How to Cope With Recovery Burnout

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When you first begin your recovery journey, you're likely going to be feeling very motivated and excited for the future. You've taken the first big steps toward bettering yourself and can now begin to live the life you know you deserve. But as time goes on, the level of motivation that you may feel may begin to wane. This is what is known as recovery burnout. 

You can experience recovery burnout at any time. It doesn't matter if you've been sober for one year or several decades. You can simply reach a point where you don't feel like putting in the same level of work and dedication into your recovery that you once did. It's important that you address this problem and take action right away. If not, recovery burnout can potentially lead to relapse down the road. 

Facilities like Pathways Recovery Center can help you to rekindle your motivation when it comes to your recovery. 

Understanding Why Recovery Burnout Happens

There can be a lot of different reasons that play into why you may be experiencing recovery burnout. It may be for seemingly no reason at all and something that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. But it could also be tied to specific emotions or life events that are going on. Working with a therapist can be a great way to help determine why you are experiencing these feelings. 

In recovery, you learn how to cope with stress and negative emotions without turning to substance misuse. But in some situations, life can become so overwhelming and difficult that thoughts of giving up on your recovery may creep back in. These thoughts may even occur completely unconsciously. 

For example, maybe you're trying to balance multiple jobs and take care of a family at the same time. Or maybe you've recently experienced a loss and don't feel as if you have the mental energy to continue keeping up with your long-term treatment plan. No matter what you're going through, don't give up on your recovery. Reach out for help if you need it. 

What Recovery Burnout Looks Like

Everyone displays signs of recovery burnout differently. You might not even be consciously aware that this is something that you're struggling with. But there are some common things that people who are experiencing recovery burnout do, say, or think. Consider the following signs: 

  • Skipping 12-Step support group meetings 
  • Canceling therapy sessions
  • Visiting places where your sobriety could be threatened, especially places where you used to engage in substance use in the past
  • Hanging around people who may threaten your sobriety 
  • Failing to practice techniques you've learned, such as stress management tactics 
  • Talking or thinking about your past substance misuse in a positive way
  • Feeling as if you no longer need to keep up with your recovery treatment plan to stay sober 

Coping With Recovery Burnout

The first thing you should do if you're experiencing recovery burnout is reach out to your treatment provider or therapist. They can help you sort through how you're feeling and provide you with guidance for getting yourself motivated again. If regular therapy is not already a part of your treatment plan, consider trying it out for a while. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it. 

Sometimes getting over recovery burnout can be similar to getting out of a rut. You may just need to change things up a bit to get back on track. If you've been in recovery for a while, some of the things that you've been doing to stay sober may no longer be serving you as well as they once did. There may be alternative options that will prove more effective. 

Consider your 12-Step support group. Are you continuing to learn and benefit from it? If not, you may want to think about trying out a different group, at least for a while. This will allow you to meet new people, have new experiences, and continue to learn and grow. And if you haven't already, consider becoming a sponsor. Watching someone else take their life back from addiction and grow into a better version of themselves can help to remind you of why you got sober in the first place. It can help instill fresh motivation that you can use yourself. 

If you've been in recovery for a while, you might feel as if you've learned all you can about recovery and yourself. But there are many, many books out there that can help you learn more about topics surrounding addiction and how to thrive in recovery. Also, make sure that you're making time for fun sober activities. Life isn't about being serious all the time. Making time for fun is crucial for your mental health and overall wellness. It can help prevent recovery burnout from happening in the first place. 

You should also consider making time to connect with sober friends and just hang out. If you would like to learn about other ways to cope with recovery burnout, our team at Pathways Recovery Center can help.

As someone who is in recovery for an extended period of time knows, the journey comes with both lows and highs. There will be days when you feel confident and completely in control of your sobriety. But there may be other days that are more challenging. On these days, you may lack the motivation to keep up with your treatment. You may even feel like giving up entirely. Don't give up; you've come this far. If you are struggling with recovery burnout or have experienced a relapse, there is help available. Our team at Pathways Recovery Center can help get you back on track. Reach out to our team today by calling (888) 771-0966

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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