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Don’t Compare Yourself to Others in Recovery

It’s natural to want reassurance that we’re on the right track. As social creatures, we usually look for that reassurance by comparing what we’re doing to what the people around us are doing. In some situations, this makes sense, like if everyone is running scared in one direction, we might want to do the same. In other situations, though, it can be counterproductive. Recovery is one such situation. Comparing yourself to others can tell you very little about how your own recovery is going.

First, everyone has a different addiction history–different drugs, different dosages, different lengths of time in active addiction. On top of that, people are different. No two people respond to drugs or treatment in the same way. No two people have the same life experiences or temperament, so the way they experience addiction and recovery will be different as well.

As a result, you might be superficially similar to someone else in recovery–maybe you are about the same age and used the same drug of choice–but that doesn’t indicate that your recovery will be in any way similar. You might get unnecessarily discouraged because the other person doesn’t seem to be suffering cravings as frequently or maybe she seems to be making friends more easily. None of that means anything. For one thing, you don’t actually know what she’s going through. She might be having really bad cravings and just hides it or maybe making friends was never her problem, but she’s not good at something else that comes easily to you.

Another danger of comparing is that you see someone who is clearly struggling more than you are in some way and feeling like at least you’re doing better than that. One trick people in active addiction often use is to make friends with other addicts, whose behavior is even worse. That way they can always minimize their own problems. “Well, maybe I did make a scene at Christmas dinner, but at least I didn’t get drunk and burn my house down like Bruce.” Comparison becomes a way of telling ourselves that whatever we are doing is not that bad.

In recovery, the object is not to do better than someone else–if you manage to get sober at all then you are automatically doing better than someone else. The object is to do what you need to do every day to stay sober. If you are being honest with yourself and checking the boxes, you don’t need validation by comparing yourself to others.

The only reason you need to be concerned about someone else’s recovery is to give her support. If you are comparing yourself to someone else, you are judging her and judging yourself, and neither is helpful. Letting go of comparisons allows you to stop judging and start supporting. It’s not a competition. If you can help someone else in recovery, you both win.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.