Addiction and The Fear of Change

I remember when I quit smoking. I was 30. I’d been “trying” to quit for 2 years. Trying is like deciding, but not taking action. Actual change requires action.

We humans like to be comfortable. We like the familiar. Change represents the unknown. Who will I be as a non-smoker, non-drinker, recovering drug user, or conscious eater?  I don’t know. Scary. But, also exciting.

When a new client comes for counseling and wants to quit the behavior that’s causing problems I ask sometime during that session how motivated they are. “On a scale of 0-10 (10 most motivated you can be) how motivated are you to make a change?”  If someone doesn’t answer 8, 9 or 10 then our work is about helping them understand why the number is where it’s at and how to increase their motivation, even by half a number. Often change is less scary and more achievable when it’s baby steps rather than big leaps.

Another helpful way to know where you’re at with change is the “Transtheoretical Model of Change”.  Briefly the stages of change are:  1) Precontemplation: You don’t know the problem exists  2) Contemplation: You’re thinking about the pros and cons of change 3) Preparation: You’re nearly ready and talking about it 4) Action: You’ve made the change  5) Maintenance: New behavior practiced for 6 months. Slips still a risk. (From Dr. Oz’s “Goal Power” article in Time Mag 9-17-12)

If you have an addictive behavior assess where you’re at using the motivation question and the change model above.  No judgment. Just notice. Then ask: What would I need to think and do differently to increase my motivation?  Change may be scary, but so are the same old problems day after day. By the way, I’ve been a non-smoker now for 30 years. 

Feel free to drop me an email and let me know your situation and how it’s going.