Thu. Jul 7th, 2022

The Hidden Dangers of An Ego in Recovery


It’s not very difficult to become an addict. The only essential precursor to addiction is the continuous use or abuse of mind-altering substances. Many people assume that only substance abusers become addicts, but it’s exceedingly common for people taking prescription drugs for legitimate reasons to become physically dependent on those drugs. After becoming addicted, the mental and emotional effects of the disease make it unlikely for addicts to realize their situation and seek treatment. Instead, they often remain in denial of the presence or severity of their addictions.

On the other hand, recovering from addiction is quite a difficult, complicated process. In some cases, it takes addicts years or even decades before they become ready for recovery on their own rather than being encouraged by family members and friends. And even when they are encouraged to receive treatment, there’s no guarantee that an individual will be able to remain sober indefinitely. A successful, long-term recovery is dependent on a number of different, yet interdependent, parts. People are always looking for the “secret ingredient” to lasting sobriety, but there’s no piece to the puzzle that’s singularly elusive. However, there are endless suggestions as to what you shouldn’t do, one of which is having an ego in recovery.

Therefore, we have decided that it’s time to discuss pride. In particular, we’re going to explain why being too full of pride — or having a big ego — can put your sobriety at risk.

The Trouble With Ego in Recovery

Before we start talking about the risks that pride poses to sobriety, let’s first make sure we have a basic understanding of the concept of pride and some of the inherent issues of being too prideful.

Discussions of pride often take place during or around discussions of the Judeo-Christian Bible. Considered one of the “Seven Deadly Sins”, pride is essentially defined as being the deep feelings of pleasure and satisfaction that one gets from one’s own achievements, personal qualities or characteristics, or possessions. In many contexts, pride is associated with feelings of superiority since it tends to be attached to traits that distinguish a person from others in some way, especially when it makes that individual privileged in some way. That’s not to say that a person isn’t supposed to feel somemeasure of price; on the contrary, it’s natural and expected to feel proud about one’s achievements, but too much pride can be problematic for a number of reasons.


When people are filled with too much pride, one of the things that can happen is that they can become complacent. By definition, complacency refers to a feeling of smugness and uncritical satisfaction. A person who has become complacent has begun to feel like he or she has no more room for improvement, which leaves him or her vulnerable to unexpected threats that could negate those achievements.

egotistical woman looking in mirror


Another major problem that occurs when a person’s ego becomes too big is carelessness. Similar to the smugness a person feels after becoming complacent, having too much pride can result in a person feeling like he or she no longer needs to put effort into a certain activity or endeavor. This often means that the person begins being very careless with his or her decisions, causing mistakes that effectively negate any sense of achievement or pride that he or she had previously felt.


By definition, someone who is oblivious has little to no awareness of what is happening around them. Obliviousness is another very common pitfall of having too big an ego. Essentially, this happens when a person’s pride makes him or her feel as though they’re on some type of pedestal while everyone else is beneath them to some degree; therefore, they pay little attention to anyone or anything that they consider unworthy of their time and efforts. This often means they’re unable to prepare for things that may be coming and frequently means huge mistakes later.


Understandably, a huge ego in recovery is extremely off-putting. Even if having such immense amounts of pride wasn’t off-putting, people who have such huge egos often distance themselves from the people they feel are beneath them, which is basically everyone who doesn’t share in their achievements or possessions. As a result, this alienates these individuals from the people around them, meaning they have very little support and encouragement during times of need.

Why a Big Ego is Dangerous to Recovery

Now that we’ve discussed some of the major problems that come with having too much pride, we can identify some of the more specific reasons why a big ego is a threat to one’s recovery. Many of the threats that a big ego poses to addiction recovery stem from the extent to which such immense pride alters one’s perceptions. A person who has managed to stay sober for a period of time — perhaps a year, for the sake of example — might begin to feel overly proud of him or herself, which might lead him or her to begin believing that there’s nothing that could derail their recovery. This leaves the individual vulnerable because he or she is no longer focusing on the things he or she must continuously do to safeguard their recovery; instead, the individual believes that he or she has already done everything that needed to be done and no longer needs to worry about it. This is complacency, carelessness, and obliviousness coinciding in the worst way.

A person with a huge ego is at risk of putting little to no effort into ensuring the longevity of his or her recovery. Recovery is not a task that’s checked off a to-do list; rather, it’s a lifestyle. It requires continuous focus and effort to remain sober, and the major threat posed to recovery by excess pride is that a person begins to think that relapse is impossible. This can lead the individual to begin taking greater and greater risks. Additionally, an ego alienates a person’s friends and family, resulting in the individual having no support system in place to help him or her overcome temptation. In short, several effects of a big ego — complacency, obliviousness, carelessness, and alienation — cause a person to become less protective about his or her sobriety, which is incredibly dangerous and a recipe for disaster.


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