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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Subtracting to Add

Joan Zweben, PhD, in her presentation at Herrick Hospital Grand Rounds, offered some suggestions for folks with substance abuse problems to try and, in addition, some information about treatment outcome findings.

1.  First, ask yourself if you are concerned about your drinking (or street drug use, or prescription drug use).  And in what ways is it a problem to you.
2.  Reflect on when life was actually going well and what is different now.
3.  Look for a role model, someone who's living a good, gratifying life, sober.
4.  Try "sobriety sampling".  Do experiments with abstinence:  Subtract something out (assuming you are using several substances) and see what changes-in you or in how your life goes.  Keep a log of what you didn't use and what happened.
5.  Find an empathetic therapist with whom you feel free to discuss both the pros and cons of continuing your current use of chemicals, unchanged.  It should be a collaborative effort.

~It is known that, even after long abstinence, recurrence  can occur.
~The longer people stay in treatment, the better they do.
~High anxiety will precipitate relapse.  (Work with a therapist on handling your anxiety.)
~If you use any drug, even if it's not the 'drug of choice', it elevates relapse risk.
~You have to be stable in recovery from the addiction, before you can work in therapy on trauma.
~The two-pronged enhancement  for maintaining change is,---A process for personal development that is without financial constraints, and, A support community---this is best found in 12-Step Programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.

Dr Zweben's Stages of change are:
`Pre-contemplation (unaware of the source of the problems in their life)
`Contemplation  (considering the possibilities of what to do)
`Reparation (making small changes)
`Action  (full-hearted commitment to change)
`Maintenance  (lifestyle changes to support sustained recovery)

If this is an issue for you, there is much reason for optimism.  Many people have managed to shift their formerly destructive relationship with a mind-altering substance and to discover a satisfying life in recovery.  Much has been learned about addiction; the success formulas are available.

Other posts related to this topic are:  Addiction,
When Firewater Causes Conflagration, and
No Denial Here

So far (5/2012), this post has been received an incredible 672 visits---and counting.  Do you have any comments or questions about addiction, alcoholism, drug abuse, anything related?

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