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Motivation to Get Clean

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Motivation to Get Clean

Going through rehab to get clean and stay clean can be intimidating and scary. You may be afraid of what others will think. You might worry about your job or your family. You might dread going through painful withdrawal and the side effects that accompany the process. The idea of meeting with strangers and being honest about your behavior may hinder your resolve to get the help you need.

Motivation is the passion, will, and determination to begin and complete a course of action. Motivation will be a key factor in your drug recovery. A 1999 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that a person’s level of motivation is a strong predictor of whether or not that person will continue in addiction or change his behavior.

According to an article from Psych Central, motivation can come in two forms:

  1. External motivation – This means doing something (like completing drug rehab) for reasons outside of the person. External motivation can come from friends, parents, or children. It can also come in the form of money, grades, or praise and punishment.
  2. Internal motivation – This kind of motivation doesn’t seek any external reward. The drive to complete a goal results from your own feelings, thoughts, and values. Internal motivation does not depend on the action or reaction of anyone else.
Motivation to Get Clean

Both internal and external motivation can help you get clean and stay that way. Professionals invested in your addiction recovery will help you uncover and cling to those motivating factors as you work through the rehab process. In fact, researchers have developed Motivational Enhancement Therapy as a counseling approach to help addicts in the process of drug recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), this type of therapy seeks to help an addict resolve any uncertainty about being fully engaged in treatment and stirs his motivations for sobriety. Together an addict and a therapist work together to strengthen motivation and create a plan for change based on those motivations.

How You Can Motivate Yourself

While external motivations can provide some impetus for getting and staying clean, they cannot be the sole reasons you complete drug recovery. In a 1999 report cited in the journal Alcohol Research and Health, external motivators provide short-term success in abstaining from substances, but a high level of internal motivation is critical in long-term sober living. External motivators, including family and loved ones, can fail, disappoint and change leaving you with a lessened resolve to get clean. You can only control your own personal motivations. Ways to motivate yourself include the following:

  • Complete a cost-benefit analysis – This may seem like a difficult exercise, but it is actually quite easy. Simply take out a sheet of paper and fold it length-wise and height-wise. You have just created four boxes. In the top left write “benefits of using drugs.” In the top right write “costs of using drugs.” In the lower left square, write “benefits of quitting drugs” and in the lower right write “cost of quitting drugs.” Then fill in the blanks. What are the benefits of using drugs? What does a drug addiction cost you financially, emotionally, socially, and relationally? What are the benefits of quitting drug use? What are the costs or drawbacks? When complete, carry this sheet of paper with you at all times. When you are tempted to use drugs or bail on treatment, take out the sheet of paper and review the benefits of getting clean.
  • Get and stay in counseling – Both individual and group counseling can help you stay motivated about abstinence. Hearing others’ stories of success can remind you that success is within reach. Talking about possible coping techniques boosts your resolve to stay clean. Even helping someone else in your group who has just begun the process can provide motivation to keep going.
  • Write your own obituary – This may seem like a morbid activity, but it can be an effective tool to motivate you to get clean and stay clean. What do you want to be written about you? What legacy do you want to leave behind? What values, beliefs, and memories do you want to leave with your family and friends? What career do you want to pursue? Hobbies? Volunteer actions? Take time to write out how you would like to be remembered by those who love you. Then ask yourself one important question: will addiction help me achieve these things? When you are tempted to return to drugs, take out this obituary and read it as a reminder.
  • Reward yourself – When you have stayed clean for a week, how can you treat yourself? Go to a movie (being careful about the themes in it). Buy a few songs to download and listen to. After a month of sobriety, what can you do? Go visit a friend out of town. Keep setting goals and rewards for completing them. On your one-year anniversary of sobriety, celebrate big!
  • Motivational speeches – Find a motivational speaker you like. Download some speeches that he or she has given. When you are feeling down or needing a boost, listen to a speech or discussion to bolster your resolve to get clean. You can listen to these over and over.

Motivation is personal. What works for someone else might not work for you. The key is finding effective motivators and sticking with those.

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