Drinking and Drugging Goals Don’t Work

Substance abusers often set goals for the use of alcohol or drugs: I’ll quit next week; I’ll only have five drinks throughout the whole weekend; I’ll drink only wine and beer; I’ll never use a needle. For most addicted individuals, these goals never work. Making choices like these are not an option, because the part of the brain that is diseased is the part that makes healthy choices. A true addict will not be able to reach drinking or drugging goals.

The goals that do work are recovery goals. These are broader goals, a bigger view of life. Once addictive substances have left the body, the brain heals quickly and vision for a happy, productive life is free to emerge.

What Does Work: Recovery Goals

Think about specific goals – short-term goals that are obtainable in a matter of months, and long-term goals that are achievable more gradually. For instance, a specific short-term recovery goal might be eating balanced meals at dinnertime. A longer-term goal might be learning how to do some gourmet cooking. Notice how neither goal has anything at all to do with drugs or alcohol. Notice how the goal is not “eat healthy” but a more specific goal.

Make sure goals are realistic. Do not set a goal you are not going to be able to keep. It can be frustrating and stressful. For example, if you set a goal to buy a home within six months and you have poor credit and no job that may not be realistic. It is possible, but do not set yourself up to fail. A short-term goal might be to get a job within three months, with a mid-term goal of improving your credit record and a long-term goal of buying a home.

You can ask professionals for help with goal setting. Therapists, a trusted friend or family member may be able to help you get on track. You may also want to have a point contact for accountability as you take steps toward your goal. When will you make the phone call? Which websites will you research? How many times did you work out last week? Make sure your goals are specific, realistic and that you have someone who can be on your team as you move forward with your awesome, new life.

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