People in the Contemplation Stage have become aware of problems associated with their behavior. However, they are ambivalent about whether or not it is worthwhile to change. In other words, they sit on the fence of a decision. They still see, and want, both benefits that come from the current behavior, as well as making a change. As the natural consequences of drinking and using increase, their motivation for change grows. This is the process we call resolving ambivalence.
In other words, the addicted person explores the potential to change by weighing the pros and the cons of getting clean—a cost benefit analysis. He also has a strong desire to change but lacks the confidence and commitment to do what it takes to recover—at least at that point in time. He has the intention to change at some point in the future, but the timeframe is unspecified, which I admit, can be exasperating as we wait in the wings for them to finally change.
For this reason, all too often, contemplators are pegged as being lazy about their recovery. The truth is that they are most likely not lazy; they are simply doing the internal work, sifting through the cost and benefits of sobriety, and trust me, this is hard work.
At some point, the negatives of drug and alcohol use will outweigh the positives. This decision point to change represents a shift in the right direction, although he might not stay committed to his decision, and may even back pedal again. This is to be expected. This is where your emotional raincoat, managing realistic expectations, and setting up strong fences comes in. They may be wavering to and fro, but you have to remain steady and calm, no matter their choice of the day or the hour. You can only control you. You can’t control them. Truthfully, the best thing you can do for your addicted loved one is stay steady emotionally. Stay calm. Stay at peace. This book is designed to help you achieve that level of serenity. When they are ready for action steps, you will be too. You won’t be worn out or angry and depressed or sick. Excitingly, you’ll be healthy and ready to dive in to support them when the time is right while managing your expectations along the way.