Preparing to make a change
Preparation is an important first step on the road to recovery. Here are some strategies you can use, to help you get started.
If you would like some one-on-one support to help you prepare to manage your addiction, chat with one of our friendly counsellors online anytime. Our service is free, confidential and available 24/7. You can also chat to others with similar experiences on our forum.
Set a day
Set a day to start cutting down or to stop:
- Make a commitment to this day and stick to it.
- Let others who are supporting you know of this day—they can remind you and be there to help you keep on track.
- Get ready for this day by preparing your environment. Remove any remaining drugs, paraphernalia and if possible triggers associated with your addiction (e.g. dealer contact numbers) from your home, your phone, your car, and anywhere else that's been associated with using drugs or alcohol.
These things are triggers for your addiction, are likely to increase your cravings and will hold you back from your recovery.
Taming the inner voice
Do you ever hear the voice inside that tells you that change isn’t possible or won’t be worth making? Something like "life will be boring without alcohol or drugs" or "I'll put on weight"? Self-sabotage comes from this inner voice and this voice is fuelled by addiction.
Help reinforce your reasons for change – make a list of all the things you don't really like about using alcohol or drugs to remind yourself of why you wanted to change in the first place. You could try using our pocket guide to help you think through these reasons, and keep it in your wallet or purse so you can easily re-read it if you have cravings.
Make a list of the benefits of managing your addiction and read it to tame the inner voice and help you to stay committed. Focus on what cutting down or stopping alcohol or drug use can help you to achieve.
Consider keeping photos of people and things you care about close by, to maintain focus on the importance of stopping or cutting down.
Identify your risks
List every potential situation you can think of that could lead you down the path of alcohol or drugs again.
Situations could include:
- being with people who use lots of substances
- going to a party
- being offered alcohol or drugs
- feeling tired, bored, or angry
- feeling happy
- wanting to celebrate
- wanting to reward yourself
- having lots of money
- having no money
- having a craving
- putting on weight
- experiencing pain, and
- any other personal situation that may lead you to alcohol or drugs.
Make a coping plan for each risky situation
Good things to include in a coping plan are:
- things you can do yourself to take your mind off your addiction (e.g. going for a walk, listening to music)
- identifying people and social settings that can provide distraction or help (e.g. talking with a trusted family member or friend, attending a Men’s Shed)
- identifying health and welfare professionals you can ask for help (e.g. Counselling Online, telephone helplines, your GP)
- planning how to keep your environment safe (e.g. not inviting certain people over)
You might need some assistance with this, so you can always start a counselling session with us anytime to talk it through.
What can I do next?
Find out more about our other tools to help you make positive changes:
- It’s a good idea to plan how you will manage cravings or urges if they occur – read our section on managing cravings to get you started.
- If you feel that your alcohol or drug use are having a negative impact on your life, why not speak to one of our counsellors. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7!
- If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through Find support.