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Perfectionism in Early Recovery

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Though a perfectionist attitude is often a hallmark of high achievers who push themselves to make great strides in their careers and other aspects of their lives, there is also a dark side of striving too hard. For a true perfectionist, anything even slightly less than what they see as “the best” will never be good enough. Because perfectionists beat themselves up over the slightest failure, perfectionist tendencies can make you your own worst enemy.

Addiction and Perfectionism Go Hand in Hand

There is a well-documented link between perfectionism and addiction. Perfectionists and addicts both have developed distorted worldviews that make them see themselves as “less than.” The struggle to attain perfection can also create mental burdens like alienation, anxiety and depression, which many addicts try to “self-medicate” by turning to drugs and alcohol.

Because perfectionists often believe asking for help indicates weakness, they may be the last to admit they have a problem and seek treatment for their addiction. Denial plays a role in many addicts’ lives, but for perfectionists, it can be even more significant. If you are a perfectionist, you may be unwilling to accept the degree to which you have lost control to an addiction. The fear of not achieving 100 percent success is enough to hold perfectionists with an active addiction back from entering recovery.

Overcoming Perfectionist Tendencies

Recovery can be an especially challenging time for someone with perfectionist qualities, because they are accustomed to holding themselves to an unrealistically high standard of success.

Here are some of the ways in which perfectionists might self-sabotage in recovery:

  • Believing they can never slip up. A perfectionist in the early stages of abstinence-based recovery might believe they should not face any roadblocks in their process. However, anyone who has committed to long-term recovery will tell you setbacks are a normal and acceptable part of life.
  • Setting too many goals. Perfectionists set an extremely high bar for themselves. They are used to making too many resolutions – especially around this time of year. However, having too many goals is a recipe for failure. Instead, set specific, attainable and measurable landmarks for yourself to make success more likely. Remember, recovery involves taking things one day at a time.
  • Believing they can go it alone. Instead of asking for help when they need it, most perfectionists will tell themselves they can get over an addiction on their own through sheer willpower. This attitude is not a healthy approach to managing an addiction. Attaining long-term recovery is much more likely with professional help from qualified specialists.

Start Your Recovery and Healing Today

At Canyon Crossing, we help women learn to live fulfilling and healthy lives without the burdens of drug and alcohol abuse. Contact us today to begin your recovery process and reclaim your potential.

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