How to Get Motivated to Get Clean
Whether it is with drugs or alcohol, substance use can result in a variety of negative health, social, and financial consequences. For most addictive behaviors, an internal battle rages inside the addict’s brain, with a part of them craving the substance and another part attempting to fight off those thirsts. Over time, as the defenses are worn away and willpower sapped, the voice of opposition grows weaker and weaker. Eventually, many simply surrender to their feelings of hopeless despair and entrapment.
Getting clean may seem an insurmountable achievement, but it’s not. You do not have to be a slave to your addiction. You can find freedom, but it requires a fighting spirit and a willingness to struggle and fail repeatedly. The road towards sober living is not an easy path, but it is achievable. Finding the willpower to attain sobriety and persevere in abstinence from alcohol or drugs is one of the first crucial steps you can take.
Admit You Have A Problem
Many users tend to think that they have their substance use under control. They might admit that, perhaps they go overboard at times, but they may actually believe that they could stop if they wanted to. Some people compare themselves to more severe cases and make excuses on how they are nowhere near as far gone. Whatever your story, it is important to be honest with yourself and take a good look at your own life. Comparisons or excuses only result in self-justification.
If you have to seriously question whether or not you are an addict, odds are, you are. However, instead of asking yourself that question, answer the following:
- Are you currently happy with the life you are living?
- Are you living your best life?
- Are you maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Are you in shape? Overweight?
- Do alcohol or drugs prevent you from attaining your dreams?
- Do you like who you are when you use?
- Do others like who you are when you use?
- Picture five years from now, would you be proud of yourself if you were still consuming substances in the same way?
After you have answered your questions, perform a simple cost-benefit analysis exercise to help you see the results of your substance use. The steps are simple:
- Find a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.
- Write “benefits,” in the left-hand columns; write “costs” in the right-hand column
- Fill out both columns, write down everything your substance has gained and lost you.
Begin with introspection. Look inward and be brutally honest. Consider not only how your substance abuse affects you, but those around you as well. Once you’ve finished, you will likely see that there is very little good that resulted from your substance abuse. Keep this paper with you as a reminder and motivator.
Consider Why You Should Get Clean
While long-term benefits such as health and well-being are solid motivators, humans tend to be shorter-sighted and it often takes more immediate instigators to get the ball rolling. Consider the following reasons to get clean:
- Your bank account – It is all too easy to ignore the financial costs of your habit if you refuse to look at it. However, by doing some simple math, you can clearly see how much money you have wasted on your various substances.
- Give a conservative estimate about how much you spend on your substance each week.
- Multiply that by 52 weeks.
- Multiply that by the number of years you have been using.
- Study that number for a long time and list all of the things you could do with that sum of money if it were sitting in your account.
This figure should hurt you. It represents the thousands of dollars you could and should have to spend on family members, trips, meals, and wonderful experiences.
- Your time bank – Similar to your bank account, consider how much time you have wasted on pursuing your substance abuse or recovering from it.
- If you drink too much alcohol or do drugs four times a week, that is likely at least 3-4 hours of lost time, or time that was less productive because of your intoxication.
- Multiply that by 52 weeks.
- In a single year, you may have lost over a month’s worth of time that could be better spent or utilized.
- Your sleep – Drug use tends to throw off sleep patterns and cycles. A lack of healthy sleep magnifies the damage that substances can wreak on your body. As a result, you likely feel tired, short-tempered, and out of sorts on most occasions. Sobriety, especially from alcohol, will substantially improve your sleep quality, which in turn affects your energy levels, motivation, and moods.
- Your Relationships – There is a saying that goes, “Addicts don’t have relationships; they take hostages.” Odds are, your substance abuse has caused drama, arguments, and rifts between you and the people you love. You may have broken their trust or said or done something that you deeply regret. If you get clean, you have a chance to rebuild those bridges, mend those fences, and earn back their trust. Once sober, you can again form deep and lasting relationships built on honesty.
- Your Responsibilities – Addiction typically involves a neglect of your duties, whether it be social, work, or home life obligations. If you are sober, people will be happy to be able to rely on you once more, rather than having to always worry about you or feel let down by your selfishness. Although our duties can be stressful, they give us a sense of purpose and satisfaction, especially when the job is well done. Having people trust and depend on you again will shift how you feel about yourself.
- Your Dreams – All too often, substance abuse is the ultimate wrecker of dreams. Your career, hobby, plans, and love life often get tossed by the wayside in the wake of drug or alcohol addiction. A return to sober living gives you an opportunity to once more pursue the things that gave you joy. Instead of wallowing and feeling sorry for yourself, you can now take action in pursuit of your goals.
- Your Joy – Once you get clean, you won’t live life in a haze. You will experience your day more clearly. Your body will feel great, your mind won’t be sluggish or crippled. You will feel normal again, back in control for the first time in a while.
