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Why You Should Avoid Comparisons

A lot depends on success in addiction recovery so it’s understandable that you would want to know how you’re doing as you go through treatment and beyond. Unfortunately, many people judge their progress in recovery by comparing themselves to others. This is a bad idea and hold you back in the following ways. 

Comparisons make you miserable.

First, comparisons are bad for your mental health. Given that most people who struggle with substance use disorders have co-occurring mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, PTSD, and others, managing your mood is extremely important for addiction recovery. One study found that people who made more frequent social comparisons were more likely to experience negative emotions like envy, guilt, regret, and defensiveness. [] They were also more likely to lie, blame others, and have unmet cravings. 

Social comparison has often been cited as a mechanism linking excessive social media use to poorer mental health. One study divided 143 college students into two groups. One was asked to limit their social media use to 30 minutes a day for three weeks and the other group was asked to continue their normal social media use. [] At the end of the study, the participants that had limited their social media use felt significantly better, reporting less depression and loneliness. Participants who had felt more depressed at the beginning of the study showed the greatest improvement in mood. 

Comparisons are never accurate.

People often compare themselves to others to know how they are doing but these comparisons are never accurate. Everyone enters treatment with a different addiction history. Someone who has struggled with opioid addiction for 10 years is going to have a different trajectory than someone who has been drinking excessively for 3 years. What’s more, everyone has different needs and advantages. Some people have more supportive families while others have less severe genetic vulnerabilities to addiction. You never know what challenges other people are dealing with.

Comparisons distract from real measures of progress.

Comparing yourself to others distracts from the only true measure of progress: how you were doing yesterday. Not everyone will have the same priorities in recovery. Part of the process is figuring out where you need the most help and looking for ways to improve those areas. Looking to others is no help in this regard and might even cause you to overlook signs of progress in your own recovery.


Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138

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