The Secret Addiction Recovery Guide | Why Goals Matter

Setting goals can make addiction recovery practical. Learn how to set goals in this easy-to-follow article.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Are you starting a new life without drugs or alcohol? This article teaches you a practical method for setting goals … so that you can target (and get) what you want.



Common Fears

Fear and doubt are the most common obstacles people face when starting a recovery program. Most of us diagnosed with an addiction problem are scared about our ability to live a new life that DOES NOT include drugs any more. We doubt our ability to cope with life. We are scared of cravings. We don’t know what the future holds.


Q: How can you get through the first months or years of recovery with so many uncertainties?
A: By setting and achieving goals, one at a time.

But before we teach you how to set goals, we want to let you know that you are not alone in your fears. If you’re new to early addiction recovery,this new period in your life can trigger a lifetime of suppressed anxious thoughts.  Some of the more common fears that crop up include questions like:

  • Does recovery means I will stop using/drinking forever?
  • Is quitting going to be painful?
  • Can I afford treatment?
  • Will I lose my job?
  • Will I be able to succeed achieving sobriety?
  • What happens if I fail? What if I relapse?
  • How can I be sure I won’t reach for alcohol/drugs again?

Does this sound familiar to you? If it does, than you should know that you are not alone. Most people new to recovery waiver in terms of motivation, commitment, and belief that they can succeed.

If you are facing these fear and want to make a real start in addiction recovery, then this article is for you! This article is less about “the spiritual solution”, however, and more about practical steps that you can take. Below, you’ll find out how to set goals and plan your addiction recovery! In fact, goals can make the journey much easier.


By targeting what you want to achieve.

Setting Goals: What’s The Big Deal?

So, what’s a goal in the first place? We looked it up. According to Florida International University, goals are defined as: ”

Written statements that clearly describe certain actions or tasks with a measurable end result to be accomplished by a specific date”.

Setting goals in addiction recovery is very important because it guides you towards the things you want to change. In fact, goals are helpful tools for overcoming the fear and doubt that are right over your shoulder.

Overcoming an addiction is more than just a simple change of unhealthy habits. It is about practicing these changes every day! Well established and clear goals makes changing harmful patterns easier and more tangible. And when you achieve a goal…you can build on it. In this way, creating a vision helps you build self-esteem, confidence, and faith.

How can setting and reaching a goal help you develop faith? Well, goals in recovery work as a bridge to understanding what we CAN and CANNOT control. By changing “what we can”, we can let go of the things over which we have little or no control at all.

The Process

Goal setting also requires check in. When setting up your recovery goals try to follow the protocol recommended by business experts, which includes:

  1. First, define effective goal statements.
  2. Then, divide recovery goals into steps.
  3. Take one step at a time.
  4. Stop to evaluate your progress.
  5. Adjust your actions, plan, or goal as necessary.

Recovery goals are extremely helpful. But how are they usually measured? It’s easy. After a set period of time, say two months, or maybe three, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. How far I’ve come?
  2. What do others perceive as change in me?

Example Goal Statements

Following are examples of effective goal statements:

“I will wake up at the same time every day for one month, make my bed, and say a prayer.”

“I will commit to cardiovascular exercise for 20 minutes 3 times per week.”

“I will attend 90 support group meetings in 90 days.”

“I will meet at least one new contact in every support group meeting I attend.”

“I will attend weekly psychotherapy sessions.”

“I will call my loved one every [frequency].”

These goals have a few things in common. They are:

  • Specific
  • Time limited
  • Measurable

How to Do It

They key to setting goal in recovery from addiction is getting in touch with your inner self. Facing the consequences of the past can drive you to be better. Those past behaviors and habits can be the fuel you need to change and help you define what you need to work on in your recovery program. So, when you need a reminder…reflect on what you DON’T WANT TO REPEAT.

Here are the steps that we suggest to help you think about and determine your personal goals in recovery.

  1. Choose some quiet place where you feel comfortable being by yourself for a while.
  2. Put your goals on paper. It is important that you write down your goals. This way they will have a more powerful effect on your mind.
  3. Set realistic goals and only give yourself challenges that are achievable. Also, don’t set too many goals. Sometimes, one or two is enough at a time.
  4. Think about what you want to change and list at least three actions required for you to achieve that change.
  5. Write down the reasons you want to make the specific changes.
  6. Define the goal statement. Describe what you’ll do. Make sure that you goal is specific, time limited, and mesaurable.
  7. Then, list the obstacles or barriers that could interfere and ways you can overcome these barriers. Include other people who can help you with the goal, as well. Think about ways other people can help you. Write them down.
  8. Identify a timeline for working on the identified goals. How will you know when you have achieved each of your goals?
  9. Determine the way you’ll track progress. Will you ask someone to help hold you accountable? Will you set a date in your planner and evaluate yourself in one week? One month?
  10. When the time comes for assessment, celebrate your victories! Note your change in writing. Take someone out to dinner to celebrate. Whatever. Just live in that moment of achievement. This way, you can build up the energy to attract more positive change and to attain more.

3 Things To Avoid

  1. Avoid being unrealistic when setting your goals. Instead, make smaller but achievable goals. Setting and reaching these little goals will help your raise your self-esteem and increase your motivation.
  2. Avoid aiming for perfection. Give yourself credit for your small victories. Recovery is about progress not perfection.
  3. Avoid  old beliefs and behaviors. Aim for healthy habits that include sport and social interaction with new people. If you need help with goals, consult with a mentor, a sponsor, or a trusted friend.


We hope that you have a clearer picture about how to set your recovery goals? In case you have any additional questions, feel free to use the comments section below. We will be happy to answer all legitimate inquiries and try to get back with our readers as soon as possible.

Reference sources: Therapist AID: Therapy Goals worksheet
FIU: What is a Goal?
American Addiction Centers: Set Effective Goals for Your Recovery
Promises: 5 Steps to Prioritize Your Recovery Goals
Addictions and Recovery: A Recovery Checklist
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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