Motivation is not a personality trait, it is an eagerness to change, a state of readiness. Motivation can change from one situation or time to another. You can influence your own motivation. To decrease the desirability of continued drug and alcohol use:
- First list all your positive reasons (e.g. to have excitement) for using alcohol and drugs and negative reasons (e.g. to manage anger) for using alcohol and drugs.
- Then take the time to list in detail all the many benefits for not using (e.g. I will have more money). Then list the disadvantages of not using (e.g. I will have to find new friends).
- Now go over your lists and tip the balance in your favor by adding more and more positive reasons not to use and benefits of not using.
Research shows that people who want to increase their motivation to change need to take the time to list the positive and negative reasons for both actions: using and not using. Then they need to weight reasons in favor of the desired action, not using. Each individual’s tipping point will be different and specific to them (Miller, & Rollick,
You can increase your motivation for change by developing personal life goals that are realistic, clear, and based on standards of behavior that are normal and praiseworthy. Behaviors that are acceptable and normal among heavily drinking and drug-using friends are not usually acceptable in the wider community and the world of friends you’re attempting to enter (Miller, & Rollick, 1991). Share your goals with non-using family and friends, and get feedback. That way, you will know whether they are reasonable and still high enough for you to have some challenge. Goals and feedback together will help create your own motivation for change.
Your motivation for change increases as you challenge yourself to consider new options for change in your life and take action to achieve new goals. Clearly, by reading this book, you are opening your mind to options that will decrease the desirability of continuing drug and alcohol abuse. You are making a life plan that includes relapse prevention and excludes activities that place you at risk. You can increase your self-motivation through action. Action always precedes an increase in motivation. Mistakenly, we sometimes think that motivation comes first. It doesn’t. Action precedes motivation (Miller, & Rollick, 1991). Take time today to complete and begin your own:
- Personal Cue Inventory and Strategies to Manage Cues
- Craving Management Plan
- Exercise, Recreation and Social Activities Plan
Start today and exercise every day. Use relaxation techniques every day. Improve your nutrition at every meal. Increase relapse prevention knowledge through reading every day. Take courses. Read and practice increasing problem-solving skills, communication skills, relaxation, exercise skills, and social skills. Increase your nutrition knowledge and maintain your sleep patterns every day.
Work to create a positive attitude and environment for yourself, for your future. Accept that you may feel conflicted and deal with it. Ambivalence plays a central role in changing behaviors in addiction, body weight, and most of the tough changes in life. People recognize the cost, harms, and risks involved in their behavior. But, they are still attracted to the harmful behavior. Ambivalence is about holding two conflicting sets of emotions and feelings at the same time (Miller, & Rollick, 1991). Does this sound familiar?
Learned patterns of alcohol and drug abuse are powerful sources of ambivalence. Habits take time to change and they are powerful sources of ambivalence. Addiction is a classic example of approach avoidance conflict. I can’t live with it; I can’t live without it. Approach avoidance conflict is known as the most difficult type of conflict to resolve for all people, not just people with the experience of addiction. It has the greatest potential for keeping people stuck and creating stress.