Much of our behavior is driven by motivation. And this includes the motivation behind quitting the use of drugs or alcohol. But there are a few different types of motivation that might be motivating you to bring your addiction to an end. These can include:
Biological Needs – Human beings have biological needs which produce an internal condition of tension that orients them toward a specific behavior or goal. Typically, biological needs drive us to action. We are motivated or driven to reduce our needs and stay alive.
Emotional / Psychological Needs – Harry Harlow helped prove that there is more to motivation than just satisfying our biological drives. Using monkeys in his experiments, he proved that a loving, comforting touch motivated monkeys more than hunger or thirst. His research greatly impacted the adoption process and stressed the importance of placing children with parents that can provide contact and comfort as quickly as possible.
Needs for Affiliation, Achievement, and Power – The needs we have for affiliation, achievement, and power will also drive us to make certain choices and behave in certain ways. Fulfilling these needs might drive human beings to get a degree, start an organization, or join an elite club. The need for affiliation, achievement and power play a significant role for many in the United States. This need is related to incentives. If we want more money in our lives, for example, then we will spend time looking for a job.
All of these needs motivate people to behave in certain ways. However, most theorists see motivation as a combination of both the “push” of an internal need or drive and the “pull” of an external rewarding stimulus. For example, someone might be hungry (internal drive) but choose to satisfy that drive with a candy bar or a celery stick. Depending on the beliefs, values, and importance of health of that person, his or her choice will vary.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are certain types of motivation are going to influence the ability to stay sober and to participate in drug treatment. For instance, there’s intrinsic motivation, which is the internal drive to change. Compare that to extrinsic motivation, which is the desire to change because of something outside of you, like legal obligations or marital demands.
In order to overcome an addiction, that intrinsic motivation needs to be strong to counter the dependency that will drive you to drink or use drugs. As long as there is ambivalence, the desire to change will be countered by a desire to drink. Yet, when the intrinsic motivation is strong enough that’s when change will happen.
If you already know that your intrinsic motivation is not strong enough, get the support you need from a mental health professional, such as a drug counselor or therapist. Together you can discuss what’s keeping you stuck in the addiction and what’s motivating you to quit.