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How to Increase Your Motivation for Addiction Recovery


One of the main reasons why you might remain trapped in alcoholism or drug abuse long term is that you cannot seem to develop the motivation to change. You may even become so hopeless that you decide the downward spiral of addiction is the most you can look forward to in life. The good news is that there are solutions that are going to allow you to break out of this hopelessness. Once you develop enough motivation to change, recovery becomes much easier.

Cause of Low Motivation in Addiction

There are a number of reasons why people experience low motivation in recovery. The following paragraphs will describe some of these.

The denial of addiction means that you might not be able to fully grasp the seriousness of your situation. It is common for people trapped in this type of predicament to experience what is called ‘terminal uniqueness’. This means that while you might have no problem seeing how addiction can destroy the life of other people, you somehow develop the idea that you are protected from this danger. Terminal uniqueness is very common and it explains why people engage in all types of unhealthy behaviour. The problem with this type of denial is that if you do not really believe there is a problem, it is going to be very difficult for you to develop the motivation to solve this problem.

Another very common reason why you might be dealing with low motivation is due to reduced self-efficacy. This refers to your belief in your ability to achieve a goal – the lower your self-efficacy, the less likely it is going to be that you will achieve your ambition. Self-efficacy can drop for a number of reasons in addiction. If you spend your time with people who believe they are helpless to break away from addiction, you are likely going to feel the same way, too. Self-efficacy can also fall every time you try to break away from addiction but fail.

Cognitive dissonance can also lead to low motivation. This refers to subconscious coping mechanism that humans use to protect their ego. Cognitive dissonance occurs when you hold two ideas that are in conflict with each other. It is going to be very difficult for you to ignore the information telling you that alcohol or drug abuse is dangerous. You also have this deep craving in your mind telling you to continue the behaviour. These two competing ideas create a situation of cognitive dissonance. Your mind can resolve this situation by either adopting a new idea that justifies the difference (for example, you decide that the normal rules do not apply to you), or you decide that the information warning of the dangers of addiction are exaggerated.

Yet another reason why you may have little motivation to quit your addiction can be learned helplessness. This usually occurs due to low self-esteem and low self-worth. It means that you develop the idea that the world is a hostile place and you are completely powerless to do anything to change your situation. You develop the idea that you need other people to save you, meaning that your motivation to change yourself is close to zero. This type of learned helplessness can mean you remain trapped in addiction indefinitely because there is nobody else in the world that can change your life except only you.

Importance of Strong Motivation to Break Away From Addiction

Making even a small change to your life is going to require some motivation. Breaking away from addiction is a major change, so you are going to require strong motivation to make this happen. This determination needs to be powerful enough to not only get you to take your first steps into recovery but also to propel you forward for the rest of your life in recovery.

If you are only half-committed to changing your life, you can expect to get half-results. Ambivalence is the most common reason why people fail to make a success of their recovery. They want to change, but the person still holds on to the idea that they might one day be able to safely use alcohol or drugs again. The fact that this person is not 100% committed means they are not going to be able to overcome the challenges that are ahead of them – as soon as things become hard, they are going to be very tempted to relapse.

How to Develop the Motivation to Break Away from Addiction

It is vital that you develop strong motivation in order to break away from addiction. Below are a few suggestions for how you can do this.

  • If you feel your motivation is too low to give up alcohol or drugs, it can be a great idea to spend time with an addiction therapist. This professional will help you examine the reality of your situation and the reasons that are holding you back from change. The therapist can also use a technique called motivational interviewing, which is very effective at giving unmotivated individuals the boost they need to take charge of their life.
  • The people you spend your time with are going to have a huge impact on your level of motivation. This is why in 12 step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous they suggest that you ‘stick with the winners’. By hanging around with individuals who have already managed to build a strong recovery, you are going to feel inspired to achieve the same as them – you will have thoughts like ‘well, if they can do it, so can I’.
  • If you enter a rehab program, this is going to give your motivation a huge boost. These programs are designed in such a way that almost everything in the environment is designed to encourage you to change. You are also going to be surrounded by people who will offer you support and encouragement. The other clients are going to be on the same path as you, and there can be a great sense of fellowship – there is strength in numbers. Of course, if you enter rehab without any real desire to change, the likelihood is that the boost will not be enough to guarantee your success.
  • Another thing you can do to boost your motivation is to get out paper and pen (or use your computer) to write down all your reasons for wanting to quit addiction. You can also document the great things that are likely to happen if you break away from addiction. Writing things down is far more powerful than just thinking about things, and this type of work can really focus your determination.

In order for you to have a real chance at escaping addiction, you need to be willing to do whatever is necessary. Staying sober needs to become your number one priority in life – you need to live and breathe the changes you want to make. If you develop this level of motivation, it is very likely that you are going to succeed. By combining this determination with the right resources, you become an almost unstoppable force. It is motivation that is the real secret to success in recovery, so this is something you really have to work on developing.

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