What Is Goal Setting?

Goal setting can be defined as a psychology-oriented process that works on the belief that people can change behaviours and work well towards specific goals. Goal setting is an integral part of the recovery journey as it provides the patient with the motivation they need to achieve and remain on the path to healing.

Meaningful goals can help to maximise the client’s engagement in their recovery programme and can help to motivate them to continue to participate in their rehab treatments so that they can achieve their goals.

The process of goal setting can also be helpful for therapists at rehab during therapy treatments as it can provide them with a better overview, which contributes to their sessions with content that is the best or most meaningful for that particular patient.


Goal Setting in Addiction Recovery

Goal setting between patients and therapists is a complex and essential part of any rehabilitation programme, and it also plays a pivotal role in relapse prevention. This is the formal process where a rehab professional will work with their patient and potentially their families to come up with some manageable and attainable goals that can be worked towards throughout the ongoing recovery.

Goal setting is known to be incredibly effective, as it directs rehab interventions towards a specific outcome. This process then results in improved recovery and much greater satisfaction for the patient.

Setting goals in this way will ensure that the patient and their therapists have common goals in mind that they can work towards together, ensuring nothing is missed. These essential goals can also be used as a way of evaluating the success of the rehab treatments.

There are no set rules when it comes to goal setting. However, this method is widely used as a guide towards meaningful and achievable outcomes. Goal setting is an evidence-based process that is widely used in rehab facilities all over the world.


How to Incorporate Goals Into Your Addiction Recovery Treatment Plan

Incorporating goals into an addiction recovery treatment plan is crucial as it can pave the way for a structured and successful recovery journey. After all, goals serve as mile markers, providing a clear direction and tangible objectives to strive for while overcoming addiction.

Below, you’ll find advice on how to effectively incorporate optimistic and realistic goals into your addiction recovery plan.

Focus on the Future

Goal-setting can shift the focus from past mistakes to future possibilities, helping to build a constructive mindset. Structuring your goals to emphasise future achievements and progress can encourage a sense of hope and motivation, which are essential components in recovery.

Establish Your Support Network

Building a support network of friends, family, and support groups can help in maintaining focus on your goals and providing encouragement and accountability. Sharing your goals and progress with supportive individuals can strengthen your commitment to recovery.

Seek Professional Guidance If You Need It

Incorporate therapy or counselling sessions into your recovery plan to deal with past issues and plan for a healthier and happier future. Professionals can offer support and guidance in setting realistic and achievable goals, addressing underlying issues, and developing coping mechanisms.

Review and Adjust Your Goals Regularly

Regularly reviewing your goals ensures they remain relevant and aligned with your progress and changing circumstances. Adjusting goals as needed can prevent feelings of failure and frustration and can maintain motivation and commitment to recovery.

Celebrate Small Wins

Acknowledging and celebrating every small achievement in your recovery journey can really help with motivation. Whether maintaining sobriety for a day or a month, every step forward is a victory worth celebrating.

Use SMART Goals

There is a valuable technique for incorporating goals into your addiction recovery treatment plan. This is known as SMART goals.

By using this technique, you’re ensuring that your goals are meaningful to you.


Using SMART Goals in Addiction Recovery

As we highlighted above, a beneficial tool for addiction recovery is SMART goals. The acronym ‘SMART’ stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Individuals undergoing recovery benefit from incorporating SMART goal setting into their addiction recovery plan, as it provides a structured approach, enhancing their likelihood of success.

When defining personal SMART goals, individuals should assess aspects of their current life that they appreciate and identify areas they aspire to change. Additionally, contemplating future aspirations and achievements is also very important, along with pinpointing any new experiences they wish to have.

This comprehensive reflection and visionary thinking truly help to pave the way for setting realistic and transformative goals. Below is an overview of the SMART method for goal setting in addiction recovery.


To ensure a more effective recovery journey, set clear and specific goals that address what needs to be achieved.

A specific goal may clarify ‘how much’ or ‘how many,’ which makes the goal more tangible and manageable. This specificity allows individuals to have a clear understanding of what they are working towards and how their actions align with their recovery goals.

For instance, if one’s goal is to make sure to attend support groups, a specific goal could be “I will attend an in-person Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting every week for the next three months.”


Goals should be as quantifiable as possible, allowing individuals to track their progress as time goes on.

By having measurable milestones, such as attending a certain number of weekly support meetings or tracking a certain amount of time in recovery, individuals can more clearly assess their advancements on the path to recovery.


Achievable goals are those that are realistic. It is important to assess the feasibility of goals based on personal and current capabilities and resources. Unattainable goals can lead to frustration and despair, potentially causing setbacks in the recovery journey.

By setting attainable objectives, individuals can maintain motivation and continue making progress throughout their recovery journey. For example, setting a goal to attend therapy sessions twice weekly is more achievable and less discouraging than aiming for daily sessions without considering individual circumstances, commitments and constraints.


Addiction recovery goals must be relevant and significant to the individual, and each one set should be connected to the individual’s desire for sobriety and wellness.

This ensures the goals are value-driven, encouraging a sense of purpose and motivation. For example, a relevant goal for someone could be to develop healthier coping mechanisms to manage stress, as it directly relates to sustaining sobriety.


Lastly, every recovery goal should have a well-defined timeframe, providing a clear deadline for the individual to strive toward.

Whether they are short-term or long-term, having a clear timeline helps structure progress and encourages consistent development and achievement in the recovery process. For example, if someone aims to implement a new, positive habit, a time-bound goal could involve engaging in a specific activity daily or weekly for the next three months.


Even when we set ourselves goals, it’s not unusual to have a few hiccups on our way towards achieving those goals.

If you’ve ensured your goals are SMART, you’ve hopefully set yourself some achievable goals. However, it’s important to be aware that there may also be unplanned factors that can come into play, so it’s possible you may need to rethink your goals for recovery.

Below, you’ll find some advice that may be worth applying to your addiction recovery journey.

  • It’s important to remember that things may not go exactly to plan the first time around. But, you’ll gain useful knowledge from the experience, which you can apply to next time.
  • If your experience with goal setting turns out to be not as smooth sailing as you hoped, try not to refer to this as a failure. You haven’t given up trying, therefore, you haven’t failed.
  • When setting your goals, it’s helpful to identify any obstacles that could prevent you from reaching them and prepare for them beforehand. Make lists or a schedule for implementing your goals, so you have time to devote to your recovery goals.
  • Even if you schedule in for a small amount of effort at a time, this will quickly build up and produce great results while pursuing your goals.
  • It’s a good idea to include your friends and family in your goal-setting. They can help you maintain your goals and check in with you that you’re on the right track. Write your plans to ensure your loved ones have access to them so everyone is on the same page.

All these steps and advice display the importance of goal setting in addiction recovery.


Get in Touch Today

We hope you’ve found the information provided on addiction recovery goal-setting useful. If you have any questions or queries, please contact our team on 01253 847 553 or email us at info@oceanrecoverycentre.com.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: September 28, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.