Change is Not Easy
Whether people participate in the formal rehabilitation process or not, making change is never easy and requires a great deal of effort to attain the desired changes and then maintain them. Sometimes it can take a long time. And maintaining change is a lifelong task.
There are 3 stages of change:
Making a change can be difficult for people because early action is often not rewarding. Particularly when changing addictive behaviors, there can be “much pain with no apparent gain” as people go through detoxification and experience withdrawal. Having support early on helps. Coaches and councilors can provide support and encouragement to help maintain the two necessary conditions for successful action. A coach will also remind people of the “game plan” (rehabilitation plan) and even adjust the plan to meet changing needs and circumstances. The goal of the action stage is to sustain successful behavior change for a long enough period of time for the person making change to gain some feelings of stability. Once the person has gained some resiliency and self –efficacy they will then move on to the maintenance stage of change.
As the saying goes “getting there is only half the battle.” The maintenance stage is another period where the individual needs to learn new coping methods. Two factors have been identified as fundamental to successful maintenance: sustained, long term effort, and revised lifestyle. Revised Lifestyle is the key factor identifier of the maintenance stage of change. Negative thoughts have to be replaced with positive thoughts; problematic conditions need to be replaced with non-problematic ones. These substitutions promote growth and the development of holistic lifestyle changes- changes that may ultimately become the norm and totally replace the old addiction.
The termination stage has been described as the ultimate goal for changers. A person who has reduced his level of alcohol consumption to regular involvement, with no associated harms for 10 years, but still avoids an annual fishing trip with his buddies because he is not certain he can resist binge drinking in that situation, has successfully changed, and remains in maintenance.
Research and clinical experience indicate there are four defining criteria between lifetime maintenance and the termination stage:
A new self-image
No temptation in any situation
Solid self confidence
A healthier lifestyle
When individuals reach the termination stage they are no longer actively involved in changing or maintaining changes around that old behavior. Their work in that area is over and they may look to new challenges and changes.
Always Monitor Change
It is always important to monitor change because work is still necessary in your recovery. Remember that ongoing monitoring of actions and progress/regress is necessary for success. Speak to your coach or councilor about an aftercare plan or methods for self-monitoring.