During my career, I have learned that motivation is the most important factor for change.
I have seen people who have overcome their addictive behavior just with the high motivation. Also, I have many people who continue their addictive behaviors despite enjoying the various opportunities such as professional counseling, hospitalizations, participation in meetings of famous recovery groups, and the support of good families, friends, and community.
Their motivation to quit their addiction is low and their motivation to engage in addictive behavior is high. Motivation determines whether one overcomes addictive behaviors or continues them. Therefore, motivation management is the key to change. This is because habit change requires not only an increase in motivation to quit the addictive behavior, but also a decrease in motivation to continue the addictive behavior.
I believe that motivation management includes two basic principles:
1. Ability to raise and lower motivation.
2. Ability to increase motivation while changing.
Ability to raise and lower motivation Source of motivation is the need. When a need is activated, it creates a motivation to extinguish itself.
Needs are also activated by attention. The more attention people pay to stress and anxiety and how to get rid of them, and the more attention people enjoy while using drugs, the more motivated they will be to use. Conversely, as long as people pay attention to the long-term costs and risks of addiction, motivation to quit drugs or addictive behaviors will increase.
“Selective attention” is a simple act and a powerful technique that has been used for thousands of years by religions and ideologies to motivate their followers. Today, SMART Recovery benefits from this method and uses Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) to improve motivation for change.
The CBA has four categories of questions:
1. What do I enjoy about my addiction? What does it do for me (be specific)?
2. What do I hate about my addiction? What bad things does it do to me and to others (give specific examples)?
3. What do I think I would like about quitting my addiction?
4. What do I think I won’t like about quitting my addiction?
Answering these questions develops awareness and increases motivation to quit smoking. The more people do this exercise, the more they will tend to increase their motivation to quit smoking.
Ability to increase motivation while changing
Overcoming addictive behavior is a process, not an event. Many people know how painful it can be to walk the road to change. They want to change their addictive behavior immediately, without prompting or urges, without changing their beliefs and values. Such people are like those who enjoy having reached the top of a mountain, but hate climbing mountains; or like soccer players who get pleasure only from winning, not from playing.
They start with great motivation, but gradually lose it and most do not reach their goal. Few people who make it to the end of the road. They go all the way with anger and complaints. On the contrary, those who enjoy the way their motivation increases rapidly. And reach the goal with joy and lightness. Rumi believes that loving the path not only increases motivation for us, but also leads us to the goal. She has beautifully expressed this fact in the story of a thirsty person.
On the bank of the stream there was a high wall,
painful thirsty person was on top of the wall.
His obstacle to reaching the water was the wall;
He was distressed by the water, like a fish.
Suddenly he threw a brick into the water:
the sound of the water reached his ear like spoken words.
The water was making a sound, that is, (was crying), “Hey,
What is the advantage to you of throwing a brick at me?
The thirsty one said: “O water, I have two advantages:
I will never give up on this job.
The first advantage is (my) hearing the sound of water,
that for the thirsty is music to their ears.
The other advantage is that, (with) every brick I rip out of this (wall),
I get closer (closer) to running water.
Anyone is thirstier on top of the wall,
It will rip bricks faster.
Anyone is more in love with the sound of water,
It will rip the biggest brick off the barrier.
I think the main task for people who want to overcome addictive behavior is to learn how to manage motivation. Recovery groups, psychologists, physicians, and other individuals and organizations involved in addiction treatment would do well to establish an environment to help clients/patients learn this skill.