09 Sep “Jason, what does it take to get sober?”
At the end of the speech, a blonde woman, well dressed and classy, like my mother, raises her hand in the audience. I smile and call on her.
“Jason, what does it take to get sober? What made you finally ‘get it’?”
At the end of every speech, and in every intake meeting with a prospective client at my treatment center, family members inevitably ask these questions. Like clockwork, they also ask, “Why can’t he just stop? Why won’t he change?”
What did it take for me to get sober?
I will tell you that it was not just one thing that got me sober. It was the aggregate of experiences, relapses, consequences, pain, people, and the workings of a Higher Power. My progress through the stages of change took years, not months. It was a journey, not an event. I seriously vacillated between periods of committed sobriety and relapse multiple times before I felt enough internal motivation to finally do the work to change. That work, for me, was the life-changing and powerful 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which I am a proud member.
What is the “key” to change?
Motivation is the key. Period. The key to changing any behavior is having the motivation to do the work. Changing a behavior is not easy, especially symptomatic behavior stemming from an actual illness, like addiction. This is also why boundaries are so important. Boundaries help move someone through the stages of change. Whether or not someone attempts natural recovery or seeks treatment, they begin to realize that “something” must change. However, that “something” needs to be strong enough, meaningful enough, and powerful enough to cause a person to move away from addiction and toward recovery. That “something” is a person’s reason “Why?”—a person’s motivation. Boundaries, combined with empathy, can effectively evoke a person’s reason “Why?”.
At some point in every recovered addict’s life, there came a moment when the costs of using drugs and alcohol outweighed the benefits. Internal motivation is the keystone. Recovery takes daily action, so there needs to be a profound personal reason to keep fighting day in and day out. In fact, in order to be successful in overcoming addiction, recovery must become the number one priority in his life. In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, you will hear these words, “Half measures availed us nothing.” This is true. He must become willing to go to any length to get and stay sober. You can help evoke this motivation if you do things the right way.
How do you inspire his internal motivation?
It all starts with empathy. It is critical that you be empathetic about the fact that addiction is a sickness, not a moral issue. Also, please try to put yourself in his shoes. He may not be ready to change. He may be afraid of losing his identity if he changes. He may be unaware it is a problem. He may be in denial. He may not believe that he can be happy and sober at the same time. Understand that the thought of getting sober feels daunting and frightening. For us addicts, it feels suffocating. Addiction is a love/hate relationship. It’s like being in a toxic relationship with someone you know is bad for you, but you just can’t seem to break it off for good. Try to understand, rather than be understood. Show compassion for the suffering he is going through underneath the surface. I’ll tell you straight, what he is going through is no joke. It’s the toughest thing I have, or will ever face in my life. I have total compassion and empathy for those who suffer with addiction. Addicts will respond positively when they feel understood, loved, and respected.
Stay with me and I will help empower you to influence your addict and get results.
If you need help with treatment, visit my other site www.idahoaddictioncenters.com.
Renaissance Ranch Addiction Treatment 208-286-4274