When Progress Does Not Feel Like Progress in Recovery

When Progress Does Not Feel Like Progress in Recovery

Denial is an element in grief and element in recovery and an everyday element in life. It’s a way of coping with things we can’t understand or believe, and it's a way of working toward the acceptance of what truly is. Facing addiction head-on leads to a number of coping skills as we deny what we once did, or deny that it is possible to recover and heal, or deny that any progress is being made. In fact, in recovery, we often deny our progress because we can't see past the desired perfection that our minds are inclined to seek as a sign of ANY progressive movement. But, in recovery, we must learn to seek progress--not perfection! In fact, this is one of the first things they teach in rehab. The point is to set achievable goals; specifically, small goals that signify progress towards a bigger, major goal. If we go through life seeking perfection, we always feel defeated because there is always someone that did more, did it faster or did it better than we ever could have--right? So when progress doesn't feel like progress, what can we do?

Learn how to Measure Progress

The first step to recognizing progress in recovery is to better understand how to measure progress. We can't just say "oh well, I want to be here, and not, so I have not progressed. Often times, we have progressed and just don&'t realize how far we have come. Here's a quick look at some of the ways to measure progress in recovery:

  • A day sober is progress.
  • Another relationship repaired is progress.
  • Another trigger faced, coped with, and overcome without relapse is progress.
  • Taking medications as prescribed without delay or stray is progress.
  • A day without cravings is progress.
  • Sometimes a good night’s sleep is progress.
  • Feeling better physically is progress.
  • Stable housing in a sober environment is progress.
  • Regular income from a steady job is progress.
  • A daily routine is progress.
  • Setting realistic, achievable goals that you will stick to is progress.
  • Being treated with respect from others is progress.
  • Being honest and not breaking the law is progress.
  • Providing support to someone else in need is progress.

See how so many of the things that you are likely already doing everyday signify progress in recover? We often overlook the progress that we have made and it is easy from an insider standpoint to feel as if we have not done enough, have not come far enough or are not good enough yet. In fact, it is good to continue to strive for perfection, but we can’t diss ourselves for not being perfect today.

In fact, with all of the progress we make on a regular basis, we are likely to also slip once in a while and go a few steps backward. Falling back, and picking up the pieces to progress once again is another major sign of progress in recovery. You may not think so when you’re dealing with the repercussions of being days behind or of having not achieved the goal you set out to achieve in the exact timeframe that you wanted it completed in, but the truth is--you are progressing in your healing and recovery from addiction--each day is progress.




Ways to Measure Progress

If you're feeling like you simply aren't progressing the way you would like, consider the following ways to measure your progress:

  • Start tracking your feelings in a journal. A few months from now you can go back, read about how you were feeling, and what skills you used to cope--have you progressed? Most likely you have progressed much further than you realized.
  • Pocket Rehab. Your own, free, personal journal to track your recovery. Pocket Rehab allows you to simply download and sign in to the app to immediately begin journaling. You can track daily feelings, check-in, and see how far you have come in your recovery journey.
  • Make a list of your accomplishments. And keep adding to it. In the early stages of recovery, your accomplishments may seem trivial--but they aren’t! Each tiny accomplishment, like making your bed or even just GETTING OUT OF BED, is a win. Applying for a job, getting a job, paying for your home, paying all of your bills on time--all of these are accomplishments that will come in due time with your recovery. Don’t let yourself fall short. Allow yourself to celebrate the small wins that work toward the bigger goals.
  • Track your activities. When you first started your recovery journey maybe you were weak. Now you are stronger than ever before. Keeping track of the activities you are participating in is a great way to see how far you have come. You may look back and realize that you couldn’t do these things before because you spent all of your money on drugs or alcohol. Now look at you!

When You Feel Like Giving Up

If you're feeling like the progress you have made so far is not enough, and you feel like giving up, consider this, "The worst days in recovery are still 100% better than the best days in relapse!" While you may feel challenged in recovery and you may face daily struggles to remain sober, think of all the heartache and pain you face if you relapse. Think of what you will have to go through again to get to where you are now. Maybe you have 10 days in recovery--that’s 10 days you will have to go through all over again if you relapse. Maybe you have 100 or 1000 days in recovery--No matter what milestone you're at in recovery, you certainly don't want to throw away 100 or 1000 days of your life and start over, do you? Recovery is different for each individual. Some will face the bull head-on and just go for it. Others will have moments of relapse and sadness and guilt followed by moments of power and strength. If you’re facing a moment of pain in which you may relapse, reach out for support on Pocket Rehab. The app provides immediate Lifeline support to those in need. There are thousands of members in the Pocket Rehab community that have been through struggles like yours and who are ready to help you feel accomplished in your recovery.

It's Progress, Not Perfection

Every day, every second, every time you think about your progress in recovery, be sure to remind yourself that its progress, not perfection. You can continue to progress your way through the difficult times and the not so difficult times--and each and every day that you remain sober, you are one day closer to perfection.


Don't let today be the day that you mistake your recovery for a lack of progress. To get to where you are today, you fought hard, you worked hard, and you have achieved great things. Keep going!

Category: Pocket Rehab
Tags: progress, recovery, goals, goal setting, milestones, progressing, recovery progress, healing, addiction recovery, mindset