Make Sobriety Your Priority
If you want to get clean, you have to commit to it 100%; you have to give it your all and make it the sole priority in your life. A half commitment will likely result in failure. Set rules and stick to them. Ways to do this include:
- Ditch your friends who still use – Whether it is drinking buddies or friends you hung out with to get high, the first step you have to take is telling them that you can no longer participate in those activities or be around them when they do. While it may seem like an overreaction, peer pressure is one of the biggest causes for a person to relapse or face temptation. You want friends who build you up, rather than people who drag you down. If you wish to stay motivated in your sobriety, you need to avoid needless temptation.
- Let people know you want to be sober – If you’re going to remain determined, you must surround yourself with people who can hold you accountable. By being honest and sharing with others that you are pursuing sobriety, you bring them into your corner. A 2002 study confirmed that “The support of peers, family, and friends was also cited as an important factor in recovery, replicating findings from a handful of studies of long-term recovery (e.g., Margolis, et al., 2000; Rychtarik et al., 1987).” As you can see, support from healthy relationships is critical during the recovery process.
- Create a list of things you are grateful for – Recovery can be a bumpy road, filled with both good times and bad. When times are hard, you will need to cling to the things in life that matter to you and that you are grateful for. These can be reminders or lifelines that you can turn to when you feel tempted to use or feel like giving up. By reviewing daily all of the things you are grateful for, you mentally hammer home your motivations for getting clean. Further, by always searching for the positives in your life, you can help prevent that victimhood mentality from taking hold once more.
- Set Goals You Can Accomplish – An easy way to get motivated is to set achievable goals for both the short-term and the long-term. By creating a list of objectives, you can track your progress and see what you have or haven’t yet completed. Tangible goals also give you something concrete to work towards instead of something big and open-ended such as “Staying sober” from drugs and alcohol. They give you an opportunity to strive, to push yourself, and to chart your personal growth.
- Consider keeping a journal, blog, or vlog. As time goes by, it is easy to forget the struggles or original reasons you had for getting clean from your drug addiction or alcohol abuse. These mediums are wonderful reminders and ways to track your progress. Further, if you wish to share, some of these mediums can be used to help inspire others in their sobriety.
Now that you have built up the motivation to get clean, you have to act on it. Steps you may want to take include:
- Check yourself into rehab – Drugs such as opiates, alcohol, and benzos can have severe, and sometimes fatal withdrawal symptoms. Whether you use an inpatient alcohol treatment or an outpatient rehab, if you have a severe case of substance abuse, you will want medical supervision when you detox. Although withdrawals can be extremely uncomfortable, it helps to think of them as reminders that your body is healing and ridding itself of its physical dependence.
Once the stabilization period of detox is over, it is crucial that you fully utilize the time you have there to learn about yourself, your stressors, triggers, and reasons why you turned to substance abuse. You have a fantastic opportunity to learn from medical professionals and fellow addicts. Do not let that time go to waste. Use it as your training grounds and armory for what lies ahead.
- Aftercare matters – It is critical that you connect with a recovery community once you have checked out of rehab. Today, there are dozens of support groups and chances for you to connect and interact with other people in recovery. There are traditional 12-step meetings, online communities, rehab alumni services, and a host of other aftercare tools at your disposal.
By staying connected, you ensure accountability and motivation. You also surround yourself with people who are struggling with the same things as you are, people who you can lean on when recovery becomes difficult and you feel tempted to relapse. A 2016 study found, “Perceived costs and benefits of abstinence were robust predictors of abstinence over the 18 month assessment period. Two social support factors interacted with perceived benefits to influence abstinence: 12-step involvement and number of persons in the social network.”
- Create Structure – Human beings yearn for structure in their life. Even if you do not have a job, setting a schedule of healthy activities for you to focus on can help to create a sense of order and purpose. It also prevents boredom and laziness, which can often result in turning to substances.
- Exercise daily
- Eat healthily
- Drink lots of water
- Go on walks, runs, hikes, or bike rides
- Read books
- Set meetings with friends or loved ones
- Set a sleep schedule and stick to it
- Get Involved – Community service or charity are fantastic ways to live beyond yourself, your needs, your wants, and your urges. By serving those less fortunate or making an impact in your community, you can see just how good your life is and all that you have to be grateful for. Get involved with a church, an animal shelter, the Salvation Army, or a retirement home. Whatever you decide on, volunteering is a fantastic motivator for staying clean.
You Can Do It
While it may seem like an uphill battle, getting clean is not an impossible objective. With the proper motivation, you can summit that mountain. A sober life free of alcohol and drug addiction will provide countless benefits to your health, future, and relationships.
A 2010 study concluded, “participants reported higher benefits than costs of sobriety or cutting down substance use at every study time point.” Take the time to perform a cost-benefit analysis on your own and you’ll readily agree with their results.
So, if you have any questions regarding relapse prevention or need assistance in finding an addiction treatment center near you, reach out to our counselors at Beach House Recovery today. Our Florida rehab center will help you get started on your road towards sobriety.
- Laudet, A. (2002). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Pathways to Long-Term Recovery: A Preliminary Investigation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/
- Korcha, R. (2016). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Interaction of Motivation and Social Support on Abstinence among Recovery Home Residents. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908964/
- Polcin, D. (2010). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Substance use and motivation: a longitudinal perspective. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056520/