Do I need to make a change?
Welcome back to part 2 of this guide. If this is the first time you’re stopping in, feel free to revisit part 1 of this guide and come back to continue with part 2. Here at LMV Counseling we believe that counseling is a collaborative process. You set the goals and we help give you the tools to evaluate decisions. Often people have described individual therapy as untangling the web of confusion in their head to help make sense of changes they’d like to make.
At some point, we all ask ourselves if we need to make a change. This is completely up to you. This guide and these tools are for you to use. We will walk you through some questions to determine if you need to consider making a change.
Think about the substances you’ve used in the 3-6 months. Make a list of substances that you have had problems with or substances in which you’re thinking about changing your use. You might find that one substance caused more problems than another. For example, common issues can be hangovers, arguments with family or friends, health problems- like not sleeping well and feeling anxious or depressed. This section is for self-reflection. First take into consideration your own thoughts and experiences. Depending on the substance people may find that the substance caused gaps in their memory or make it more difficult to concentrate at work or school.
Second, consider what others have said about your substance use. Again, this is for any of the substances you identified above. Often times our loved ones have expressed concern or frustration over your use. For example, nicotine users often hear how harmful nicotine is to them and others around them. This doesn’t mean that the person who using nicotine is going to stop, but it is something to take into consideration. If someone else has said anything about problems due to your substance use, these might need to be added to your ‘Problem’ list even if you don’t agree with them.
Whether or not you came up with any problems…the choices are yours: you can continue on as you are or you can cut down or stop your substance use. It’s up to you. Of course, whatever you do will have benefits and consequences. Check out this graph below to help you determine whether it’s worth making changes to your substance use.
Benefits vs Consequences
You’ll notice that the chart below include benefits and consequences. Yes, there are benefits to using drugs and alcohol! Many people don’t like to talk about these out loud but there’s a reason why you continue to use. These are the benefits that you perceive. For example, often times people cite marijuana use as a way to relax. This is absolutely a benefit to the person using marijuana. Who wouldn’t want to relax? It’s important to note these benefits for yourself. Should you determine that you’d like to cut down on the substance you’ll need to find other ways to accomplish the benefits that you received with substances before. Additionally, many people question the benefits to people important to me. People around us can also benefit from our use. For example, if you and your friends drink alcohol they may benefit from your use by enjoying your increased sense of humor and joining together in celebration. Try to be honest with yourself with the chart below. No pressure- you’re just taking a look to see if making a change to your use is worth it to you or not. There’s also an example chart below to give you some ideas.
|If I keep using (insert substance)||If I stop using (insert substance)|
|Benefits to me|
|Benefits to people important to me|
|Consequences to me|
|Consequences to people important to me|
Here’s an example:
|If I keep using marijuana||If I stop using marijuana|
|Benefits to me||I get to relax after work, helps with my anxiety and sleep||I’ll save money|
|Benefits to people important to me||Helps me chill with my friends, everyone else smokes||My spouse won’t be angry with me anymore|
|Consequences to me||I won’t lose weight since I eat when I’m high, spending money on weed||I’ll have more anxiety and I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep|
|Consequences to people important to me||Problems with my spouse||Won’t fit in when my friends start smoking|
LMV Counseling offers substance abuse counseling and addiction counseling in Wilmington, NC. We have a team of addictions specialists ready to help you work through the changes you desire. Get started now.