Imagine you just won a million dollars. Maybe you struck it big in the lottery, or maybe the company you work for just got bought out and that was your cut. Maybe you sold some stocks. Anyway, you have a million extra dollars to your name now. What if, instead of spending it or investing it, though, you just let it sit there, and never claimed it? What if it wasn’t for any particular reason, and you didn’t have an ulterior motive for doing it? What if you just didn’t claim it?
Addiction treatment is a lot like that million dollars. It has the potential to change our lives, but it can’t do anything for us unless we take the steps to claim it. That doesn’t mean just deciding to get treatment either, or, in the case of outpatient treatment programs, merely deciding to show up. It means making a conscious effort to learn and grow through through therapy and activities, doing everything we can to practice implementing what we learn, and adjusting our attitude to one of positivity and action.
Are you saying treatment can only do so much for me?
Yes, and no! As The Big Book says, collaborative treatment is one of the only foolproof ways to get rid of our addiction for good, but the effectiveness of treatment stems entirely from how much effort we are willing to put into it. Recovery itself is a lifelong process, and initial treatment itself is a very small part of it. Still, simply attending treatment often isn’t enough, and, even if we do manage to beat our addiction while minimally participating, we run the risk of not fully fixing the problems that caused our substance use in the first place. Effort is paramount to any successful treatment, and The Big Book says as much: “Without a willing and persistent effort…, there can be little sobriety or contentment for us.”
So, how do we make the most out of treatment, and truly take advantage of all of the many benefits it has to offer? Besides effort, attitude is huge.
Effort and attitude
Let’s be honest. Before entering treatment, we often have very little, if any, reason to think about effort or attitude. We know that attitude and effort are both two very important ways of getting past our addiction and into a treatment center, but we balk because addiction, is, in fact, still in control of our mind. It typically takes a number of people– including family members, friends, and loved ones– to get us to take the plunge into addiction treatment. It’s normal to push what we know is right and necessary to the side when we’re dealing with an illness that literally changes the way we think.
Once in treatment, however, our mindset should start to shift, because, as The Big Book describes, “to get over drinking [or other addictions] will require a transformation of thought and attitude.”
We must realize that treatment, for all it’s worth, merely provides a platform for us to make our own discoveries about ourselves, and to uncover the spiritual maladies that drove us to continued substance use in the first place. Our therapists, peers, and mentors can help us with the strategies we need to do this, but it’s up to us to make the effort. Think about it: even the best physician in the world can’t help us if he or she doesn’t know what our problem is. In order to get the care we need, we have to first explain what’s going on to them, or, at the very least, open ourselves up for a diagnosis. Treatment is the same way! In order to get what we need out of it, our attitudes must reflect that we’re willing to put in the work that’s required!
How do I change my attitude, and put in the effort?
Just like with anything, an attitude change starts with the heart. As The Big Book states, “…it is an attitude which can only be changed by a deep and honest search of our motives and actions.” We have to ask ourselves: “Why are we here, in treatment? What do we hope to get out of it?” We all have a reason for addiction treatment, but sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that reason in order to keep going. No doubt, by going to treatment, we’ve made some sacrifices, committed ourselves to some significant life changes, and devoted ourselves to getting better. Remembering the steps we took to get to this point, and keeping them at the forefront of our minds whenever we’re feeling discouraged or not up to the challenge can make all the difference in adopting the right attitude! As for putting in the effort, having the right attitude helps take care of that. Once we’ve come to terms with the fact that the only people that can conquer our addiction is ourselves (and that treatment, like anything else, takes work), we’re inclined to put in the work we need to in order to see the results we want. Attitude, effort, and the effectiveness of our recovery are all inextricably intertwined!
Thrive Treatment is an outpatient addiction treatment center located in sunny Santa Monica, California. We’re here to help our clients make the most out of treatment and the rest of their lives by providing them with community, instruction, and support. Call us today at (888) 975-8474 to see what we can do for you!