Can Over-Confidence Affect A Person’s Recovery?

relaxed man lying in grass

Imagine this: You’ve been in recovery for about a month, and you’re feeling great. You’ve been working hard in individual and group therapy, and you finally feel as though your life is back on track. You think to yourself, “Finally, everything is just as it should be. I’m on TOP of the world!” Recovery consists of highs and lows – much like life – and when things are going well, it can be an amazing feeling. While you should embrace and appreciate these moments, you don’t want to allow yourself to feel invincible. Over-confidence can be just as much as predictor of relapse as feelings of helplessness can; just because everything seems to be going right, doesn’t mean your work in recovery is over.

A 2016 study published in Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Policy, involved interviews of 36 participants regarding their history of drug use and rehabilitation, their self-evaluation of addiction, their motivations to abstain, their plans for the future and their attitudes towards rehabilitation. The researchers found that over-confident participants under-estimated their levels of addiction, over-estimated their self-control, and held external motivations and attributions. What does this mean for you? See if you can recognize these statements:


  • I’m cured!”
  • “One drink should be fine, I’ve made it this far and have managed to stay in recovery.”
  • “I can leave anytime I want, so one hit shouldn’t be a problem.”
  • “Everything is going so well! I need to celebrate. One small glass won’t hurt.”
  • “I didn’t have that much of a problem to begin with, so clearly I can stop whenever I want.”


These are common signs of someone who is at high-risk for relapse, because they believe they can return to old addictive behaviors and then retreat back to their stance in recovery. Over-confidence comes with the belief that a person’s problems really aren’t “that bad”, that they can quit at any time, and that a limited amount of the substance won’t be detrimental to their recovery. Although relapse shouldn’t be considered a “failure” or a “weakness” in recovery, it does show that something in your program needs to be adjusted or reinstated.

The next time you’re feeling on top of the world, speak with a leader from your treatment program. Remind yourself that you must still work towards your recovery.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.



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