Alcoholism and drug addiction are complicated. Rarely, if ever, does someone abuse drugs or drink alcoholically without underlying symptoms. Oddly enough, one of the more common psychological afflictions for addicts is perfectionism. We drink or drug out of celebration for a perfect event.
We may especially indulge ourselves to dangerously intoxicated levels when things don’t work out perfectly according to our envisioned expectations. Perfectionism and addiction can be a frightening combination. So, what about those of us who have put some clean and sober time under our belt?
Is perfectionism a risk factor for relapse? As with a number of other emotional issues and psychological symptoms that drive addiction, the answer is yes. However, read on because there are solutions to this emotional challenge, as well as many of the other issues that compel someone to forfeit their sobriety and relapse.
What is Perfectionism?
Have you ever witnessed someone who simply has to keep doing something over and over again, even if it quite adequate, until the final outcome is perfect? Are you one of those types of people? Many who suffer from debilitating substance abuse problems are as well.
As we mentioned, alcoholics and drug addicts overuse and drink obsessively to cover up disappointment, as well as to overindulge from exuberant conviviality. We become intoxicated because things worked out perfectly, and we feel the need to get equally intoxicated when the opposite happens.
Perfectionism is an unrealistic pursuit of an idealist mindset that everything must be that way. Many people obsessively strive to put every little aspect of their life in perfect order, because inside their minds their life is a web of chaos.
This is where the problem with addiction and perfectionism are like gasoline and matches. One bad roll of life’s dice can be the spark that ignites a perfectionist addict to relapse. It is quite the conundrum, because recovery is rarely perfect.
So perfectionism is the unrealistic anticipation that life is going to be perfect. We all know that it is rarely the case. Recovery is a lifelong journey that will never be perfect. Just as in life, there will be challenges and disappointments.
When things do not go perfectly according to a perfectionist’s absolute model of ideal, it can be a relapse trigger. So, what types of tools can you apply to avoid relapse, if you are an addict who happens to be a perfectionist as well?
Perfectionism and Addiction
If you are a perfectionist, you struggle to cope with life, especially in relation to your addiction. This is where treatment and individual therapy is imperative. Just like people recover from devastating addictions, you can ease the burden of living a perfect life as well.
To avoid relapse, a perfectionist addict must marry these two pursuits in a workable union. The first thing you must do is get clean and sober. You won’t be putting your obsession to be perfect aside. However, to overcome one you need the other.
Failure to stay clean and sober with treatment can be a very dangerous situation for a perfectionist. The combination can be life-threatening. Trained addiction specialists appreciate the fact that underlying symptoms such as perfectionism are invariably the triggers for addiction.
That’s why you will immediately work day-by-day to build clean and sober time, plus begin to unearth the root cause of why you think everything has to be perfect. Treatment will help you marry these two important battles together.
As a perfectionist, you may well struggle with a tendency to set excessively high standards. Envisioning a life of sobriety vs. working a recovery program on a daily basis can be hard for you.
You must guard against allowing the overwhelming frustration at perfectionists experience. That is why it is so important to reveal the problem early in treatment. Any discouraging life event could spark shame and remorse.
These two emotional byproducts of failing to live up to your level of perfectionism are prime emotions for relapse. Being aware of them ahead of time is essential. Perfectionism also tends to distort reality.
Early in treatment you will begin to build defenses against your perfectionism launching you into a dysfunctional tirade of denial and excuses. You may be thinking this is an honest assessment of how my emotions seesaw from one extreme to the other.
These are the things you will unveil during an addiction treatment program. You won’t be magically cured of your addiction or your perfectionist tendencies up finishing treatment. You will need to follow daily suggestions to improve gradually at both.
When openly admitting and addressing any emotional shortcoming happens, it flings open the doors of hope. It doesn’t matter if you’re a perfectionist, narcissist, battle obsessive compulsions, or any other myriad of emotional challenges.
Is perfectionism a risk factor for relapse? If you’re a recovering alcoholic or drug addict who is also a perfectionist, the answer is yes. But, it doesn’t mean you have to relapse. There are caring, trained addictions specialists who can help attack this risk and beat it.
No matter if you’re a perfectionist or not, if you feel you have a problem with drugs or alcohol but haven’t asked for help, make the call today. While there may be no perfect cure for your addiction, there is hope. Your journey in recovery can start today. Make a perfect choice, and ask for help.Call us at 844-639-8371.