Most people in recovery are extremely motivated to do whatever it takes to get sober, be healthier, get their life back, and feel better – at least at first. As treatment professionals, we desire to help you sustain or regain that strong desire to change your life. Sticking with something, however, is often much harder than starting something. Sometimes “I’ll do whatever it takes,” becomes “how little can I do and still get by?”
What is Motivation?
Motivation is the reason a person acts a certain way. It implies there is an underlying reason for everything we do. According to that simple definition, staying motivated to remain sober and get healthy should be as simple as remembering the reason you are doing all this work in the first place.
What the definition does not factor in are the many other, subconscious, subliminal, environmental, habitual, and social motivations competing with your primary motivation to stay sober.
External Support to Stay in Recovery
Recovering addicts are often extremely motivated as they enter treatment. This is made easier by the intense scrutiny and support you may be receiving while you enter treatment. You may have probation officers, drug and alcohol counselors, mental health counselors, family members, sober friends, an AA sponsor, and fellow clients, all watching your progress and encouraging your efforts. The limiting and structured nature of a new environment is also helpful. In treatment, you have less access to alcohol, drugs, money, and using friends.
These are wonderful external sources of motivation. It is, however, absolutely critical the majority of your motivation comes not from sources outside yourself, but from resources from inside you.
To keep your motivation to get and remain healthy at the forefront of your mind is essential in establishing and maintaining long-term recovery. Consider the following common character and internal motivations to stay sober:
- Get my health back
- Save money
- Restore damaged relationships
- Raise my children
- Not feel out of control
- Be more focused on family relationships
- Be more emotionally present
- Have more energy
- Be more responsive to others and their needs
- Look and feel better
- Live with integrity
- Be honest
- Living according to my values
- Become proud of who I am, how I live, and how others see me
- Worry less
- Restore trust with friends and family
- Manage my mental health
- Become a person filled with gratitude
- Live like I said I would
- Feel better spiritually
- Feel more confident
- Be responsible physically, sexually, and emotionally
- Be confident of my decisions and actions
- Become an inspiration to someone
Choose and Commit
As you examine the list above, perhaps you selected several of those internal motivators that are important to you. Find a way to commit them to memory and review them often. Keep your list in a prominent place in your home and review it often. You may find visual reminders of your primary motivators as well, such as a picture of the children you are committed to raise. You’ll make changes in your life, not because you are forced to make them, but because you choose these changes and are committed to them.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!