Success Isn’t Binary

Success Isn’t Binary

Many recovery goals center around the idea that someone wants to “get better” or overcome their urges daily to call themselves sober or healed. Daily stresses and struggles may suggest that someone isn’t “better” yet, and thus they may continue to look at their days with a list of things that they still need to address or issues they still want to conquer. However, looking at recovery as an all-or-nothing, binary process can prove detrimental to recovery as a whole. Recovery is inherently a process, and there are many ways that someone can experience hard-earned success and still have other aspects of their recovery that they want to address. Even in the most challenging times, identifying success can help someone continue to progress in their recovery healthily while also allowing them to continue to fine-tune their recovery plan and coping mechanisms. 

Recognizing Success Through Difficult Trials

There can be any number of stressors that someone experiences each day. From urges to social responsibilities, there is no shortage of anxiety-producing elements that make up daily life. Amidst these stressors and the coping mechanisms required to deal with them, it can be challenging to recognize how far someone has come in their recovery. However, realizing that recovery isn’t a binary process means finding one’s success even when surrounded by many other factors that may still need to be addressed. 

There may be many struggles throughout recovery, and some days may be more challenging to cope with than others. However, looking at one’s objective success can be an essential tool for empowerment. Even if someone is experiencing extreme anxiety or depression through the recovery process, remaining sober through all of the difficulties is the hallmark of success. While someone may still struggle with social anxieties or have trouble balancing their finances in their new lives, they may have also been proud of their art therapy or have incorporated a consistent meditation schedule in their days. While these things may seem entirely separate, they are each an essential element of one’s overall recovery. Focusing on just what someone has left to do, rather than looking at the whole picture of what they have accomplished, can lead someone to discredit themselves and the truly staggering amount of progress that they have made.

Fine-Tuning Your Strategies

Looking at stressful events and identifying the cause of the stressor and how someone wishes they handled it better and the elements that someone managed effectively can further refine their coping strategies. Looking at these successes is incredibly essential. Even in the most stressful times or most dire emotional states, being able to identify that someone has made progress in their recovery in some way can be the extra motivational push that they need to continue their journey. If someone were to find themselves in emotional duress due to an incredibly difficult stressor in their day, they can break down the event to find out how they can refine their coping strategies. While someone may have been experiencing stress due to the lack of preparation, lack of an escape plan, or lack of contact with supports during an unforeseen stressful event, they may have also successfully employed at the moment breathing strategies to help calm themselves down. These successes can help identify where someone may need to focus their recovery and simultaneously highlight successes and their strengths. 

Finding Ways to Fairly Measure Yourself

Experiencing and struggling with specific stressors, or even going through a particularly rough patch in one’s recovery for any reason, can cause someone to doubt their progress or wonder why they aren’t “better” yet. However, this kind of thinking is hugely detrimental. Understanding that success can’t be measured in a black-and-white manner may take time, but it is ultimately intended to help someone fairly judge themselves and their success. Keeping a journal and tracking’s one’s progress, either by looking at daily emotional states or seeing running documentation on all of the skills that someone is learning, can be impactful in measuring success. There isn’t a point where someone will be ultimately “cured” from addiction and never have to worry about the stresses of using an addictive substance or engaging in addictive behavior again. However, there are ways for someone to measure their success by implementing individual strategies daily objectively. Measuring oneself on their own merits means realizing that anxiety, while it still may be a problem, is also not delving into a panic. There is success in that, even if there is still work to be done. Recovery doesn’t happen in a day and may need fine-tuning as someone continues to progress in their journey through sobriety. 


Success in recovery can mean different things to different people, depending on where you want to go. If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol or has experienced troubles coping with your effects of trauma, Brighton Recovery Center can help. The large, six-building campus is available for all who attend any of our varied programs, from sober living to outpatient care and alumni services. The recreation center is equipped with a gym, yoga studio, thrift store, coffee shop, and much more, all available to help those engage in an active recovery community or to help someone learn valuable life skills and earn work experience. Your stay with us is personalized to help you address your own needs in recovery while highlighting your strengths and providing a safe, understanding community to help you dive deeper into your vulnerabilities to address the roots of your daily struggles. To learn more about how we can personalize a plan for you, call us today at (844) 479-7035.

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