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Another Approach to Overcoming Substance Abuse

Updated on September 8, 2018

Another Approach to Overcoming Substance Abuse.

There is a myriad of information about recovery from substance abuse and addiction. It seems most of the information that we get in programs is about Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps. I have to say from experience and observation that the A.A. program is a “my way or the highway” type of approach to overcoming substance abuse. Go to meetings, get a sponsor, Obey your sponsor, Read the big book and 12 steps and 12 traditions book, Work the 12 steps, Admit you are powerless, insane, and your life is unmanageable, Believe you have a disease, Put you faith in a higher power of your own understanding, Give your life to the program. I think you get my point. I want to give you some information that can encourage, inspire, and even enlighten you. There are other ways that an individual can overcome substance abuse and addiction. It starts with contemplation to change the behavior(s) that are influential in causing or prompting substance abuse and addiction in one’s life. You may have heard it said before that doing the substance of your choice, be it drugs, alcohol or both is only a symptom of an underlying issue. In many ways there is truth to that. What that means is that there is something going on in one’s life that is causing that person to use and abuse substances. There are many reasons why people use and abuse substances. You may even know a lot of them. Some examples are: Boredom, Loneliness, Depression, Wanting to be accepted, Pain, Guilt, Shame and the list can go on and on. What I am going to be talking about is something that is called the Transtheoretical Model of behavior change. This model is applicable not only in substance abuse but a whole bunch of other unhealthy behaviors as well. The Transtheoretical Model is composed of six distinct stages people go through in altering behavior patterns. Before I talk about these six distinct stages I want to make some things very clear. 1. It is not always easy. 2. Some people that have a physiological addiction to certain substances should be under the care and direction of a medical doctor. 3. Support is a very necessary in behavior change. 4. Slips or Relapse is not the end. What I mean by that is if one slips you don’t start back at ground zero but you merely pick yourself up and keep on heading towards the goal of changing the unhealthy behavior for good.

Stages of Change (Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change)

Ok, now to the six distinct stages of the Transtheoretical Model:

  1. Pre-contemplation: In this stage an individual is not even thinking of changing their behavior. They may have heard from others that they have a bad habit or substance abuse issue but they don’t see the need to change.
  2. Contemplation: In this stage the individual see their behavior is unhealthy and causing problems with their life and are now considering changing that behavior.
  3. Preparation: In this stage the individual is preparing themselves for actually changing their behavior by formulating a goal and a plan. They may call people and gather information on what it takes to overcome substance abuse. They may go to find a treatment program that they can go to for support and help.
  4. Action: In this stage the individual takes that information that they have gathered and puts into action the plan that they have formulated in order to attain their goal. They have done the action of beginning the learning process in order to attain coping skills to help them on their new lifestyle.
  5. Maintenance: In this stage the individual maintains the change that they have made by not repeating the substance use, abuse and other behaviors that prompt the unhealthy behavior. They may use relapse prevention techniques such as not going to certain places where one would be tempted to use drugs, call a person for support when one feels like to use a substance, exercise in replacement of substance use ect. Learn different things to do that does not require substance use such as going hiking, swimming, biking, surfing, art classes, attend a play, attend church functions ect.
  6. Termination: This is the final stage in the transtheoretical model. In this stage the individual has learned the coping skills need and developed a new lifestyle that is contrary to that of using and abusing substances. This is the stage that the person has come to when they have overcome substance abuse and addiction.

Ok, now after reading this short synopsis you are probably thinking is that it? That is all there is to it? Remember, what I said earlier! change is not always easy. Each individual is not the same either. For some people, they may overcome in a matter of days and others it may take several years. But don’t be discouraged let this be a motivator for behavior change from substance abuse and a tool that can help in the process of overcoming substance abuse and living a new and healthy lifestyle.

Another word of advice is to gain resources and reach out to others for help. There are a lot of people that care and would love to help one change unhealthy behaviors and overcome substance abuse and addiction. It helps to see specialists such as Substance Abuse Counselors, Therapists, Clinical Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Doctors, Nutritionists and others too. Take advantage of their assistance it can be very enlightening and beneficial to one’s life. If you have any questions please feel free to ask me I am a source of resources and information too.


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