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There is a profound difference between motivation and desperation when dealing with recovery. Many times when a person has decided to leave home and enter into a treatment program, they believe that they are highly motivated when in fact they are only deeply desperate to escape the pain and the suffering, that not only they, but also their loved ones, are experiencing. The overwhelming pain, worry, fear, guilt, shame, and frustration leads to either a clear understanding that there must be a “Change For Life”, or a deepening desperation that leads to an impulsive action but not a “real decision.”
This becomes apparent after the person has located a treatment program and then immediately begins to have serious second thoughts. However the person, who is sincerely motivated, even if they do have second thoughts, will usually not have an overwhelming ambivalence about leaving home and entering into a treatment program. It is a desperate person who will seek any avenue of escape to avoid this needed treatment obligation.
The motivated person recognizes that they have a responsibility and an obligation to address their addiction issues, or they clearly understand the serious potential consequences of allowing their condition to continue to go untreated. Likewise, they understand that they have made the decision and know that they have to maintain the discipline and perseverance to achieve specific goals and objectives that will enable them to have a successful “Change for Life.”

The unmotivated person, who believes that they are motivated, will in fact become highly resistant either before they leave for treatment or shortly after arriving. The reason for their ambivalence is the fact that they were struggling to make a decision that was based on suffering rather than awareness and insight. The unmotivated person, who in reality is just overwhelmingly desperate to escape pain and suffering, fails to demonstrate determination, perseverance, discipline or willingness to accept or tolerate the changes that they immediately will experience upon making the decision to leave home.

Gerard J. Egan, LMHC, CAP
Program Director
Palm Partners Treatment Center

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