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Progress Not Perfection

Moving Forward in Recovery Without Dwelling on Mistakes

Recovery from any serious illness, whether physical or mental/emotional, involves a tremendous amount of patience. The addiction recovery process is no different. Patience requires the acceptance of mistakes and acknowledging that they are a normal part of personal growth.

Hence, the term “Progress Not Perfection” is often used in addiction treatment and 12-step programs to remind those in recovery that while perfection is not attainable, improvement ALWAYS is.

Healing doesn’t happen overnight.

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Addiction is a disease, and while there is no “cure,” sustainable recovery IS possible with a lifelong commitment. Due to chemical and functional changes in the brain, sobriety requires long-term personal and lifestyle changes. Moreover, healing takes time – usually, a great deal of time.

Both a person’s mental/emotional and physical well-being are predicated upon personal development and insight. Embracing sobriety is the first step, but the act of being sober does not change the past nor does it immediately wipe out brain changes or the triggers associated with substance use.

Therefore, recovery is often a case of “two steps forward, one step back.” And that’s okay. Forward momentum is needed to avoid or minimize relapses, and in reality, that’s all anyone needs to continue improving their life and reparation of relationships.

“Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below.”

-Noam Chomsky

“Start out slow if you must. Once you’ve begun, you are already ahead of most people.”

~ G. Edward McDaniel

You aren’t the same as before the addiction, but you aren’t the same as when you were in the throes of addiction, either.

When you engage in sobriety, a wealth of emotions, both bad and good, come spiraling up to the surface of your conscience. Because some of these feelings are difficult to deal with, the temptation to use again can become quite powerful.

But every minute, every day, every week you abstain from using is a victory. If you achieve 30 days and relapse, it doesn’t have to be the end of the line. It’s a learning experience, and how you, as a sentient being, interpret it.

Moreover, you can view a relapse event as a failure, under the presumption that you are weak and can’t handle it – or, you can perceive it as a normal, learnable mistake that can be used to help you avoid the feelings and triggers that led to the relapse in the first place.

According to psychologists, the five stages of change are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. What’s remarkable is this…if you are in recovery, you are already engaging in stage four – action. You are literally 80% of the way to a complete transformation. – remember this.

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”

~ Barack Obama

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Recovery requires a mental transformation.

By now, you are probably starting to understand how these three components of progress vs. perfection intertwine. Time + changes = transformation. But no transformation occurs without experiencing some setbacks.

Moreover, you have to let go of the idea that recovery is a do-or-die situation, predicated upon how perfectly you can rearrange your life and cope with the emotional aspects that contributed to the addiction. Mental transformation occurs because effort and patience are the basis for that metamorphosis, and people in recovery can lose sight of this fact and quickly become frustrated when setbacks occur.

But acknowledging and celebrating progress helps to remind us that we have made difficult strides and have come a long way from where we once were. You can’t change the past, but you can change the future, and if you falter, all you need to do is learn from those challenges and how to triumph over them in the end.

“Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up.”

~ Joseph Campbell

“Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you do, and fix it along the way… ”

~ Paul Arden

We provide a comprehensive, holistic method to treatment, encompassing a wide array of different evidence-based practices in combination. All of Midwood Addiction Treatment’s primary therapists are either licensed or master’s level clinicians.

Our programs are structured with various components of evidence-based treatment practices and holistic approaches to treatment that provide our patients with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their recovery.

If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek help as soon as possible.

Call us now to learn about our treatment options.

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