14 Apr ‘Changeology’ Evidence-Based Path to Lasting Sobriety
Changing behaviors is difficult for everyone. Many of us go through life doing what we did the day before. We sometimes wish we could change. We make goals and resolutions, but often fall flat. If you struggle with substance abuse, making a change is a particular challenge. In addition to the difficulty we all face in changing our behaviors, you have a chemical substance that has a hold on you. A psychologist with 30 years of research experience has written a book about how to change. Based on thousands of studies, Changeology by Dr. John C. Norcross, is an evidence-based approach to making real and lasting change.
A Process Based on Science
What makes the steps outlined by Norcross different from those in a typical self-help book is that they are based on scientific evidence. A growing trend in addiction care and treatment has been to rely on evidence-based methods. Backed by three decades of research, Norcross’s methods are firmly based on what really works to help people change. Most self-help books by contrast are written based on anecdotes and personal experiences. They can be useful for some, but they don’t help everyone enact real change.
The Steps to Change
Norcross describes five steps that everyone must go through to enact and maintain change in their lives: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. The first step involves simply thinking about making a change. Addicts go through this step when they admit to having a problem and think about kicking the habit. The preparation stage means making a real plan that can be put into action. The action stage involves enacting that plan and the final step is continuing the change over the long term. For an addict, this means avoiding relapse.
In addition to being a process based on evidence and science, the book has also been well received and given good reviews by therapists, counselors and other mental health professionals. They appreciate the evidence-based nature of the book and that it is easy to follow. The author addresses problems that may arise when going through the process and provides actionable solutions. He also avoids jargon that may be confusing to readers not educated in psychology.
Reviewers agree that the process can be very helpful for people looking to make such changes as losing weight, drinking less or quitting smoking. One of the most useful parts of the process for addicts is the list of proven ways to avoid a relapse. Relapsing is often the most difficult aspect of achieving long-term sobriety.
When a Book Is Not Enough
Some people are able to contemplate change and then put it into action as described in the Changeology book, but the author cautions that some people still need professional help. Even for these people, though, the book can be a useful supplement. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol and simply can’t stop, no matter how hard you try, you need to seek professional treatment. The author also suggests that anyone with a serious mental illness also needs professional care. He emphasizes that even for people with serious issues of addiction or mental illness, a combination of professional treatment, reading about change and support groups can be powerful.
With evidence and research to back it up, many experts agree that the process outlined by Norcross in Changeology can be a real path to change for many people. If you’re looking to make important changes in your life, consider reading about the steps. But remember that if you struggle, especially with addiction, you may need professional care as well.
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