You may not think perfectionism is a trait an addict would have, but it is not uncommon. People who have unusually high expectations of themselves before their struggle with addiction may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with these feelings. As their life begins to spiral out of control because of drug or alcohol use, they may still be fighting those feelings even if it appears they have given up.
Perfectionism is when someone strives for what she sees as a flawless or perfect standard, even if it is seemingly unattainable. People with this personality trait are often overly critical of themselves and others, and may obsess over what people think of them. They do not react well when things do not go their way or if they feel as if they have failed. If you need alcohol or drug rehab in Raleigh NC, please call Legacy Freedom for quality help.
Can Perfectionism Be a Positive Trait?
People who are perfectionists don’t always struggle with the negative aspects of this personality trait. There can be an upside to having high standards. Perfectionists often work harder and are successful in the things they care about. Some are perfectionists in one area of life, such as their career, but have normal standards in other aspects of their lives.
In work situations, they tend to expect the best outcome and will do what it takes to make that happen. They can be good leaders because they can draw out the best in others. On the other hand, if they are too demanding, they can make employees feel too overworked and underappreciated.
There is a fine balance between the positive and negative aspects of being a perfectionist. If it leads to better outcomes and experiences, it can be a positive trait. If it causes unnecessary worry and anxiety, and tasks become unbearable, it can be a negative trait.
Perfectionism and Addiction
If someone lives in a constant state of worry and anxiety because of their need to be perfect, it can lead to frustration, shame, guilt and disappointment. These feelings of failure can cause someone to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. If someone worries obsessively, having a drink can help calm them down. If someone has a project to finish and feels she needs to work around the clock to complete it, she may turn to a stimulant such as cocaine to help her stay awake.
Using drugs or alcohol to cope with the pressures they put on themselves can lead to an addiction problem. Although it seems like someone who is a perfectionist would avoid using a substance, it is common. The same perfectionist tendencies they hold in other areas of their lives can lead them into addiction because they do not want to admit they have a problem.
Many students in high pressure academic environments turn to stimulants such as drugs like Ritalin, which are meant to help attention deficit disorders (ADD), in order to stay awake and focus so they can study for exams.
Perfectionism in Recovery
In some cases, people begin to develop perfectionist traits while going through drug rehab in Raleigh NC, even though they didn’t have them before. It can be explained by the idea that someone may feel as if she has wasted years of her life dealing with addiction and feels she has to make up for lost time. This can lead her to have unrealistic expectations about what she should and can do in her new sober life. It can make recovery more difficult as any kind of setback, such as a relapse, could be seen as a major failure rather than a part of the recovery process.
Some may even use it a form of self-sabotage. She may be consciously or unconsciously using the high expectations she has as a reason to relapse. She may set personal goals that are unattainable, knowing that she won’t be able to achieve them, and then use it as an excuse to return to drinking or using drugs.
Having an “all or nothing” approach to recovery is not healthy. Everyone makes mistakes and has setbacks, but it does not mean that staying sober isn’t possible. These demands of oneself are dangerous because they are not realistic. A perfectionist has a low tolerance for forgiveness, which is something someone in recovery has to earn to do in order to let go of guilt and past mistakes.
How to Cope
One of the traits a perfectionist lacks is the ability to feel grateful. Being grateful means appreciating what you have and not wishing that it could be better, or wanting more. Perfectionists always want more and think that what they have achieved isn’t good enough. Even when they get what they think they want, it often still isn’t good enough. It’s a frustrating, negative cycle. That feeling of not being good enough or not being happy with what one has will always cause disappointment.
When someone is in recovery, she needs to appreciate each day for what it is, and be happy with the good things she has in her life. It does not mean she shouldn’t strive to be better. Everyone should work towards becoming the person they want to be. But the goals should be realistic and attainable, and they should take into account some times are going to be great, and some mistakes will be made. Being able to accept the bad with the good can help balance the positive and negative aspects of being a perfectionist.
Setting realistic expectations can help a perfectionist in recovery still feel in control of the things she desires, but gives her the ability to actually reach those goals.
When You Need Affordable Drug Rehab in Raleigh NC, Legacy Is the Best Choice!
No one is perfect. Striving to be something that is unrealistic can make you unable to cope. If you’re turning to drugs or alcohol to deal with your need to make everything perfect, give us a call at Legacy Freedom Treatment Center. We are here to help you learn new ways to manage. Each patient receives individual treatment plans because we know that each situation is different. We have flexible options for drug rehab in Raleigh NC that allows you to continue to work or go to school while you seek help. Call our Raleigh office today to speak with an admissions counselor and get on the path to a better life.