Taking Risks in Recovery

What are the PROs and CONS to taking risks in recovery? What’s the difference between a positive and a negative risk? We explore here, and invite your questions or comments at the end.

What is a risk?

By definition, “risk” is a situation in which someone or something is exposed to danger, harm, or loss. It can also be understood as a situation where a person does or doesn’t take an action, even if being aware of the possible negative consequences.

Active addicts expose themselves to risks by continuously using their substance of choice. They are often aware of their behavior and want to stop, but they cannot. So, what are the risks addicts face or need to take in recovery? Find out more here. At the end, we invite you to share your comments and ask questions.

Taking risks when using drugs

Being trapped in addiction can seem as a situation without escape. Addict’s brains can highjacked by the drug of choice, triggering an overflow of neurotransmitters, so a person’s behavior and reasoning change. The addictive personality is characterized with impaired judgement, impulsiveness, and bad decision making. Risky behaviors that addicts may get involved in, include:

  • damage the physical and mental health
  • drive under the influence
  • engage in criminal activities in order to obtain drugs
  • jeopardize the economic stability
  • harm interpersonal relationships
  • perform activities while intoxicated

Taking risks in early recovery

Likewise, the beginning of the recovery process can feel like a huge leap of faith. Addicts who knew what to expect in the past can be scared and insecure about future outcomes. Recovery is difficult at first. People need to change a lot, and by giving up alcohol or drug use can sometimes feel like losing their best friend.

There are often trust issues. A recovering addict needs to learn to trust the advice of therapists, medical doctors, psychologists, etc. Plus, if attending group sessions, they need to open up and trust other individuals who’ve become recently sober.

But, friendly reader, keep in mind that recovery is also about starting a new life. While it may be difficult to leave behind alcohol or drug using friends, which can cause feelings of loneliness… you are creating a new future! For addicts stepping into recovery is like stepping into the unknown. But, having faith that it will all turn out fine, trusting those who want to help and trusting yourself is a good start. So what do you risk, actually?

What do you risk in addiction recovery?

1. Living life without your chosen substance.

Living life without your drug of choice is not quite easy. Addicts rely on a chemical to help them cope with issues in their life. So, leaving addiction behind, going through withdrawal, facing emotions, dealing with shame…and the list goes on. It is scary and stressful, and is perceived as a risk in the addict’s eyes.

2. Leaving old friends.

By ending an addiction chapter in your life, recovering addicts need to make new friends, find new hobbies and build new contacts. In recovery, people need to focus on maintaining the positive relationships they have and making some new ones. In the end, having a supportive group of close family, friends and loved ones can change everything. Sometimes it is beneficial to work with a sobriety coach or sober companion to achieve your goals.

3. Asking for help and feeling powerless.

In the process of recovery, people learn that they don’t have to do anything on their own. Humility is a beautiful human trait, and none should be ashamed to ask for support and assistance. It may feel risky and shameful, but remember that there are always others to rely on.

4. Leaving the comfort zone.

Change is good. Whenever we step out of the comfort zone we grow.

Risks you should take in recovery

Here are some ideas that can take you over the borders of your self-perceived limitations and make you gain new experiences:

  • change your career or find another job
  • start a new romantic relationship or work on improving the one you are in
  • get a university degree or learn something new
  • meet new people and create new friendships
  • move to another city or another country
  • start a family
  • open your own business

Risks you shouldn’t take in recovery

Recovering addicts are advised not to make any major life-changes during the first year of recovery. However, there are some much needed changes in order to maintain one’s sobriety. People in addiction recovery should definitely stay away from taking action that might jeopardize their sobriety. Also, spending time with people who are drinking or using drugs can lead to temptation. This is one highly risky behavior. During recovery, try to avoid stressors and triggers as much as possible.

Got questions?

Have you accessed addiction treatment and begun the journey towards recovery? Try seeing opportunities instead of risks and accept the gifts that recovery is offering.

Finally, if you’d like to leave a comment or ask us a question, please post them in the section below. We’re working on replying all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly.


Reference Sources:

Dartmouth College: Future Directions in Preventing Relapse to Substance Abuse Among Clients With Severe Mental Illnesses

NIH: Drug Abuse and Addiction

NIH: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment

NIH: How Does Stress Lead to Risk of Alcohol Relapse?


Ivana JanevskaAUTHOR BIO: Ivana Janevska is passionate about helping match people in recovery with support and services they need. She is a staff writer at Addiction Blog and says, “Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solution. See what people choose not to see, out of fear or conformity. Then, pay it forward.”