Regardless of how much time you have in recovery, whether it’s one day or 10 years, it can be all too easy for outside issues to threaten your sobriety, without you even knowing it.

What Are “Outside Issues”?

As recovering addicts and alcoholics, we can easily let outside issues come between us and our sobriety. “Outside issues” is a vague term, but essentially it can refer to anything that we place our dependence on outside of our higher power and our program. This can be anything from gambling to relationships to shopping, even to compulsive exercising. When left unchecked, these issues can become of paramount importance in our lives, and can stand in the way of true dependence on our higher power. Once we have surrendered ourselves to sobriety from drugs and alcohol, it is critical that we use the tools available to us and work a program of recovery, or we will inevitably seek out a solution somewhere else. When that solution isn’t spiritual in nature, we will almost always return to that which we know best- drugs or alcohol. Those of us in recovery have seen this happen firsthand- what starts as a casual gambling habit or fitness goal eventually becomes an obsession, and like all human power, eventually fails- leading right into a relapse.

What to Do About Them

This is not to say that any of these things are bad, if utilized or enjoyed in moderation. The key is, to simply maintain awareness of your habits, and where your focus lies. If you find yourself skipping meetings, putting off step work, or lying to your sponsor in order to protect and continue a certain behavior, it’s a good indicator that your reliance on it is becoming dangerously high. It may be worth taking an honest look at it with your sponsor, and being willing to shift your priorities back into place. For some, it may be the case that certain issues cannot be enjoyed in moderation, and for the sake of your sobriety and recovery, you may not be able to take part. Those who achieve and enjoy long-term sobriety are those willing to go to any lengths to remain sober, and remaining vigilant about possible distractions or “risk factors” is important.

Another Interpretation

Further, “outside issues” can also refer to mental or emotional disorders outside the spectrum of addiction, such as PTSD, depression, eating disorders, or codependency. These issues have often contributed in the past to drug and alcohol use as a means of coping. While the addiction is now a primary issue, it is important to address these other issues as well in order to live happily in recovery. Depending on the severity, solutions for this could range from simply being honest with your sponsor and network about them, or outside help may be warranted from professional therapists or doctors. This is something that is only up to you to decide what is needed, and when in doubt, talking to your doctor is always a good way to go. Only you can decide for yourself what you are comfortable with and what you may need in terms of treatment. The important thing is, not to let legitimate mental issues go unchecked, which could threaten the recovery you have worked so hard for.

Maintain Your Awareness

Whether they are deep-seated issues, or new sources of dependence and distraction, it is important to maintain your awareness and not let these outside issues interfere with your program or dependence on a higher power. The best way to stay on top of this is by honest and open communication with your sponsor and doctor (if needed), and by being willing to do whatever is necessary to keep your priorities in the right place.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t wait another minute- call 1-800-203-2024, for your free confidential assessment today.