Six Principles of Change
- The belief that you can change is the key to change. This is not the powerlessness message of the 12 steps but rather the message of self-efficacy. Addictions are really no different from other behaviors—believing you can change encourages commitment to the process and enhances the likelihood of success.
- The type of treatment is less critical than the individual's commitment to change. People can select how they want to pursue change in line with their own values and preferences. They don't need to be told how to change.
- Brief treatments can change longstanding habits. It is not the duration of the treatment that allows people to change but rather its ability to inspire continued efforts in that direction.
- Life skills can be the key to licking addiction. All addictions may not be equal; the community-reinforcement approach, with its emphasis on developing life skills, might be needed for those more severely debilitated by drugs and alcohol.
- Repeated efforts are critical to changing. People do not often get better instantly—it usually takes multiple efforts. Providing follow-up care allows people to maintain focus on their change goals. Eventually, they stand a good chance of achieving them.
- Improvement, without abstinence, counts. People do not usually succeed all at once. But they can show significant improvements; and all improvement should be accepted and rewarded. It is counterproductive to kick people out of therapy for failing to abstain. The therapeutic approach of recognizing improvement in the absence of abstinence is called harm reduction.
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