There are many dangerous attitudes one is likely to adopt after several solid and successful months of maintained sobriety. No attitude, however, is more dangerous than complacency. As soon as an individual adopts a complacent outlook, his or her chance of relapse increases significantly. So what is complacency, and what can we do to avoid it?
Complacency is defined as, “a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself and one’s achievements”. Complacency usually sneaks up unannounced when you have been doing everything ‘right’ for an extended period of time, and you are finally beginning to feel okay. You may have a solid three months of sobriety under your belt; you have been going to meetings on a daily basis, working with your sponsor once or twice a week, and generally kicking serious butt in the realm of recovery. One day you say to yourself, “I’ve been going to meetings every day, and drinking is the furthest thing from my mind. I can take one day off and be okay.” So you skip a meeting, and surprise! Everything is just fine. The next week, you take two days to yourself, assuming that missing one meeting didn’t affect you so why should missing two? Soon you are only attending your homegroup once a week, and although you don’t realize it at first, your rapidly deteriorating program of recovery is beginning to affect your mood. You stop calling your sponsor, figuring maybe you will be able to get by on your own after all. Before you know it you are drunk at the bar, cursing yourself for picking up yet again and wondering how you let things get so out of control. The rapidity of this snowball effect may seem a bit dramatic – but this is essentially how complacency unfolds.
How to Avoid Falling Into Complacent Behavior
The best way to avoid complacency is to be sure to stay on track regardless of how great you feel. Complacency becomes an issue when you start to regain everything you had previously lost at the hands of addiction – friends, familial support, a job, a car, and some money in the bank. Your recovery might take the backburner, overshadowed by all of the amazing opportunities that are now presenting themselves to you. It is absolutely crucial to keep in mind that everything you put before your recovery, you are destined to lose. This mantra has helped keep me in check when everything is going well and I start to prioritize work, socializing, and personal goal pursuing. Recovery is about maintaining balance – never forget what allowed you to gain everything you have thus far… a dedication and perseverance towards a better way of life.