10 Realistic Goals in Early Recovery

3 min
October 31, 2023

Embarking on the journey to recovery from addiction is a monumental step, and it’s important to approach it with a plan. Setting realistic goals is crucial to creating a framework that encourages progress and fosters long-term sobriety. While each individual’s path is unique, there are general goals that can serve as beneficial landmarks. Here are some insights on setting realistic goals in recovery and ten goals that you might consider.

The Importance of Realistic Goals

Goals act as a roadmap for your recovery journey. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), creating a personalized recovery plan with attainable goals is one of the crucial elements of effective treatment.

How to Set Goals

Goal-setting in recovery should follow the SMART criteria—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Setting SMART goals increases your chances of sticking to them and creating meaningful change.

  • Specific: Clearly define what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable: Make sure you can track your progress.
  • Achievable: Ensure the goal is realistic and doable.
  • Relevant: The goal should align with your larger objectives.
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline for when you want to achieve the goal.

10 Goals to Consider in Recovery

1. Complete Detox Safely

The first step towards recovery often involves detoxification to remove harmful substances from the body. The aim is to complete this process safely, under medical supervision.

2. Engage in Regular Physical Activity

Exercise releases endorphins, which naturally elevate your mood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even moderate exercise can help reduce anxiety and depression.

3. Build a Support Network

Create a list of people who are supportive of your recovery. This network can include family, friends, and mentors and can be built through group therapy or community events.

4. Attend All Therapy Sessions

Consistent engagement with therapy, be it individual or group, helps to address the underlying issues contributing to addiction. Make it a goal never to miss a session unless necessary.

5. Develop Coping Mechanisms

Identify triggers and develop coping strategies to deal with them. This is often done best with the guidance of a healthcare provider.

6. Achieve Financial Stability

Addiction often leads to financial instability. Create a budget and stick to it, aiming to clear debts and build savings over time.

7. Re-establish Family Connections

If addiction has strained family relationships, make it a goal to rebuild these ties. Family therapy can often assist in this process.

8. Gain Employment or Engage in Education

Stability in life often comes from being gainfully employed or actively engaged in educational pursuits. Consider vocational training or educational courses to improve your skills.

9. Follow a Balanced Diet

Nutrition plays a significant role in mental and physical well-being. Aim for a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

10. Celebrate Small Victories

Set smaller, achievable milestones and celebrate when you reach them. These can act as stepping stones to larger goals and keep you motivated.


Setting realistic goals in recovery is not just an exercise in planning but a commitment to yourself for a healthier future. By following SMART criteria and considering the ten goals outlined above, you build a robust framework for recovery that’s both achievable and tailored to your needs. Remember, the journey to recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, and setting realistic goals can keep you on the right path.