In order to escape the misery of addiction the individual has to develop the motivation to quit. There is nobody else that can develop this motivation for them. This can be terribly frustrating for family and friends, but all they can really offer is support and advice. It is common for addicts to reach a point where they become willing to change their behavior. This often happens after they have acted particularly badly and this has led to feelings of remorse – it can also occur because they just feel fed up with things. If the addict does develop the motivation to quit it is vital that they take action quickly. This is because the desire to stop can evaporate as suddenly as it arises.
There are a number of obstacles that can prevent the individual from becoming ready to quit their addiction including:
* They are in denial about the problem and may not even understand why other people make such a big deal of their drinking or drug abuse. Denial is a subconscious coping mechanism that allows the individual to ignore truths that they do not feel comfortable with.
* The individual may be able to acknowledge that they have a problem with alcohol or drugs, but they do not feel capable of stopping.
* Many addicts suffer from low self esteem. This can mean that they don’t even feel they deserve to live a life that is any better than they currently experience.
* There are many individuals who would be described as having a well maintained addiction. These high functioning addicts may not believe there is any need to stop because they don’t fall into the normal stereotype for how people behave in the midst of addiction.
* The individual is surrounded by people who justify substance abuse. This normalizes their behavior so that they do not believe they are doing anything wrong.
* Becoming sober involves making some huge changes. Humans tend to fear change and so resist it.
* The individual may work on the logic that, it is better the devil you know. There is comfort in the familiar even when it involves a great deal of suffering – as contradictory as that sounds.
* The individual may have tried to quit previously but they failed to achieve their goal. They may take this to mean that such attempts will always be doomed to failure.
* They may witness other people who quit for awhile but then relapse as evidence that recovery is not possible.
* In order to justify their behavior the individual will usually develop cognitive dissonance. This means that they either ignore reality or cling to fallacious reasoning to justify their substance abuse.
* Some people will have a dual diagnosis and are using alcohol or drugs as a form of self medication. Such individuals may be convinced that it is alcohol or drugs that are helping them cope when in fact it is usually making things much worse.
* Those individuals who have serious mental health problems may struggle to gain insight into their condition.
Many addicts do reach a stage when they feel ready to quit the substance abuse. The most common reasons for why they have reached this point include:
* They have hit their personal rock bottom. This is often summed up with the phrase, they become sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
* A professional such as an addiction therapist can encourage the individual to see the reality of their situation. This can lead them to develop the willingness to quit their addiction.
* The individual may have acted particularly badly and feels full of remorse. This means that there is a chink in their armor of denial, and they become more willing to consider the possibility that they need to quit the substance abuse.
* A health scare can sometimes give the individual the motivation to quit. These mind altering substances tend to be highly toxic in the body and can lead to serious health conditions such as alcoholic liver disease.
* If somebody in their peer group manages to break away from addition it may inspire them to do the same.
* Some individuals claim to have a spiritual experience where they feel completely defeated and develop powerful motivation to quit their addiction.
* Sometimes those individuals who have been coerced into a treatment program do develop the willingness to quit. In many cases though, the individual who is coerced into this position will resist it.
* Occasionally the individual will experience something that reminds them of what they are missing in life. This can give them the motivation to evaluate their situation.
While it is true that most addicts do hit rock bottom before they quit there can be some confusion as to what this means. The common myth is that the addict has to lose everything before they will be ready to stop the behavior. This is not what is meant by rock bottom because it is possible for the individual to reach this stage while losing relatively little. A metaphor that is often used to describe this situation is that the addict is like a passenger on a descending elevator. It is up to them where they get off, but the further they descend the more they will lose. The final destination of this descent is death. The place where the individual decides to get off is their rock bottom.
Some people have developed the wrong idea that by falling lower into addiction it will make it easier to quit. This is a dangerous idea because all that really happens is that the individual will end up losing more. It makes sense for them to hit their rock bottom before they lose any more. In order words this bottom is exactly where the individual is now in their addiction, and there is no need for them to descend any further than this.
Once the individual develops the motivation to stop drinking or using fast they need to take action fast. If they fail to do so it could mean a lost opportunity because:
* The desire to quit an addiction can slip away fast. This is because it is so comfortable for the addict to slip back into their denial.
* Motivation is like an energy that is vital for creating change. If this energy is not put to use quickly it just evaporates.
* If the individual has time to discuss their plans for recovery with their drinking and drugging buddies they may be dissuaded from taking action. This is because these other substance abusers will not usually want to see somebody leave their circle.
* There is no guarantee that the individual will ever again develop the motivation to quit. This means that such willingness needs to be treated like something precious and not squandered.
In order to make the most of their readiness to stop addiction the individual can:
* Commit to entering rehab as soon as possible. It is important to not delay because they will not be able to count on the willingness still being there later.
* The individual can attend a recovery group meeting right away. Even if they later decide that this is not something that will work for them it may be a good idea to get some support in the beginning.
* An addiction therapist will be able to advise the individual on how to proceed. There are many different recovery options, and it can be difficult for the individual to decide on the best path to take.
* This willingness is like a tiny seed and the individual will need to water it or the seed will die. This can be achieved by speaking to people in recovery, and making use of those resources that promote sobriety.
* The individual can tell their family and friends about this desire to get sober. In many instances these individuals will be willing to help, but sometimes there may be lack of trust and resentment over past misdeeds.