The Importance of Behavioral Modification Programs for Addiction Recovery
Mistakes are inevitable. You fall down, you get back up, and you look back at the obstacle that made you stumble. Maybe there was no obstacle; it was just your own instability that made you trip and fall.
But whatever the reason for past difficulties, you always strive to do better moving forward. You don’t want to keep making the same mistakes over and over, so you adjust your movement, your decisions, and your trajectory. In essence, you are training yourself to modify your behavior to produce better results than you experienced in the past.
Behavior modification is like making a promise to yourself. We have all uttered those fateful words: I swear, I’ll never do that again. But do we always stick to our vow? Instead of just declaring that you are turning a new leaf, you should create a plan of action. Holding yourself accountable helps to ensure that your overall pattern of activity changes, not just your short-term plans.
What Is Behavior Modification?
In its simplest terms, behavior modification is training the brain to seek out positive experiences rather than negative ones. As you raise a child, for example, you want to reward your youngster for cleaning his or her room and withhold those rewards if he or she throws a tantrum.
But behavior modification becomes more complex when you are an adult. Nobody is in charge of your life but yourself, so you need to provide your own system of incentives. Perhaps you allow yourself to go on vacation after you finally earn that raise that you have worked so hard to secure. Or you indulge with a dessert if you reach certain fitness benchmarks as a reward to yourself.
After all, living well is the ultimate positive reinforcement.
Breaking Negative Patterns
In the realm of addiction recovery, behavior modification is essential in the pursuit of continued wellness and sobriety. When you were using, you may have rewarded yourself with the substance of your choice. The consequences were negative, but the initial experience was compelling. This represents a schism between need and desire. What you need is to maintain your sobriety, but what you want to is satiate your craving.
In order to address this polarizing dynamic within the brain, you must retrain it. Instead of seeking immediate gratification, you should recognize the deeper rewards associated with long-term recovery. For example, if you accomplish 30 days of sobriety, you should reward yourself with a horror movie marathon (if that suits your cinematic appetite). After six months of recovery, you may want to celebrate with a day at the beach with friends.
By replacing the “high” that substances provide with the clarity and contentment of sober experiences, you are modifying your behavior through a complex series of everyday incentives. This is known as contingency management. It is an element of cognitive behavioral therapy that transcends your recovery journey and ripples into your new sober living reality.
We Are Social Animals
Behavior does not exist in a vacuum. When we discuss behavior modification, you may picture an individual in a lab coat studying his actions in a mirror and taking notes, but the big picture is far more complex than that.
Our mannerisms echo out from the micro to the macro. Everything we do and say affects those around us. Hence, behavioral therapy must take societal factors into consideration.
As we always say here at Ethos, Community Is Our Method. By embracing your place in the greater community, you can more adequately adjust your behavior to be the citizen you want to be. We design addiction therapies to address more than just your individual actions, but also how those actions impact the people around you.
Substance use often has a societal component. You used to make a habit of meeting at the bar or partying with friends and you may feel a bit lost when those social interactions shift. Sober living is about more than just sobriety; it’s primarily about living. You crave connection and you can replace your substance-centric activities of the past with new, healthier pursuits.
Control Your Environment, Contain Your Addiction
A lifestyle change doesn’t simply happen overnight. It requires an evolution in your mindset, a commitment to your continued happiness, and a change of scenery. After all, you can’t surround yourself by the trappings of your former self and expect to grow and flourish.
Sober living is a dedication to the new you. Recovery is not just a weekend excursion or even a month-long “dry” spell. It is a path that leads to a stronger, healthier future.
Modifying your behavior has internal ramifications, but it also entails external stimuli. For example, a simple meal presents a menu of choices that define how you are approaching the everyday matter of sustenance. Do you grab a bite at a restaurant where you used to pair your dinner with a bottle of wine? Or do you gather with like-minded individuals who are co-pilots on your road to recovery?
The environment in which you live affects your behavior and vice versa. You could choose to put obstacles in your way, or you could ask for friends and family to help you clear your path. The experts at Ethos excel at crafting productive, supportive networks in which you may not merely survive, but thrive.
From group dinners to weekly meetings to team building exercises, Ethos is more than just a house; it’s a lifestyle. Our recovery community embraces the new you, and we support your efforts to shape your behavior to fit the person you are becoming.
We will be here for you for that 30-day horror movie marathon. We would love to join you for your six-month day-at-the-beach celebration. We do not put time limits on your evolution, but we will help you hold yourself accountable as the calendar pages flip gradually forward.
Contact Ethos and take control of your future.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.