Choosing to go into an addiction treatment program is one of the most important, most difficult, and potentially most life-altering decisions you will ever make. Taking the first step towards treatment takes a lot of courage, and treatment itself takes dedication and hard work. The rewards of successful addiction treatment, however, make all the effort worthwhile.
But hard work is just one element of successful rehab. Another very important, oft-overlooked element is your mindset – the attitude you have regarding the treatment process, changing your life, and finally getting clean and sober. Your mindset can – and usually does – determine just how successful treatment will be for you.
If you begin treatment with the right mindset, you’ll be much more open to the process. A negative mindset creates resistance; you’ll be like a fish swimming upstream, fighting the current all the way. You may still reach your goal in the end, but you’ll spend a lot of energy pushing away the help being offered – and that can be exhausting!
Before we talk about the elements of a winning mindset, let’s look at the benefits of having one versus the consequences of not having one.
With a winning mindset towards addiction treatment you’ll be much more likely to:
- Complete your treatment program
- Follow through with aftercare
- Learn as much you can while you’re in treatment
- Make the necessary lifestyle changes to prevent relapse
- Take responsibility for the choices you make
- Stay clean and sober
With a negative mindset, however, you’ll be more likely to:
- Drop out of treatment prematurely
- Gain little, if anything, from treatment while you’re there
- Fall back into old bad habits
- Relapse once you leave rehab
- Blame others for your situation
- Alienate everyone who’s trying to help you and support you
The 4 Elements of a Winning Mindset
There are primarily 4 elements of a winning mindset when it comes to addiction treatment:
- You recognize your value as a person – that you deserve a better life
- You’re ready to make changes in your life
- You’re willing to take responsibility for your situation
- You’re able to imagine a worthwhile future
Let’s take a closer look at each one and why it’s so important…
You recognize your value as a person; that you deserve to be clean and sober
This mindset element can be especially challenging for an addict. After all, it’s difficult to feel like you’re a worthwhile person – someone who deserves a better life – if others have put you down because of your addiction. In fact, like most addicts, your self-esteem is probably pretty low. You may feel like a failure or loser because of your addiction.
That’s not uncommon. But here’s the important thing to remember: Your addiction doesn’t define you, and it doesn’t determine your worth!
When you recognize your value as a person – regardless of what anyone else says or believes about you – you’re much more likely to seek addiction treatment because you want to, rather than because others are pressuring you. Certainly there is nothing wrong with wanting to get clean for your children or your spouse, or in order to keep your job. However, those should be secondary motivators.
You see, when you enter treatment to please others or to get them to stop badgering you, you may end up resenting them – both while you’re in treatment and later on. That can make you resistant to the treatment process, as well as serve as a trigger for future relapse. The most powerful motivation should come from within – from knowing, deep down, that you deserve a better life.
A sense of self-worth will also help you stay clean and sober down the road. This is because one of the greatest triggers for relapse is low self-esteem. If you start entertaining painful thoughts of being a failure or a loser, it’s going to be very tempting to numb the pain by using again.
You’re ready to make changes in your life
It’s human nature to resist change. We tend to like what’s familiar and comfortable – even if it’s not all that great or not what we really want.
Change means we have to move into unfamiliar territory. And that is really scary for a lot of people – especially for addicts. After all, there’s a reason you started using in the first place, and it probably included the desire to escape from something unpleasant in your life. Facing the unknown – especially without your "crutch" – can feel very much like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.
Recovering from your addiction is going to be a huge change, and getting there will require changing many aspects of your life. These may include your friends, the places you frequent, your lifestyle habits, and possibly even your current residence or occupation. Addiction treatment won’t be very helpful if you go right back to the environment that led you there in the first place.
The more you can embrace the idea of making positive, empowering changes in your life, the more beneficial treatment will be.
You’re willing to take responsibility for your situation
Excuses and blame are common aspects of addiction. You may feel that others caused your situation – your parents, your spouse, the babysitter that molested you as a child, and so on. If it wasn’t for that person, or that event, you wouldn’t be an addict today. Unfortunately, that’s a "victim mindset" – and it will hinder you from making necessary changes in your life. It will also make you very vulnerable to relapsing.
The moment you decide to take full responsibility for the choices you have made – and for the direction you take from this point forward – everything will change. You’ll view your addiction differently, you’ll be more receptive to the treatment process, and you’ll be much more likely to stay clean and sober once you leave your addiction treatment program.
You’re able to imagine a worthwhile future
There have likely been times in your life when, because of your addiction, you couldn’t see a worthwhile future. You felt stuck and hopeless. The dreams you once had had faded into oblivion. Everything looked bleak. Perhaps it still does…
This element of a winning mindset is probably the most important one to have if you want to get through your addiction treatment program successfully. Without it, you’re very likely to fail.
You see, how you perceive the future determines the actions you take today. If you can’t see past tomorrow, or if you think a better life is simply out of reach, then you won’t be motivated to change or try something new. And, you’ll want to keep using in order to numb that painful sense of hopelessness.
The good news is that, no matter how bleak things may look today, you can have a bright tomorrow. Countless people just like you – people who once thought they had no future – recover from their addiction every day. And so can you. The sooner you can imagine a future that’s worthwhile, the more motivated you will be to work your treatment program and start moving towards that future – a future free from the chains of addiction.