Three-quarters of us who have abused or were dependent upon a substance or activity have either self-remitted or moderated to non-abusive levels, either completely on our own, or with minimal help. That we have done so without formal treatment or self-help programs has been well-established by the scientific community in many detailed studies over several decades. In fact, at least 34 studies have indicated that the single most effective treatment method for dependence is a single brief intervention from a trusted healthcare provider, such as a family doctor.[i]
In 1999, I was sitting on a hospital bed, waiting to be released, merely five days after a major heart attack, wondering how to convince my wife to stop on the way home for a carton of cigarettes. Before my cardiologist signed the release, she looked me right in the eyes and told me that if I started smoking again, my chances of dying, and doing it quickly, were four times greater than if I didn’t. If that wasn’t enough, my wife told me on the way home that she would leave me, should I ever smoke again, because she couldn’t stay around to watch me die. I have never smoked again!Continue reading
This post covers the last three stages in the Prochaska-DiClemente change model, the Maintenance, Relapse, and Termination phases. How these are approached depends upon the action method you choose, and whether your goal is abstinence or moderation of your addiction. As are the other stages, these are fluid, and should be looked upon as a continuum, not as though they are hard-and-fast categories.
Maintenance – learning to live
After a few months of action in your chosen method, you’re starting to feel pretty good about yourself again. “Unconditional Self-Acceptance,” which we haven’t mentioned yet, but will be in important tool in your program no matter which one you choose, will have really kicked-in, and you should be starting to do some long-term goal-setting. Your emphasis here is in truly making the new thought processes you are learning such a part of you that using just isn’t something you can conceive of doing any longer. You are becoming a different person, and life without your drug-of-choice is something you can not only conceive of, but you are actually planning it.Continue reading
In the last chapter, we learned that 75% of all addicts quit using on their own without benefit of formal treatment or 12-step groups. In this chapter, we are going to explore exactly how they manage to overcome alcohol and drug dependence, which the prevailing wisdom tells us that one cannot do without help. What is there that appears to be different about those who recover on their own that separates them from the other 25% who show-up in treatment centers and 12-step groups, some of them over and over, and many of whom never recover from their condition.
There are many paths to recovery, perhaps as many as there are people who successfully recover. Those who achieve stable recovery tend to find their own way, some with the help of friends and family, some without; some with the help of formal religion, others making use of philosophical disciplines like Zen, or nothing at all; others find recovery in the rooms of self-help groups such as AA, NA or SMART Recovery®; still others utilize some sort of professional treatment facility, usually 12-step-based, but not always, as there are other therapies available. Many who recover choose more than one path, or a combination of paths, depending upon what works best in our own particular circumstances.
Whatever path is chosen, we all go through pretty much the same “stages” of change, and that’s what this chapter will focus upon: What these stages of change are, exactly, what triggers them, how do you tell what “stage” you’re in, and, most importantly, how do you begin? Continue reading
From time-to-time, I will post articles such as this that highlight promising new research that supports recovery ideas and principles that appear in “Powerless No Longer.” This article, from “Medical News Today,“ addresses research into the disability of addicts to delay short-term gratification, even when they know that the long-term consequences of using are dire.
“The growing numbers of new cases of substance abuse disorders are perplexing. After all, the course of drug addiction so often ends badly. The negative consequences of drug abuse appear regularly on TV, from stories of celebrities behaving in socially inappropriate and self-destructive ways while intoxicated to dramatization of the rigors of drug withdrawal on “Intervention” and other reality shows.
Schools now educate students about the risks of addiction. While having a keen awareness of the negative long-term repercussions of substance use protects some people from developing addictions, others remain vulnerable.
One reason that education alone cannot prevent substance abuse is that people who are vulnerable to developing substance abuse disorders tend to exhibit a trait called “delay discounting”, which is the tendency to devalue rewards and punishments that occur in the future. Delay discounting may be paralleled by “reward myopia”, a tendency to opt for immediately rewarding stimuli, like drugs. Continue reading