Are you ready to stop?
I can't tell you how many people I have asked this question over the years, and I always wait to hear one important difference in the answer. The difference between wanting and needing to stop.
So, what's this difference I am referring to? You would think that a need trumps a want wouldn't you? I think most people would agree that if something needs to happen, then it is more likely to happen than if we just want something to happen. Well, addiction turns so many things on their head (which is why you need a specialist) and this is yet another! You see, I feel much happier when I hear that someone wants to stop than I do if someone tells me they "must stop" or they "have to stop".
Of course, as in general counselling, it is most often the crisis that brings the client, and addiction work is no exception to that. Often, it is the imminent loss of a job or a relationship that prompts the call to the counsellor, but it is the desire the person has that is so much more important than the need!
You may be surprised to hear this, especially if you have been in an addictive cycle for years, but people tend to get what they want, even addicts. There is a principle here that I work with:
"We do things because we get something out of it."
This can be a difficult idea for someone who is clearly suffering and to a large degree out of control but my experience has been that if the person does not know and acknowledge what it is they are getting out of what they are doing, they will not allow themselves to stop!
So maybe the question is making more sense to you now. And there is another reason why it is the right place to start. Because stopping is not always the start of treatment or therapy. It may well be that immediately stopping the drugs or alcohol or even the prescription medication or the 80 hours a week you spend at work is not the best way to begin your recovery. It might show commitment and it may show those around you that you are willing to change etc. But for a lot of people, just stopping without planning or having a professional assessment is the best way of ensuring that they strengthen the addictive cycle they are caught in.
So spend some time now, if you are considering stopping, if a crisis has caused you to think about needing to change. Ask yourself this:
"Am I ready to stop? What am I still getting out of this substance or behaviour?"
Until you know this, you are travelling blind.
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About Dave Cooper
Dave Cooper is a specialist recovery therapist and runs the A2R program (alternative to rehab) which offers busy professionals an effective treatment without having to go to residential rehab. See my site for more information