Are You Worth It?
By Randall Smith, LCDC, Senior Counselor at Austin Recovery
There is often a question repeated, “What does it take to be successful in treatment?” The frustrating response is always, “It depends.” There is not a silver bullet that will slay the werewolf. There are many factors that are involved that require an equal amount of importance.
The foundation for treatment is understanding that it is a life change. This of course sounds simple, as life was chaos and it was painful in addiction. So who would not want to change this way of living? Imagine giving up your best friend. That is the first change that is asked for in treatment. Giving up the best coping skill that has been used. This also means giving up all the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are associated with this coping skill. This is not an easy effort as when a client comes to treatment, they are without their best coping skill and they are thrown into having to deal with years of avoidance of so many painful moments, with a cognitive deficit caused by drug and alcohol use. Imagine life without any stress relief, and this will give a glimpse of the same condition that the client is facing.
The situation sounds dire, and it is, but it is not hopeless. The basis of understanding life without a healthy coping mechanism is that the client has told themselves for far too long that they are not “good enough” to go through life without an alteration of some sort. This is not just limited to drugs and alcohol that affect the mind, but think of other drugs and of other coping mechanisms. Mechanisms such as cheating in sports through steroids or HgH, porn addiction, gambling and thinking that one big win will solve everything. These hopes are often dashed just to return to the wish of a magical solution. The problem is the cognitive dissonance that exists between the view a client perceives of themselves and the actual ability that each client possess. For anyone who has substance related or other compulsive behaviors in their family they already know this and this knowledge is part of the frustration. The family always knows the talents and capabilities of the client and even more so than the client.
The client may know too, but this is still a factor, as a client who knows what talents, skills and abilities that have, but have not yet “done anything” with them, may further plunge into negative emotions with a further need for maladaptive coping. There are a multitude of factors that can be explored. What this all comes down to is people use these maladaptive coping skills because they work. Until the client finds a new method of healthy coping it will not change.
Change is not easy, but it has a starting point. This starting point is understanding self-worth. Self-worth is different from self-esteem. Self-esteem is a short term measure that tells a person how they are feeling in the moment. Self-worth is the measure of a person’s value of self in all situations. This is where the clients learn about who they really are, not from what drugs made them into or what someone told them they were. The first and most important lesson a client should take pride in and add to their self-worth is that they are a survivor. Drugs and alcohol kill, destroy, and cause pain. They cause more pain than most can dream of handling. An addict knows this, has lived through the worst of this, and still has hope for change that has not been extinguished. Second, someone still believes in them. Many people come in with broken relationships and families that simply cannot take anymore. But someone still believes in them and their worth. Even if it is the counselor, someone still sees the value. In time many relationships are healed, but change has to have a starting point.
If that was not enough, here is one of the most important thoughts to consider. The future is not written yet. Whatever a client was, whatever they did, whatever label they had, any and all of it, it doesn’t compare to what is ahead. What matters is starting today anyone can be a whole new person. The labels can change in an instant to the labels: father, mother, husband, wife, brother, sister, friend, sponsor, and the list can go on. It just takes an answer to a few questions and to a few brave responses. First, these labels that a client wants, what characterizes them and are is the client willing to change behaviors accordingly. If a person wants to be known as generous, are they giving? The actions fit the label.
Here is the most important question. “Am I worth the change?” If the client does not know this answer, then here is the answer, yes you are. This goes to answer the questions of “should I go to treatment?” Then the answer is “Yes, you are worth it?”
“Should I let others help?”
“Yes, you are worth it.”
The questions that keep you away all have the same answer. Yes you are worth it. If you don’t know this yet, find a place that will help you get to know the real you because, well, I hope you know this by now…