Sabotage of Recovery

Sabotage is the intentional obstruction of or damage to some productive process, organized activity, etc. Everyone you are around will fall on some continuum between very supportive and very destructive to your recovery from your addiction(s).

Most people would help if they could, but may not know how. For example, your family may mean to help, but due to their attitudes they may make embarrassing, inappropriate, or awkward suggestions about what you should do for your recovery. Real sabotage of recovery applies to those who actively disrupt the recovering person’s efforts.

Reasons Why would someone sabotage recovery? Some reasons might include:

  • Protecting their own addiction(s)
  • Keeping secrets, like incest
  • Fear of change, if in a dysfunctional family
  • Fear of abandonment; that you might outgrow them


Why do people sabotage their own recovery? For the same reasons listed above. Self-sabotage means you do not have to give up your addiction. Certainly the disease has a vested interest in that.

You may have some secrets that you fear you must own up to if you get into recovery. It is important to address these secrets directly rather than to allow the denial of them to be used as an excuse by your disease.

You may fear the changes that will take place if you recover. Fear is a natural feeling, and most people have some fear of almost any kind of change. But the pattern of responding to such fears by drinking, using, gambling, spending, smoking, bingeing, purging, or starving — this pattern is part of addiction.


If someone else seems to be trying to sabotage recovery, it may be because they are skeptical about the recovering addict’s sincerity, especially if the addict has tried many methods of recovery previously. Try letting the saboteurs know exactly why it is so important that they be supportive and not sabotage recovery. Often people just don’t realize how important recovery is.

If they continue to sabotage, the recovering addict will need to draw on their Higher Power or the Program for strength to either tolerate the condition, or get out of the saboteur’s life, at least temporarily.

How to Leave

How do you leave someone when it is necessary for your recovery? Often addiction and poor self-esteem conspire to make it unthinkable to change jobs or spouses, or to stop calling your parents every day.

You should begin to question how much that person loves or cares for you if they are unwilling to support your recovery when you are being honest about how important it is. At some point you might have to choose between recovery and a particular job or relationship, at least temporarily.

Sabotage of recovery, see also: Abstinence, Acceptance, Aftercare, Assertiveness, Celebrations, Chronic pain, Control, Crisis, Delusion, Dichotomous thinking, Eating plans, Family, Habit & structure, Halfway house, Intervention, Prayer & meditation, Priorities, Progression, Relapse & prevention, Relaxation, Sleep, Sponsorship, Steps of AA, Stinking thinking, Therapy & treatment.

Updated 12 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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