Emotional Health

Are You Worried About Your Drinking?

Another type of intervention is called Motivation Enhancement Therapy (MET). Everyone who wants to stop has ambivalences that must be worked through in order for the program to be successful. Not everyone is at the same place in terms of  goals or insight when they begin questioning their using. MET has identified 5 major “stages of change:”

1. Precontemplation

The costs of the problem behavior (such as drug use) are not yet recognized. Individuals are in denial and not seriously considering changing their behavior. They may have made previous attempts to change, but have since given up.

2. Contemplation

The individuals are experiencing ambivalence about change. They can see reasons to change their behavior, but they are still hesitant. The problem behavior continues.

3. Preparation

Individuals have decided to change their behavior, and they begin to think about how to do so. During this stage they will begin to make minor changes to support their goal, but they might not have completely ended the unwanted behavior.

4. Action

Significant steps are taken to end the problem behavior. The individual might be avoiding triggers, reaching out for help, or taking other steps to avoid temptation.

5. Maintenance

The changes made during the action stage are maintained. The individual may continue to face challenges, but at this point has successfully changed the behavior for a significant period of time.

A final, crucial, step is relapse prevention. Addiction remains very hard to treat, despite the advances that have been made with new strategies. Drug and alcohol rehab statistics show that the percentage of people who will relapse after a period of recovery ranges from 50 percent to 90 percent. While some use this discouraging statistic as justification to carry on with their addiction, the benefits that come from reducing or eliminating abuse cannot be overstated. Even more compelling, the dangers to physical, mental, social, vocational, and financial (and even legal) health are undeniable, and often devastating. If you or someone you know abuses alcohol, consider taking steps to promote changing this behavior to avoid the many consequences that can result.

 

References and Suggested Reading

Ketcham, K., and Asbury, W. (2000). Beyond the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism.

Khantzian, et al. (1990). Addiction and the Vulnerable Self: Modified Dynamic Group Therapy for Substance Abusers.

Knapp, Carolyn. (1997). Drinking, a Love Story.

(A moving first-person account, by a very talented writer, about her struggles overcoming alcoholism).

Robertson, Nan. (1988). Getting Better: Inside Alcoholics Anonymous.

(An account of her personal story and a compelling history of AA by a Pulitzer-Prize winner and New York Times writer).

Tatarsky, Andrew. (2002). Harm Reduction Psychotherapy.

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