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SMART Goals for Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is hard—hard to deal with, and even harder to achieve. Staying motivated and taking steps to complete recovery can be very hard, which is why it’s crucial to plan out your goals. 

Planning by using the SMART method helps you stay motivated and take specific steps to achieve these goals. People who set SMART goals for addiction recovery more often achieve their goals.

SMART goals aren’t just for recovery; people use them in everything from business to education because it’s a proven method that helps you achieve them.

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART goals are goals that follow a particular method for planning and organizing realistic expectations. By following the tenets below, you can create goals that are easier to follow than generic hopes like “I will lose weight this year” or “I am going to eat better.”

SMART goals decrease procrastination and provide actionable steps on your road to recovery. It helps you by offering plans with clear paths and positive results.

You can also use SMART goals for much more than just addiction recovery; they can help you with specific parts of your life, from mending relationships and building new ones to improving your mental health. Setting SMART goals for other aspects of your life can help you get back on track.


When setting a goal, you don’t want it to be generic, like, “I’ll spend more time with my family” or “I’m never going to relapse.” Consider making goals with quantifiable progress you can measure.

Rather than setting such general goals, set specific ones like calling your mom once a week or spending so many hours a week with your kids. That way, you can track your steps as you work toward completing your goals with measurable results.

For addiction recovery, this could mean, “I’ll find a job that offers more than 15 hours a week within three months.” Or “I’m going to be clean for the next 30 days.” These goals are specific, so know exactly what you need to do to achieve them.


Your goals should have clear limits and measurable results. This means adding a number to your plan that makes it more straightforward. Take the goal “I’ll lose weight” and compare it to the goal “I’ll lose 60 lbs in the next year.”

Measuring goals is how you track progress toward your ultimate goal overall, and it can help you build a plan for that goal with smaller, measurable goals along the way.


You want to set goals that you can achieve. For example, the goal of “Solving world hunger” isn’t achievable by any individual. Instead, you should select a goal for yourself: "Donate $50 a month to hunger charities.” That goal is achievable by the individual. 

For recovery, this often comes into play with relationships. Those working through recovery often find relationships have taken a back seat to their addiction. Mending these broken relationships can be difficult, and isn’t solely based on the effort of the individual in recovery. Those on the receiving end of a neglected relationship may take more time to accept the individual back into their life, which means a goal of mending a broken relationship may not be as achievable in its simplest form.

Instead, create actionable steps to work toward mending the relationship. Set smaller goals to contact your loved one with acceptance and apologies. As part of the healing process, these smaller goals can work toward the larger goal of mending your relationship.


Goals shouldn’t just be achievable, but realistic. Losing 300 lbs in one year is a dream. Losing 60 lbs in one year is realistic. If you set unrealistic goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure and probable relapse. 

Set goals at an even pace that shows progress while maintaining achievability. By accomplishing small goals, you’ll eventually reach the bigger ones with slow and steady progress.

Also, expect setbacks and have a realistic plan to help you get back on track if you slip. If your goal is completely ruined because you missed one goal, the goal wasn’t created with a realistic expectation. 


Your goals should have a time limit. If you’re on the road to recovery, set time limits like “I’ll visit community meetings once a week” or “I won’t use substances for the next three days.” Going by the losing weight example, if you want to lose 60 lbs in a year, you should lose 5 lbs every month.

These smaller time limits are essential additions to the bigger ones, as they help motivate you and avoid procrastination, particularly in the beginning when recovery is the hardest. 

How to Stay Motivated Towards Your Goals

There’s more to addiction recovery than just reducing usage. It’s about changing your life to promote wellness and healthy choices. It’s about eating, exercising, improving relationships, and becoming financially stable to create a life without addiction.

SMART goals can be used in all aspects of recovery from your social life to your mental well-being. They can help instill lasting principles that help guide you toward each new goal with fewer temptations of relapse.

SMART Goal Examples

Reasonable SMART goals follow the tenets above, so here are some examples:

  • I’ll call and update my mother on my treatment every week.
  • I’ll spend two hours a week with my children.
  • I’ll reduce my usage by 20% in the next month.
  • I’ll get 100% of my assignments in on time.
  • I’ll save $50 every week in a savings account.
  • I’ll visit the AA meeting every week.
  • I’ll take a short walk three times a week.

These goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. They’re actionable and have clear time frames, which help reduce procrastination. Feel free to take these goals for yourself, and customize them to your heart’s content. 

Call for Help

However good you are about sticking to your goals and being committed to recovery, you will have weak moments. You’ll want to use substances again, drink, or cave to whatever addiction has a grip on your life.

Getting help during these weak moments is nothing to be ashamed of, and if you need assistance, give our specialists at Jackson House a call. They can help you stay committed to your goals and help you create new plans no matter your situation.

Recovery is a process, and so are your goals. Jackson House can offer the structure and the guidance for any individual needing the resources for recovery.

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