The Link Between Addiction and Perfectionism

a woman thinks about her addiction and perfectionism

Experts have found that there’s a pretty strong link between perfectionism and addiction – and it can be a dangerous duo. Perfectionism can lead individuals to self-medicate to alleviate the constant feelings of failure caused by impossibly high ideals and self-criticism.

It can also prevent someone from seeking treatment and/or cause a lack of confidence or motivation to do the hard work required of lasting sobriety.

Experts from Psychology Today describe the vicious cycle of perfectionism as such:

  • Set unreachable goals.
  • Fail to reach them.
  • Become depressed and lethargic.
  • Have less energy and a deep sense of failure.
  • Get lower self-esteem and high self-blame.

Here are a few of the many ways perfectionism can be sabotaging your recovery and overall well-being:

  • You expect more of yourself than others (for example, you don’t need help like other people with substance use disorders) and think you can play by different rules (you can handle just one drink, for instance).
  • You expect to get rehab right or do it perfectly the first time. Black-and-white thinking in addiction recovery will make it harder to bounce back from any slip-ups and/or you may be more likely to lose confidence to continue with the hard work.
  • You place unrealistic expectation on others, which can sabotage relationships and lead to isolation and loneliness – both slippery slopes into relapse.
  • You believe that you’re not lovable because of your addiction or ashamed of your shortcomings and past mistakes. Again, this isn’t the best mindset for healthy relationships and long-term healing.
  • You become inpatient with the recovery process, expecting immediate results, or losing confidence. Here’s another example of black-and-white or all-or-nothing thinking that can harm your recovery.
  • You are your own worst-critic and grapple with feelings of failure or inadequacy. In turn, you dwell on small mistakes and even mistrust success. Trusting the journey, bouncing back from mistakes and celebrating milestones are all key to lasting sobriety.

Professionals, Perfectionism and Addiction
It’s the propensity of many professionals to be perfectionists and we’re here to help ensure that it doesn’t get in the way of your lasting sobriety. At Providence Treatment, it’s our goal to provide professionals (and their families) with the tools and strategies needed for early recovery and when they return to the workplace. To learn more, call (866) 247-3307.

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