Just what is motivation, and how will you know if you’re motivated to succeed at your opiate addiction treatment? Is it enough to hate the drugs you use and go to a methadone treatment program hoping that you can turn your life around? The counselor assigned to help you through your stages of treatment will talk with you quite a bit about motivation and change.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency funded by the federal government that sets definitions for various levels of substance abuse and guidelines for treatment. SAMHSA teaches us that much research has gone into the topic of motivation. The questions that it hopes to answer include:
- Can people change?
- Why do they change?
- What is motivation?
- If someone is motivated, can they quit abusing their drug of choice?
- Can the treatment professionals you meet at your local methadone program actually have an effect on your motivation to change?
SAMHSA tells us that the counselor can, indeed, motivate a person to change—to stay committed to their expressed desire for recovery.
This is what SAMHSA teaches about motivation to succeed at opiate addiction treatment:
- You cannot succeed without motivation—it’s the key to success.
- Your motivation is multidimensional. You will experience both internal and external urges and desires. You will form a perception of just what constitutes recovery. And you will feel internal and external pressures that could subvert your desire to reach recovery.
- Motivation fluctuates. Yes, you probably already knew that: Your determination to stay clean waivers at the prospect of your ten-year high school reunion.
- Motivation involves social factors. Only you can perceive and define your motivation, yet it is truly affected by the peers surrounding you.
- The clinic can modify your motivation with the style its counselors use for opiate addiction treatment.
- It is the clinician’s responsibility to bring out the strongest possible motivation in their clients.
What Does That Mean in Opiate Addiction Treatment?
SAMSHA identifies five different triggers of motivation. You don’t have to hit the so-called rock bottom of your life in order to experience a real commitment to change. You only have to realize that any of these experiences might prompt you to think about how your life would be better if you were in opiate addiction treatment.
- Feeling some distress here? Many people who are going through a period of distress or anxiety think about going into treatment. If that’s you, then pick up the phone right now and call your local methadone treatment program.
- “Critical life events” require us to draw from spiritual or religious inspiration: You’ve got to separate the natural feelings that occur when someone that you love dies, if you lose someone through marriage or divorce within your family, or if you are getting married or you’ve just learned you are pregnant.
- Cognitive evaluation of your life: Are you able to render an honest appraisal of the effects that substance abuse has created on your life? Research tells us that one-third to two-third of the changes that you make will result from your consideration of the changes in your life.
- Recognizing negative consequences: When you clearly see the link between your substance abuse and the harm or hurt that descends upon someone you love, you’ll be able to develop a motivational strategy.
- External incentives: For better or worse, your friends are there for you, hopefully not using substances and hopefully remaining near you in order to support your recovery. Those external incentives can be used as a list of your recovery model, and you will be clean and clear before you know it.
How can you best achieve those triggers of motivation? Researchers tell us that your counselor can directly impact various aspects of your opiate addiction treatment.
- Cultural. Everybody feels the effects of culture in their lives. Culture is not just your race, religion, and ethnicity. It also refers to your lifestyle, how much money you have, your level of education, plus much more. Your counselor can help you apply your best cultural strengths to your recovery.
- Medical effects. Undoubtedly you’ve heard old jokes about being just a little pregnant. There is also no such thing as just a little bit addicted. Who else abuses substances in your family? In the case of opiate addiction treatment, it’s worth exploring the impact that genetics might have on your addiction.
- Spirituality. Whether or not you believe directly in God, you’ve got to recognize that you have not been able on your own to stop using drugs, and that you will ask a power than runs the universe—no matter what form you think that power takes—to help you make change in your life.
- Psychological effects. Opiate addiction can result from an inability to learn or an emotional inability to recognize the harm of certain behaviors. Co-occurring disorders may prevent you from benefiting from treatment. You also have to believe in your own ability to have an impact on changes in your own behavior.
Motivation and the Five Stages of Change
From the time you first walk into a methadone treatment program to ask for help, you will evolve through various stages of change. Consider these five stages of change recognized by SAMHSA:
- Precontemplation. At the beginning of your opiate addiction treatment, you do not believe that you really need to change very much. You see that there are people who do much worse than you, and so you think you don’t need to change as much as they do. For some people, their lives are so bad that they can’t see how change would make a difference.
- Contemplation. This is the stage when you begin to think that just maybe your life would get a modicum better if you quit using drugs. At this stage, obviously, you have quite a ways left to go, but it’s a real start. It can take a person quite a long time to move out of this stage—even years.
- Preparation. You have identified ways that you can bring about change in your life, and those changes outweigh the benefits of continued drug use. You are beginning to think about the choices you have and recognize that you really can have a positive impact on your own life.
- Action. At this stage, you are working on change and facing the challenges that come with it. Your own idea of yourself and your self-image are changing. Once you reach this stage you can expect to remain in it for approximately six months.
- Maintenance. This will be the long-term time in your life when you are reaping the benefits of change and of recovery, and you will work to sustain them. Your main job during this time will be to analyze the things that might set you back and guard against them. It can take a person as little as six months or as much as several years to reach their goals when they are in this phase, but just remember—recovery is a journey you will travel for your entire life.
Just remember, as you consider your options for beginning opiate addiction treatment, that the counselors at your local treatment program are trained in ways to help you examine and elicit your motivations. By understanding the changes, you can be prepared for them and move into them with less resistance. Ultimately, you will move through the stages at your own pace, because at the end of the day, you are the one who holds all the power over your own recovery.