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New Year's Resolutions for People in Addiction Recovery

New Year's Resolutions…every year, the clock strikes midnight, and a new horizon of possibilities lay before us! Many people start the new year by making a list of resolutions.

But what if you are in recovery, for a variety of different reasons, including drug or alcohol addiction, eating disorders, or mental health issues? How do New Year’s Resolutions differ for those in addiction recovery?


Cambridge dictionary defines New Year’s Resolutions as “a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.”

We have grand thoughts that THIS is going to be the year! The year we “insert same resolution we have made for the last 5, 10, 15, 20+ years”, all across the spectrum, including:

  • Lose weight / new body
  • Exercise more
  • Go back to school
  • Learn a new skill / take a class / pick up a new hobby
  • Get a new job that appreciates you
  • Eat healthier
  • Save more money
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Stop (drinking, smoking, overeating, recreational drugs, cheating on your spouse, working so much)
  • Get organized

The truth is, we may start strong and optimistic, but according to, only 9% of people who make New Year’s resolutions feel they are successful in actually keeping them.

For those in recovery, who are already taking things day by day, and sometimes minute by minute, adding a new “have to” with a new self-commitment can often tip the scales toward relapse and derail the progress that has been made in recovery.

If adding one more thing to your plate feels overwhelming, know that it is ok to pass on any resolutions this year.

Oftentimes, we want to do things perfectly, and that can trigger all or nothing thinking and keep things black and white with no wiggle room for the gray area.
Or instead of one of the typical resolutions that most people make, if you are in recovery, perhaps focusing on improving yourself little by little is just the type of “resolution” that you need.

Eating Disorder Recovery

For those with eating disorders, try removing the “celebrity fitness trainers” who push a new diet or workout supplement or training routine every few months to ensure they keep the money rolling in. Unfollow those friends or family members who sell diet products, like shakes and diet plans for their profit, or have jumped on the latest fad diet trend, or can only talk about their great (short-term) results, which can be very triggering. Make sure all items on your social media feed are body-positive and against restrictive eating.

Instead of focusing on weight loss and doing one of the “30-day challenges” that are posted all over the internet, start with something so small that you are guaranteed to accomplish it, and thus succeed. Maybe add one or two servings of fruits or vegetables to your diet, or a short morning walk to start your day.

Drug or Alcohol Recovery

For those in alcohol or drug recovery, perhaps your resolution can be to improve your mental health and make a commitment to clear out your social media accounts, by unfollowing any accounts that might trigger your sobriety. This could include removing social media influencers and websites who do not support and reflect the new environment you wish to create for yourself, or even friends or family members that highlight partying and a lifestyle you are trying to abstain from being a part of. Also, go through your email account and unsubscribe from any companies you no longer wish to hear from that promote drinking or partying advertisements.

Tips for creating lasting resolutions, that do not trigger perfection:

SMART is an acronym used to help create specific goals for lasting success.

  • SPECIFIC: Choose a precise outcome.
  • MEASURABLE: Find a way to measure your progress.
  • ACTION-ORIENTED: Decide what specific steps you will take to reach your goal.
  • REALISTIC: Make sure your goal is achievable given the resources at your disposal.
  • TIMELY: Choose a deadline for completion or a daily, monthly, or weekly repeating timeframe for the task.

Keeping the resolutions and goals small AND obtainable helps ensure that you will not become overwhelmed by the change, and can incorporate it into your everyday habits and routines.

Instead of external goals, continue to focus on your well-being and physical and mental health.

Healthy Pursuits

Instead of the typical New Year’s resolutions, focus on exploring ways that can help you feel better, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here are some ideas of healthy pursuits that can help you maintain a positive mindset and invigorate your body and well-being at the same time:

Running, jogging, walking routines - these types of activities get your heart rate up and increase your cardiovascular health, and overall health, and can start with just a few minutes a day and build from there.

Meditating - taking some time to close your eyes, and focus on your breath, either with a guided meditation as you are learning or with a mantra that you can repeat inside your head, can bring a grounding and internal peace to your day.

Journaling - starting with a daily prompt or writing out what you appreciate about your day and the things you are grateful for can help you feel more connected to the world around you.

Tapping - also known as EFT Tapping (emotional freedom technique), tapping is an alternative treatment option for physical pain and emotional distress. Like meditation, a session can be guided or completed on your own and is another example of quick and easy ways to help self moderate your pain and emotions.

Art - painting, drawing, coloring with crayons, origami, and other artistic pursuits help you express your emotions in physical form and can help release emotions that are tied up inside.

Puzzles and games - help keep your mind sharp while also entertaining. Crossword puzzles, putting together physical puzzle pieces, sudoku, word search, memory games are all examples of puzzles and games to explore.

Perform small acts of kindness - Lending someone a hand, like holding open the door or offering to pay for their items, can make you both feel amazing.
Scheduling time with friends and family, and making that a priority to stay connected and involved with those who love and support you.

Seek a higher power - This may not mean seeking a new religion, it can be as simple as practicing prayer, meditation, or a nature walk. It could be more streamlined such as finding a new church or group that brings you a peaceful feeling.

There are a lot of ways to begin the New Year and explore healthy ways to stay sober while trying new things like mediation or journaling, seeking out ways to connect with others through small acts of kindness and scheduling time with those close to you. These activities will help make the new goals in your life more sustainable and you’ll be better able to keep those small goals throughout the entire year!

If you are ready to ask for help on your road to recovery, Jackson House Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers is available with all the information to get you started on the path of sobriety.

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