Meth: Are you ready for change ?

Nov 26, 2021

Motivation to change is maximised when we have a clear reason and purpose to change, where we can envisage the consequences of changing or not changing. This article will help you assess your motivation for change and how it can happen.

Sometimes not changing does not seem like an option and we might say to ourself "I just have to do it". This tends to happen when when all denial has gone and  the  reality of not changing feels stark and real.

  • Perhaps your partner has said " I can't live with this anymore"
  • Perhaps you have a constant, gnawing anxiety that won't let go ?
  • Perhaps your life is just becoming generally unmanageable ?

The Wheel of Change assessment can help in assessing motivation to change.  There could be more than one change that you want to make. It is best to start with the one area of our life  where you feel the strongest, most impelling reason and purpose to change.

Here are the 6 stages of change on the Wheel of Change..

  1. Pre contemplation stage.  Tyrone has been using meth from time to time, he enjoys it,  his friends are doing it, he can party all night, it seems pretty harmless and he can afford it.  He can even do all nighters to catch up on office work that has been piling up. He has a friend who buys for him from a dealer. He has no reason to make any change.

2. Contemplation stage.  

Tyrone notices that he is increasingly anxious, he wakes up on edge as well. He's dealing directly with the meth supplier now.  Focus on work is becoming more difficult, organising his time is becoming more difficult.

Meth use is creeping up .. and when he does the numbers he is spending 10% of his income on meth. Ty's partner is noticing changes as Ty becomes more secretive, Ty's peer group is changing, he is less interested in his usual friends, activities, movies, music and often looks to be agitated, bored, distracted.

Ty notices that he is having frequent arguments with his partner, he feels more angry and frustrated with himself for financial problems, work problems and for not being the man he set out to be in life. He is not living within his own values system (e.g paying money for street drugs, not keeping healthy, not maintaining friendships, not being upwardly mobile in his career). Frustration, anger increase.

Often the person on the receiving end of this anger is Ty's partner. Ty's anxiety which had been steadily creeping up now spikes upward and sleep is increasingly broken and he begins to ruminate on how he can "keep his act together". Life is becoming an act.

Pretending that everything is ok, pretending to be interested when he's bored, pretending to be focused when he's distracted, juggling his finances to maintain his image and his constant lying is no longer working. It draining, exhausting.  

Life has become unmanageable. Tyrone is considering change. Pragmatically, the downside of meth use is beginning to outweigh any upside. Denial is crumbling but Ty's "internal addict" continues with variations of the following......

"You deserve it, you work hard, you can handle it, everyones doing it, you know you like it, you are boring without it"

The language of Contemplation stage includes "I could" OR "I might". Options are being contemplated. Change talk is beginning to be "heard" internally.

3. Decision stage.  Ty's partner finds Ty's bank statement.  Ty has been lying about his finances. The holiday to Europe now can't possibly happen. Ty has been summoned to HR at his workplace for a discussion about his performance. Trust becomes a huge issue in the relationship. Ty's partner has threatened to leave unless there is a commitment to change from him. Ty weighs it up. His denial was crumbling but this crisis can't be ducked or dodged. The balance has been tipped. Downside far outweighs upside. He has Decided to make changes and is ready for actions.

4. Action stage.  Tyrone commits to see a counsellor and makes an appointment.

Action needs a plan!

Tyrone puts together a S.M.A.R.T. plan with support from his counsellor to turn things around. (Every S.M.A.R.T. plan is tailored individually ... and this is an example.). Smart plans can be added to an edited pragmatically. The plan creates accountability to self and others. From consistent accountability trust can return.

S  = Specific.

  • Book a counsellor appointment with experience in working with substance abuse
  • Delete dealers number from your phone and block dealer and certain specified others who are unlikely to support your change
  • No cash withdrawals of more than $25-00 to be made from your accounts
  • Commitment to show your bank statements to a 3rd party every week
  • Weekly meeting with counsellor or 12 step meeting

M  =Measurable

All the specific actions above are measurable and verifiable

A  =Achievable

All of the above looks achievable. Ty agree's that it is.

R  =Relevant / Realistic

All the above specified actions are Realistic for Tyrone because there are no barriers to actioning any of them. They are definitely Relevant because if he cannot access large amounts of cash he cannot keep buying the Meth, MDMA, Cocaine etc.

He can show his banks statements to a trusted 3rd party. Relevant and Realistic!

T  =Timely

  • A specific plan must have a time component to be useful
  • A time and a date to call the counsellor ( "next week" or "before  Christmas" is not good enough)
  • A time frequency of going to counselling or 12 step meetings
  • A time span to have an agreement in place (e.g you could specify having a 3rd party oversee your finances for 2 months then to review)

A crucial part of a SMART plan is to include new meaningful and enjoyable activities and commitments to be with people who are good for your recovery. These can can be written into the plan. Moving on from addiction or problematic use is far easier if you can always choose from a menu of alternative possibilities when you are craving. You counsellor can help you explore the options.

5. Maintenance stage is when your Action plan is being maintained. New activities are bedding in. Enjoyment of many previous (previous to meth) activities is returning. Increasing periods of connection, calmness and creativity. You have increasing trust in yourself and others trust you more as well. You are living life according to your own personal values again. You have learned new ways of coping with pressure.

6. Relapse stage is the final stage and is something that can be avoided if you "know the enemy"

Your "internal addict" (You can give it your own name) will hugely resent any orientation away from opportunities to use to more structured time.  Rules will be resisted, resented, rebelled against.  The same sales pitch will emerge but the volume will tend to go up for a period.

"You deserve it, you work hard, you can handle it, everyones doing it, you know you like it, you are boring without it"

The internal addict will be in charge when you for example ......................

  • Find yourself carrying much more cash than you need
  • When you are lying about something dodgy
  • Planning to go to an event where there will be a lot of drug use going on
  • When you phoning / visiting people you know are much more interested in relating to your "internal addict" than your "inner wise self"
  • When you keep all options open and when you resist firm commitment to be at certain places at certain times. (Friends, activities, events). The internal addict will want to to be able to drop everything at any time if there is a possibility or opportunity for you to get out of integrity and use.

The language of change summary

  1. Pre contemplation stage .. What problem ?, theres no problem. ( feeling complacent)

2.  Contemplation stage ..I might change, I could change. (feeling, worried anxious)

3.  Decision stage ..I will change, I want to change, I can change, I  have to        change. (feeling determined, decisive)

4.  Action stage .. I'm doing it, I'm sticking to the my plan (feeling energised, determined)

5.  Maintenance stage I am maintaining it (feeling pride, empowerment,         confidence)

6. Relapse. If you relapse it is not a sign to give up. Learn from what didn't work, modify your SMART plan. Start again at the stage that fits for you.  Guilt will only disempower you. Guilt is useless and undermines motivation. A relapse means  mistakes were made, nothing more nothing less. Identify the mistake and learn from it, modify the plan.

Often it is very beneficial to talk to a counsellor or a trusted friend in order to explore all the thoughts, feelings, beliefs  and priorities you have around making change a habit.  

The odds are stacked against you changing if you try to do it without any support or accountability. With support you maximise chances of success.

Are you ready to change ? What would be the very first step that you could take, as evidence to yourself, that you are serious ?

Forward any questions or comments you may have. Link below.

These two other articles  of mine below  relate directly to this one.

Martin Fraser, B.A. (Hons) Psyc. Dip Counselling.

Particular interest in enhancing resilience in my community against Depression, Anxiety, Isolation and Addictions. Member of NZ Assoc Counsellors.

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