By: Marilyn L. Davis


“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.” ― Ben Carson,   Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story 


Barriers and Obstacles Within Us


We create barriers and obstacles within us with our self-defeating attitudes, actions, and behaviors that prevent us from recovering. We come into recovery with these and often continue to use them in our early recovery. But it’s not just early recovery. These barriers and obstacles may also resurface if we become complacent in our recovery or start reverting to old patterns.

We’ve stated that we want to recover, but still not take advantage of the opportunity. Some of our reasons for not taking advantage are:

  • We believe we know what to do to recover.
  • It’s been difficult in the past.
  • Too many people tell us what to do.
  • We feel shame when we discuss personal aspects with strangers. 

The reality is that each of those is the personal obstacles and barriers that people create and don’t recover. I think that Stephan Labossiere sums it up well, “Many times, we are our worst enemy. If we could learn to conquer ourselves, then we will have a much easier time overcoming the obstacles that are in front of us.” 


Negative Attitudes Create Barriers and Obstacles 


These personal obstacles often stem from negative attitudes, about ourselves, our lives, and our recovery. What are some negative attitudes about recovery? 

  1. People should not expect us to change so many aspects of ourselves. 
  2. No one should not expect us to change so quickly.
  3. We see progress; why isn’t that enough? 
  4. Those other people at meetings are different from us.
  5. Why can’t we keep your old friends and hang out with them? 
  6. Some events in addiction were fun; why don’t people understand that? 
  7. Our life “was not so bad.”
  8. There are personal reasons that we’re unwilling and close-minded. 
  9. Doing all that inner work is discouraging.
  10. When we look at ourselves, it’s depressing. 
  11. All this inner work creates stress.

Each of these positions can prove harmful to our recovery. We may also realize that we have to quit lying, stop embellishing the facts, or minimizing our shortcomings. When we understand that our self-defeating behaviors are not working, we can get angry and start arguing that no one understands us. We have always been this way, and changing old attitudes, actions, and feelings about situations are hard. 

Before we get to this point, though, we’ve had negative thoughts.

Before any action is the thought, and the idea is part of our attitude. When we combine a negative attitude with indifferent feelings, this combination creates barriers and obstacles to our recovery. Click To Tweet


Common Barriers and Obstacles: Someone Overcame Them


The good news is that none of the barriers and obstacles above is new. Many of us experienced them in both our early recovery and when we got complacent. These internal barriers and obstacles are widespread and predictable. When we find ourselves in any of these predictable positions, realize that these thoughts, attitudes, and feelings happen to everyone at some point in their recovery. 

You do not have to have all the answers to your problems. A common statistic is that 1 in 10 Americans are in recovery. That equates to 23 million people who have found solutions and, in many cases, are willing to share their suggestions and directions with the rest of us. 


Where Can I Find Solutions to my Barriers and Obstacles? 


For any other problem, we typically Google our search. For recovery, it’s no different. We can search for:

  • Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Plus communities that offer recovery-related posts
  • Information on how to recover
  • Recovery Support Meetings in our area
  • Subscribe to an Addiction and Recovery Blog
  • Therapists that specialize in addiction, codependency, or trauma

Part of the problem is that most of us are hesitant to discuss our lives with strangers. However, this reluctance to discuss our experiences with others is just another internal barrier that can prevent us from getting better. 

If we think about how most of us feel if we’re helpful to someone, we get out of our ego and realize that those people helping us when we ask a question, aren’t better than us, or we’re less than them; they are just like us and passing on what they know.

When you make changes in your life, it’s your turn to help someone else in overcoming their barriers and obstacles to recovery.



Writing, and recovery heals the heart.


What barriers or obstacles did you overcome? Do you have simple solutions for people wanting to recover?

Then there’s someone out there who needs your ideas. Consider a guest post for From Addict 2 Advocate. 

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