Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Changing for the Better...

Almost everyone wants a better life. However, in order to have a better life, Change is almost always involved. Everyone wants a better life but not everyone is willing to change. People may at times look for “magic answers” or hope to rely on luck or good fortune as the way to improve their life. Sometimes in substance use treatment, some individuals hope to continue on the same path without changing and simply hope that this time there will be no consequences related to substance use.

In order to get the most out of treatment, regardless of why someone may be there it is important to think and be honest. If you are in substance use treatment, ask yourself “Why am I really here” and “What am I really supposed to be changing?”

Changing for the better can be challenging but it is always rewarding. It is important to self-assess what you are willing to do in order to improve your life in the long term. Learning to assess your CHANGE INITIATIVE is a simple way to start measuring where you are honestly with regard to your capacity to change each day.

Free group therapy material on this topic:

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Just Do It (Already)

To get started: Consider some of the following scenarios –

Suzy has been on Methadone which has helped her tremendously with regard to staying away from heroin. However, when Suzy’s counselor challenged her by asking what else she is working on to get better, Suzy replied “I go to the Methadone clinic every morning first thing, isn’t that enough?”

Darrell has been staying away from substance use and when his counselor asked him what’s working, Darrell said that he goes to meetings every day. Darrell’s counselor commended his efforts but then asked him to talk some more about what has been going on at the meetings. Darrell responded by saying “Oh, I just go to the meetings, I don’t share or talk to anyone, I just show up, keep quiet, then leave as soon as its over”

Fred has been making progress as he has some time without using substances. Fred’s counselor asked Fred what has helped, and Fred talked about how he has a good job that has been keeping him busy as he is working regularly and making advancement in the company. Fred’s counselor was glad to hear Fred was doing well working but then followed up by asking if anything else is helping and Fred replied, ‘That’s pretty much it, I just stay busy working whenever I can, then I go to bed and get up and go to work again the next day, and that’s how it goes…”

What do all three of these stories have in common? Before answering, break it down:
What is positive about all these examples? 
(In each example, the person is doing something helpful)
What seems to be missing in all of these examples?

It is likely that you saw that in each example that each one of those people are doing something beneficial to help improve their situation and make progress. Suzy goes to the Methadone clinic, Darrell has his meetings, and Fred is working

Still, what is missing in all three examples is that in spite of what is going right in each case, that alone is not enough to sustain long term progress and prevent setbacks or relapse. Getting some daily structure is great, but much more is often needed to maintain positive change.

The long-term goal should be to avoid just “going through the motions”

What comes to mind when you think of the idea of “going through the motions”?

Can you think of what “going through the motions” could look like in your life personally?

Positive change is an ongoing process, not an event

What specifically does that mean to you personally?

What is involved in your process of positive change?

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Garden of Good Health

The Garden of Good Health – 
(An illustration about mental health and substance use treatment) 

Anyone who has taken care of a grassy lawn knows that weeds may grow at times. One quick way to get rid of the weeds is to mow the lawn really low so that you cannot see them anymore.

Group Question: This is a quick solution, but what almost always happens over time?

Yes, the weeds grow back with time and eventually they are back again. Therefore, the only way to really deal with the weeds is to pull them out by getting to the root. This may require more effort up front, but in the long term, the grass will grow much healthier when the time is taken to deal with the weeds properly.

Comparing this with mental health and substance use:  If a person has mental health or substance use issues, that person may attempt to conceal or ignore those issues temporarily (like cutting the lawn really short in the illustration) and it may work for a short time. However, in the long run, like the weeds in the illustration, mental health or substance issues that have not been properly taken care may grow back.

Neglecting your mental health or substance use issues may end up resulting in negative impact in other life areas including family, work, education, financial, physical health, etc. So, it really makes sense to be proactive and take care of these issues rather than ignore them.

Group Questions:

Does this make sense?

Has anyone ever seen or heard of a story where neglect of caring for mental health or substance use issues resulted in other life problems down the line (like in this story)?

When should someone seek help for a mental health or substance use problem?