“Life Does Not Get better by Chance, it Gets Better by Change”

This inspirational quote by American Entrepreneur and Motivational Speaker Jim Rohn has gained popularity across Facebook and other social media. Rohn also wisely commented that no one can make a new beginning, but through change, it’s always possible to create a new ending or outcome.

"Without change, nothing changes". This is especially true for people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or those who engage in compulsive behaviors such as gambling, shopping, working or pornography.

Many people believe that addicts can’t get better until they make a conscious decision to change, and that individuals won’t stop drinking or using drugs until they truly want to stop. The truth is that despite what they may say, addicts rarely can stop, and they are often unwilling to seek treatment, even when their lives depend on it. Sometimes, addicts recognize their addiction is creating huge problems in their lives, but they are unwilling to make real, concrete changes. Instead, they wait and hope for an easy solution or a “magic bullet” that will never occur. It’s extremely difficult for an addicted person to maintain long-term abstinence without help. Many addicts try and stop their behavior on their own, thinking that willpower will be the solution.

This isn’t because the addict is a bad person, and the problem has absolutely nothing to do with lack of willpower, laziness, or poor character. Addiction is a progressive, chronic disease that gradually hijacks the brain and induces changes in mood, memory, learning, decision-making and other behavior. Addicts aren’t always rational and they will go to great lengths to justify their actions and postpone treatment as long as possible.

However, once an addicted person enters treatment, even unwillingly, they are often able to engage successfully in therapy and become motivated to make positive changes and sustain healthy habits. However, waiting for an addicted person to make changes willingly can be a mistake, because it’s highly unlikely that the individual will agree to seek help – or even admit that treatment is necessary.

Waiting for an addicted individual to willingly seek treatment is often valuable time lost. Addiction intensifies as tolerance develops and the person requires more of the substance or destructive behavior to attain the same “high.” The longer an addiction is allowed to continue, the higher the probability of dire consequences, including lost jobs, broken relationships, criminal activity, legal problems, imprisonment, accidents, illness, suicide and accidental death.

There are many ways an addicted person may be pressured to enter treatment. For example:

  • Strict boundaries or pressure imposed by spouses or other family members, including ultimatums or threats of separation or divorce, may prompt a person to enter treatment.
  • Carefully planned interventions, which can be highly successful at breaking through a thick wall of denial, are sometimes the factor that prompts a person to enter treatment.
  • Similarly, ultimatums by an employer may coerce a person to seek treatment. For adolescents, school personnel or parents are often the driving factor.
  • Many people are required to seek treatment after they run into trouble with the law. Court-mandated treatment is often successful.

Forcing an unwilling person to enter treatment will likely be met with resistance and anger, and it’s important to remember that change may not happen quickly. However, breaking through addiction – no matter what it takes – can be an act of great compassion and can be a powerful means of creating change.

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