Self-management is particularly important for those people who have had the experience of addiction, because only they can be responsible for their day-to-day self-care decisions. There are basically three tasks to manage your health (Lorig, & Holman).
- Medical management of any health condition, such as taking medication or following a special diet.
- Maintaining, changing or creating new meaningful life goals such as finding a job that reduces exposure to cues and high risk situations to use.
- Dealing with the emotional aspect of having a chronic condition. Emotions such as anger, fear, frustration, and depression are commonly experienced by everyone with a chronic health condition. Learning to manage these emotions is part of the work required to manage addiction.
What is important in self-management of health is that you identify what is most important to you (Lorig, & Holman). If you have arthritis, it might be pain control. If you have diabetes, it might be blood sugar level control. If you have the experience of addiction, it might be stress management, cues and cravings control, or loneliness and boredom reduction. Self-management will work for you, if you take the time to identify your health goals to manage your past addiction and prevent relapse. You will need to make sure you seek professional advice about your physical and mental health.
Self-management programs have been proven to significantly improve health behaviors. Some include: an increase in the amount of exercise, an increase in skill level and practice of symptom management, and improved communication with physicians. Self-management has been documented as effective for arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, chronic back pain, anxiety, and addiction. Self-management of health has also been documented as improving health status generally, and reducing disability, fatigue, and worry about health conditions (Lorig, & Holman). Self-management is effective when you (Lorig, & Holman):
- Develop problem solving skills.
- Make decisions based on information.
- Effectively use the internet, library and community resources to find quality information.
- Use communication skills to develop positive partnerships with health professionals.
- Take action on your health.
- Feel more in control of your condition or illness.