Motivation plays a big role in our choices and behavior. For instance, human beings have biological needs which produce an internal condition of tension that orients an individual toward a specific behavior or goal.
Typically, biological needs drive us to action. We are motivated or driven to reduce our needs and stay alive.
But we more than just biological needs; we have emotional and psychological needs as well. For instance, the researcher Harry Harlow helped prove that there is more to motivation that just satisfying our biological drives.
Using monkeys in his experiments, he proved that a loving, comforting touch motivated monkeys more than hunger or thirst. His research greatly impacted the adoption process and stressed the importance of placing children with parents that can provide contact comfort as quickly as possible.
And then we also have the need for affiliation, achievement, and power. These will also drive us to make certain choices and behave in certain ways. Lastly, our behavior is also influenced by incentives. If we want more money in our lives, then we will spend time looking for a job.
But most theorists see motivation as a result of both the “push” of an internal need or drive and the “pull” of an external rewarding stimulus. For example, someone might be hungry (internal drive) but choose to satisfy that drive with a candy bar or a celery stick. Depending on the beliefs, values, and importance of health of that person, his or her choice will vary.
The Influence of Motivation
What does all this have to do with drug addiction help and sobriety? Well, certain types of motivation are going to influence the ability to stay sober and to participate in drug treatment. For instance, there’s intrinsic motivation, which is the internal drive to change.
Compare that to extrinsic motivation, which is the desire to change because of something outside of you, like legal obligations or marital demands. In order to overcome an addiction, that intrinsic motivation needs to be strong to counter the dependency that will drive you to drink or use drugs.
As long as there is ambivalence, the desire to change will be countered by a desire to drink. Yet, when the intrinsic motivation is strong enough that’s when change will happen.
A very important question to ask yourself before or during drug abuse help is not so much “are you ready to change?” but “are you determined to change?”
Because it’s the internal motivation that needs to be strong to stay sober. Sure, having support around you can facilitate and strengthen that intrinsic motivation.
Drug Abuse Help is About More Than Just Drugs
In fact, drug abuse help and treatment often includes an exploration of ambivalence, hoping to elicit the intrinsic desire to change your life. It explores whether an addiction began, for instance, as a way to self-medicate, and whether alcohol or another drug brought relief from emotional pain.
For instance, if underlying emotional issues, medical concerns, or any mental illnesses exist, then the desire to use drugs might continue until those issues are addressed. It’s easy for an individual to say he or she wants to change, but depression, anxiety, and other fundamental reasons might perpetuate drug use. And so, the problem of ambivalence could be greater than one might think.
In order to assess willingness and readiness to change, a form of therapy that is incredibly successful and often used towards the beginning of drug treatment is Motivational Interviewing. This form of therapy seeks to evoke your intrinsic desire to change.
Because recovering from an addiction is a path that only you can walk, the desire to change must come from within. All the therapeutic tools and medication might be available for you, but if you are not ready to let go of your addiction, then it will most likely remain a significant disturbance in your life.
There are many forms of motivation that drive our behavior and choices. However, it’s the intrinsic desire to change and get drug abuse help that will lead to long-term sobriety.
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