How Can a Person Stay Motivated With an Addiction?

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Answered by: Ashley, An Expert in the Living With Addiction Category
The most common reason addicts return to active addiction is that they run out of steam; they are simply not motivated any longer to maintain the responsibilities of everyday life. For addicts, it is not enough to give up substance abuse; you must work at building a successful life in recovery. Without motivation, you lack happiness. If you’re not happy, you will use again.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab, Asia, defines motivation as the “driving force that initiates, guides and maintains goal oriented behavior.” ( ) Furthermore, motivation is the mechanism by which humans attempt to avoid pain and maximize pleasure. In an addicted mind, long-lasting brain changes take place. Drugs hijack the brain resulting in the substance becoming the mind's top priority.

Motivation is not always rational because the brain is trapped in addiction. Misdirected motivation causes an individual to keep on using a substance even though it is causing them so much pain. To build a sustainable life away from addiction, you need to develop enough motivation to make this aspiration a reality.

Many people fall into this motivational gap trap. They simply cannot stay motivated with an addiction. It can happen for many reasons, but experts believe that many people's motivation drags because they are overeager when they first enter recovery. They are so focused on making a better life, right now, that they quickly run out of steam after a few months. When their high expectations for their new life are not met right away, they feel disillusionment and the urge to return to active addiction. Here are some tricks to use to make it over the hump and stay motivated with an addiction:


People think that giving up substances will make their life great right away. In reality, giving up drugs is only the start of the journey. There’s a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous that “recovery is a process and not an event”. Treat it like a process and nurture the progress along.


It sounds silly, but keeping a list of all the things in recovery that you are grateful for is a lifesaving tool to look back at when relapse comes a-knockin'.


The single most helpful piece of advice that many experts give is to force yourself to do whatever you are dreading for fifteen minutes. If you want to quit after fifteen minutes, quit, but you will most likely continue and finish the task. You should even set a timer and faithfully follow this rule every day.


One of the greatest threats to motivation is to shut down. You’ll lose all your enthusiasm and passion. Luckily, this is easily corrected. Take action, any action, just don’t sit around.


When using we’re usually motivated by externalities (fast cars, big houses, loads of money), but these things never last. Motivate by intrinsic things (love, friendships, passions), and you’re sure to feel happier and more comfortable in your recovery.

Recovery is a hard, grueling process. It might feel like you are moving a mountain, but it is possible to be motivated with an addiction. Remember to start anew every day and never, ever give up.

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