooted to the ground.

Knowing that overcoming addiction will require an initial detox programme is terrifying for most people.

The idea of giving up something that has been their coping strategy for potentially years, and going through the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal, can be enough to put anyone off recovery. [2]

However, professional drug and alcohol treatment centres have staff who can safely and comfortably see you through drug and alcohol withdrawal.

But with many other fears linked to addiction, anxiety is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving recovery.

Fear of beginning or moving forward in your recovery journey can come from many rooted fears.

Fears include:

  • Everyone knowing your business
  • Losing your job, failure
  • Letting down loved ones
  • What the future will bring
  • Being judged
  • And lastly, fear of the unknown.

Fear is never a good thing; it very rarely motivates us. To get past the what’s if and fear of recovery, focus on how big the fear is of continuing the addictive life you are in now. [3]

Mistrust for the Process

Mistrust and cynicism are rigid walls to get past in recovery. Even when individuals feel ready to accept their problem and accept help, they often don’t trust the process and people involved.

Trusting a stranger, no matter their title or the number of degrees they hold, can feel silly. A cloud of cynicism can hover over those who do want to obtain sobriety.

Many in recovery also don’t trust themselves, feeling they will probably fail. By holding counsellors, group therapy members and sponsors from getting close, individuals try to protect themselves from being let down by professionals and themselves.

Try to overcome this fear by voicing it to those who are trying to help you. It’s also ok to politely ask professionals where their support and guidance comes from, whether that’s from extensive education, observation, or personal experience.

They won’t be offended, likely having been asked these questions time and time again.

For those with vast experience, common sense will hopefully tell you that they can help you find solutions to your addiction.

So try to drop your guard and take on board the advice and suggestions given to you, and you might even learn some trust if the outcomes work.

Take that leap of faith. [4]

Lack of Knowledge and Resources

One of the most common barriers to successful recovery comes from a lack of knowledge.

For example, it’s a dangerous assumption that just giving up alcohol or drugs is all you need for a successful recovery. But this leaves you with the lowest chance of life-long sobriety.

The work needed to get you past the point where you’re stuck in recovery can be complex, but it’s made easier when you know the how and where to get help.

In addition, a lack of knowledge about the recovery process, in general, will stop individuals from seeking help.

For example, not knowing that the detox process can be safely and comfortably managed through a professional rehab service would make you less inclined to start recovering.

Many also don’t realise that they are entitled to medical assistance, that GP’s can help, and that drug and alcohol treatment centres can provide a range of treatments to give you the best chance of sobriety.

In contrast, even when individuals accept the need for change, they do not feel they have the resources to move forward.

A person’s family and home life, work obligations, financial situation or public profile can make it seem impossible to embark upon addiction treatments.

However, talk to your GP or your local drug and alcohol treatment centre for help and advice on the appropriate treatment options for you.

Feeling Isolated

Those who have everything else they need to overcome the change in recovery often lack one essential factor: the support and encouragement of friends and family. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.

A lack of support can lead to brooding feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness. It can also delay the recovery process, resulting in a decline in motivation or obligation to achieve sobriety.

For those that do not have the support of family and friends, there is help available in addiction support groups. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who share your problems, experiences and addictions can be extremely comforting.

In addition, sharing your experiences and taking in the suffering of others can give help you learn how others have coped. [5]

Becoming Unstuck

When people fail to overcome these common barriers, they can become stuck in recovery, never moving forward. So instead, try to obtain the beginner’s mind in recovery.

Allowing this mindset to take over means letting go of old, solid beliefs and opinions that would get in the way of your recovery.

Doing so allows your mind to take in new knowledge that’s essential to your recovery. Even temporarily, putting aside your views can allow you to assess your situation and accept any help offered.

This mindset, therefore, gives you the best chance of achieving life-long sobriety. By being open enough to learning and change, you can progress and become unstuck in recovery.