By: Marilyn Davis


Other People Had a Goal in 1988


In 1988, my employer sent me to drug and alcohol treatment and was adamant that I receive help. During the intervention, they all had a goal – get me to agree to treatment. 

They were also encouraging me to make every effort to be successful. I think it was this combination of boundaries on my behaviors while still demonstrating faith that I had the resolve, discipline, and desire to receive the help that allowed this intervention to work.


Finding my First Goal in Recovery


If my boss at Brenau University were the only one setting a goal, it probably would not have worked. My primary counselor told us on the first day, “If you want recovery, make it your goal.” 

She then cautioned us that this couldn’t just be a goal established by her, a sponsor, family or other people involved in our lives, it had to be our goal. 

I could state that I wanted recovery, but didn’t think to make it a goal. But by making it a goal, I was able to stay in treatment.

Build on whatever incentive you have, make significant changes in your thoughts, behaviors, and learn to process your feelings, because, with each of these actions, you get closer to your goal of long-term recovery. Click To Tweet


Getting There the Old-fashioned Way


Goals and sub-goals help us get what we want in life. Yes, I had other dreams and aspirations before my addiction took them away. Many of these improved my life, whether it was education, financial security, career, or better relationships with family and friends, those I could see as a goal.

With some of them, I mapped out specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-targeted actions, or S.M.A.R.T goals first mentioned in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. 

However, it was not until I made recovery a goal in 1988, did I start to attach the principles of S.M.A.R.T.

We carry out recovery as a goal, much like any other. Want a new car or house and cannot merely write a check or debit your account? Then you know that you will have to save money to get it. 

Want a better opportunity for a lucrative job? Then you know that you need either a college degree or specialized training to help this goal.


from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis


Applying S.M.A.R.T. To My Recovery


All of these goals take incremental actions to define and bring about your stated goal.

My first goal for recovery was, “Don’t Use” I then set up the sub-goals for accomplishing that goal each day:

  1. Specific: Remain abstinent
  2. Measurable: Employer mandated drug screen results
  3. Achievable: Yes, do not use
  4. Realistic: Yes, if I do not use
  5. Time-targeted: I’ll be drug screened weekly


Encouraging Ourselves


I had very clear expectations of myself: Do not use. I would also enjoy continued employment with this goal satisfied, so remaining abstinent facilitated other positive outcomes in my life, such as financial independence and better buying power as I called it.

I knew that viewing this goal in a semi-frivolous way, much like the resolutions people create on New Year’s Day, would not work. Habits and addictions take years to form, and the early stages of change are the times that most people relapse.

By making my goal of abstinence time-specific and then beginning to extend the time, I was able to realize a month in recovery, then another, and finally a year. 

It was at this point that I started measuring and adjusting my recovery goal to include internal reasons and not just the obvious benefits of keeping my job. 


The Emotional Side of Goal Setting


The emotional side of accomplishing goals is personal. Some people process on the positive side and view a four-year commitment to getting a degree as a way to make sure they could get a better job at the end of their four-year education.

Other people belabor the time they have to spend just getting ready to get a job. Positive and negative emotions and attitudes motivate or drive actions. 

For some people, the bottom and the associated feelings of low self-worth, guilt, and shame prompt a wish to change for the better and to receive better outcomes.

For others, the bottom gives them a sense of relief; they have been caught, and change is going to produce different and better outcomes.

It does not matter which side of the coin you are on if changing for the better is your goal.

How Can You Get Help for Your Recovery Goals?


Each person finds their method for reaching their goal of recovery. However, having knowledgeable, supportive people help direct us to our goal of recovery is usually more productive and less time-consuming than going it alone. Click To Tweet

There are more approaches to helping people than when I got into recovery almost 32 years ago. There is 12 Step based, faith-based, and secular approaches to help people recover from substance abuse. These approaches work for those people who adhere to the fundamental philosophy for each type of Recovery Supportive meeting.

When you find a Supportive Recovery meeting that matches your beliefs about recovery, you will get advice, support, and friendships. These, in turn, will help you stay focused on your goal of recovery.


What are Your Recovery Goals for 2020? 


“Goals are the road maps that guide you to your destination. Cultivate the habit of setting clearly-defined written goals; they are the road maps that guide you to your destination.” ― Roy T. BennettThe Light in the Heart

“…We can help write that story by setting a goal. Please write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down – as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose.”― Melody Beattie – The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations on Codependency

Another way to stay focused on your goals is to read meditation books that reinforce your desire to achieve long-term recovery. 


What Helps You Reach your Recovery Goals? 



I know that you have ways that keep you focused as well. Let me know in a comment what your recovery goals are and how you’re doing with them. 

They might be something I need to add to mine. Thanks.



Writing, and recovery heals the heart.






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6 thoughts on “Is Long-term Recovery Your Goal?

  1. I found this an inspiring post, especially as I seek to put First Things First. This, for me, means starting each day “dialing into” that frequency where there is no static. In that quiet connection, I can locate “the impossibles” God has done, and I am strengthened to trust God to do the impossible again. My SMART is:

    S = Surrendering to God’s Power
    M = Miracles happen
    A = Asking for God’s guidance
    R = Relationship for hearing God’s quiet voice
    T = Trusting God

  2. Marilyn, I love your work! There are so many people who don’t realize just how intentional recovery is and should be! While I have been sober for a number of years, I cannot truly say that I was in recovery until I started working at my own well-being and that of those around me. It wasn’t until I realized that merely turning my back on alcohol was not enough. When we are in danger, we may temporarily hide ourselves or shield ourselves, but to truly be out of danger we must get out of the dangerous environment, we must move in a new direction, away from what imperils us.

    1. Hi, Larry. Thank you for the kind words, and for reinforcing that recovery is so much more than just giving up the substances. I hope you’ll be a frequent visitor to the site.

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