Overcoming an addiction is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to deal with. Which is why it’s so important to understand that your addiction is a disease of the brain and not a personal weakness.
Even though the part of your brain that rules logic tells you that you need to stop using drugs and alcohol, your brain (now wired for drug use) causes the pleasure centers to override this logic with uncontrollable cravings that rob you of your ability to stop using or even wanting to stop.
So, the question is… what will inspire you to take the first steps to changing your addictive behaviors?
Pain and Consequences
It’s a matter of time until an addict’s life becomes unmanageable and is consumed with pain and unpleasant consequences.
If you are, or have been at this point in your addiction, the bright side is, this is often the tipping point where logic starts to kick in. But, the amount of pain required for anyone to want to change their life is different for each person.
This is often referred to as hitting “rock bottom.” For some people, rock bottom can be losing their job, the threat of divorce, insurmountable financial difficulties, or unmanageable health problems. For others, the pain and shame has to be much worse (arrests, jail time, homelessness) for them to truly desire a better life. So, how much pain will it take for you to want to make positive changes?
Hope: A Necessary Component
If you feel your life has become has reached the depths of hopelessness, your lack of hope is keeping you handcuffed to addiction. Hope is essential in sparking the desire to make a change in your life…hope that you can change and hope that your life will be better if you are successful.
Hope can come from a respected teacher, colleague, a pastor, a doctor, self-help material, or even a song. And, when you begin to feel hopeful that you can turn your life around, continue to focus on anything and everything that will bolster these feelings of hope.
Understanding the Importance of Living
Knowing what’s really important to you and why you care about it can help you stay motivated as you begin the process of change, which to be honest is never easy and often painful.
For many people, staying alive and healthy for their family is a very strong motivator. And, if family is your reason for wanting to live and make changes, you’ll need to concentrate on this motivation to keep other temptations from controlling you.
Passion and Spirituality
Finding something positive and exciting other than your addiction to be passionate about is the key to staying motivated and retraining your brain. This is hard to do if you’re in the grips of addiction, but give it some time, and as you start down the road to recovery you’ll find other interests that energize you besides drugs and alcohol that will replace the negative behaviors.
Finally, having some form of spirituality (not necessarily religion) will give you a connection to something greater than yourself. This will guide you in defining your own values and morals and promote accountability, all of which will help you in the healing process. It could be anything that lights your fire, like mindfulness meditation, or yoga.
Recognizing your addiction and the need to change is the first step, but it usually isn’t enough. Motivational Enhancement Therapy has proven to be an effective research-based methodology for improving an individual’s motivation to change behavior. It has been used by many people who were on the edge and just needed a little extra help to find their motivation to change.