Making Bad Decisions in Sobriety: Learn and Move on

There is sometimes a misconception in sobriety that once you get sober you will be struck lily white and never screw up anything again in your life. I’m not 100% sure where this comes from because if you listen to just about any speaker at any meeting, they will talk about the mistakes that they’ve made in recovery. They will address the fact that they have made bad decisions in sobriety and on a daily basis they try not to repeat these mistakes. Yet, many people in recovery believe that this is not okay for them. They think that they have to do everything correct or they will surely drink or use again when nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that just because you are no longer using drugs or drinking and you have embarked on a spiritual way of life, does not mean that you have transcended the human experience. And to be human is to err. To be a human being means that you are going to screw up from time to time, you will sometimes hurt the people around you, and you will most certainly make bad decisions in sobriety.

This is not an excuse to go out and do whatever you want but it is important to understand this so that when you do make bad decisions in sobriety you are not taken back by them, or they don’t effect you so greatly that you go out and drink over them. The latter is very possible because as alcoholics and addicts, we are tremendously hard on ourselves. We are the first to break out the hammer and hit ourselves over the head with it and we are the last to put the hammer down, so when we make a bad decision and then we beret ourselves for it, we run the risk of going out due to our self-imposed guilt.

learn from your mistakes

This, however, does not need to be the case because the most important thing to do when you make bad decisions in sobriety is to try to learn from them and move on. There is no need to sit around replaying the event, thinking about how it could have been different, and counting the ways in which you’re a loser because you screwed something up. No, just learn from your mistake and move on.

This sentiment is echoed in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous where in the nightly inventory it tells you to be weary of falling into morbid self-reflection. It says that doing this diminishes our ability to be helpful to others because we are stuck in self-pity and pride. It reminds us that we are human and we are going to make missteps and wrong choices but that when this occurs, we only need to take an objective look at the situation, try to do better next time, and keep it moving.

To help clarify what this looks like, let’s take a look at an example. Let’s say you decide to get back together with your girlfriend who you’ve had a toxic relationship with for the past few years. Let’s say the two of you fought all of the time and have broken up a number of times, but you keep going back for more. This could very well be classified as a bad decision and some people believe that doing this means that the person will inevitably drink, but that isn’t necessarily the total truth.

There are times when making the same mistake over and over again, when you know that you shouldn’t, can result in your going back out, but in a case like this, as long as you are trying to learn from your mistake and move onto something better, you should be fine. When it comes to relationships, we all make bad decisions and we all repeatedly make bad decisions, but with each bad choice, we learn and when we have the ability to change, we will.

That is important to keep in mind as well—we cannot change until we change. Many times it isn’t even the bad decision that brings us pain, it is the fact that we think we should be acting differently or we expect ourselves to be somewhere we are not. We sometimes overestimate our ability to handle situations or to make the right choice and when we find that we are incapable of doing so, we beat ourselves up. We revisit it time and time again in our minds, calling ourselves weak or a failure, when the reality is that we were just incapable of doing better at that moment in time. This is a tough lesson to learn, that we will not always get things right and sometimes we are just not in a position to do better, but understanding this can save you from a lot of unneeded pain.

So if you’ve just made some bad decisions in sobriety and you think your life and sobriety are over, they aren’t. There is nothing that you cannot bounce back from, and the fact that you are now sober is a testament to that. If a person can go from being hopelessly addicted to drugs to living a productive life as a sober member of society then anything is possible and no misstep is too large to come back from.

Seeking Treatment For Addiction or Alcoholism

If you are one of the millions of people caught in the grasp of addiction or alcoholism and you no longer want to live under its constant tyranny, then call the professionals at Dream Center for Recovery today, at 1-877-978-3148. Our trained staff is well equipped to help you finally overcome your addiction and start a new way of life. We understand how difficult making the decision to get sober can be and many of our trained staff members experienced exactly what you are currently going through. So give up trying to fight this thing alone and give us a call today. We are standing by to help in any way we possibly can.