Written By:Amber Hollingsworth,LPC
Good news!!! People don’t really have to “want to change” in order to actually change. How many times have you heard “they have to want it first?” Like a bazillion times I am sure….
We have to get over this irrational thinking, and here is why. The nature of addictive disease does not allow the person to “want to change.” I mean, come on, think about it… In general when a substance dependent person thinks about sobriety they think it must feel like absolute misery.
This is because sobriety, from their perspective, is actually linked to withdrawal. Also, during the course of developing the dependency problem, they actually lose the ability to find joy in regular hobbies, interest, activities, and relationships. When you put this together, it should be obvious why they are not all that excited about sobriety. Where they’re coming from, it feels like making the choice to feel miserable, anxious, and give up fun for like forever. So of course they don’t want recovery. For more information on the Biology of Addiction check out our You Tube Channel.
I like to be very honest (it is the only way to build trust). So, I typically tell the individual that they are gonna feel pretty darn crappy for the first two weeks at least. I say the first week is “physical hell” and the second week is “emotional hell.” And then after all that, you might begin to get the hazy impression that you could maybe, when the moon is just right, become a human again one day! Knowing what to expect helps people get through tough times, especially if they know it is going to get better and about how long to expect it to take. Eventually you will regain the ability to feel joy, happiness, and contentment. It usually gets a little better every day after that two week period.
This is extremely hard to believe when you are stuck in a substance dependency, but if you hear enough people you trust all reinforcing this same thing, it becomes a little easier to take the leap and give it a try.