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4 Ways Perfectionism Makes Addiction Recovery Harder

Perfectionists are people who hold themselves and other to unrealistic standards and become angry or disappointed when those standards aren’t met. The constant feelings of failure and disappointment create anxiety and depression, which some people manage with drinking or drugs. Not only can perfectionism lead to addiction, it also makes it harder to recover. Perfectionism can impede recovery in a number of ways.

Perfectionists can find it hard to admit a problem.

For a perfectionist, admitting a problem is like admitting you’re a failure. Perfectionists have a definite idea of how things should be, especially how they should be, and accepting the less-than-perfect reality can be difficult and painful. They may believe asking for help would ruin an image they’ve worked hard to create.

Perfectionists have a hard time asking for help.

Asking for help is admitting there is something you can’t do alone. For most people, needing help is just an obvious fact of life. No one really does anything alone. For a perfectionist, though, asking for help is like admitting weakness. Even worse, it means depending on people who don’t share your same high standards. Perfectionists are often very critical. They apply unreasonably high standards to other people’s behavior as well as their own. They may have trouble taking guidance from people who seem a bit flawed.

Perfectionism makes you less resilient.

This is also one reason perfectionists are more prone to addiction in the first place. Failure is discouraging and anything that isn’t a complete success is failure to a perfectionist. Resilience depends on believing that failures are temporary and improvement is possible. If you can find something positive in every failure, it can encourage you try again. If failure only proves that you are a failure, you are less likely to try difficult things, and you certainly won’t be very persistent.  

Recovery is an imperfect process.

There are no guarantees in recovery. 12-step programs work brilliantly for some people and not at all for others. Some people do well on medication assisted therapy while others hate it. You can do everything “right” and still relapse. That is a difficult proposition for a perfectionist. Success in recovery might require several tries. It might require going to meetings and listening to people who don’t always know what they’re talking about. It certainly requires the humility to admit what you’ve been doing hasn’t worked. All of these things are difficult for perfectionists.

Nobody’s perfect. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.