EP 58 Motivating Change: Insights Into The Stages of Recovery

Living With Your Child's Addiction Podcast
Living With Your Child's Addiction Podcast
EP 58 Motivating Change: Insights Into The Stages of Recovery

Heather talks about the stages of change model. Making major changes that last concerning substance use is not easy for our kids. Knowing and understanding the stage of change your child is in will help you know what to do to support them and remove barriers to make it easier for them to move to the next stage.  

3 things you’ll learn from the episode:

The 6 stages of change

What happens in each stage

Strategies for motivating change and offering support at each stage

Episodes to Listen to next:

1. Episode #11 Boundaries

2. Episode #24 Mastering Your Response To Your Child’s Addiction

3. Episode #49 Beyond Addiction How Science and Kindness Helps People Change with author Nicole Kosanke PhD


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This transcript has not been formatted or edited.


I’m Heather after many wasted years, trying outdated, approaches to my daughter’s addiction, that felt wrong to me harmed.

Our relationship and didn’t help my daughter.

I finally found an effective evidence-based approach.


That repair my relationship with her helped me.

Create my own peace of mind and made me an ally in my daughter’s recovery.

I teach you a loving and compassionate approach to help you encourage change.

Create connection addiction impacts the entire family system.


Family recovery is the answer.

Hey everybody.

It’s just me today.

It’s first time I haven’t had a guest in a while.

So today I want to talk about the stages of change change happens in stages and it takes time, it’s a process but that’s really hard to remember when you’re scared and you’re really worried about your child and of course, you want change now.


So understanding how change happens in the stages that your child is going to go through, will help you?

Have patience in that process and give you something to focus on in each stage and then also like, where do you see yourself in this like what stage of change are you in when it comes to how you’re showing up for yourself and the changes that you’re trying to make in your life because that’s a process to.


So, there are six stages of change.

I’m going to tell you what the stage is, our explain a little bit about each stage then give You some strategies for responding to each stage of change?

The most important thing about using these strategies is knowing if you’re in the right frame of mind or not, because if you’re feeling angry and resentful, then the strategies that I’m offering, you shouldn’t be trying them yet, it would be harmful and it wouldn’t help.


And there’s no shame in that.

There’s Power in knowing and acknowledging that and it’s Brave.

So give yourself Grace for not being ready for that.

If you are, that’s how you feel, you’re not ready that you’re feeling really angry and resentful.


Then I want you to focus on self care, understanding the science of addiction and focus on boundaries to protect your physical and emotional space and protect your energy so that you have room to work on yourself and I want to recommend And three episodes for you to listen to, to help you through those recommendations.


I just made and that is listening to episode number 11, which is about boundaries.

And episode number 24, which is about mastering your response to your child’s addiction.

And the third one is episode number 49, which is beyond addiction, how science and kindness.


Help people change with author Nicole cause Anki and I’m going to put those episodes.

Roads in the show notes to but go ahead and listen to this episode and just know if you’re not ready, it’s okay to take time to take care of yourself.


In fact, it’s actually the most important, Next Step you can take.

So the six stages of change our number one precontemplation.

Number two, contemplation number three.

Preparation number for Action.


Number five.

Ants and number six relapse.

So the first stage precontemplation, is the stage where your child doesn’t consider their addictive behavior to be a problem.

It could be denial, or maybe they’re addictive, behaviors, still create a positive experience for them.


And when I say positive experience I mean something like it relieves their stress instead of adding more stress.

As like it does in later stages and people in this stage, they don’t want to talk about quitting or negative consequences, the resistant to change because they don’t see a need for it yet.


So some strategies for inviting someone to move from stage 1 to Stage 2.

So you want to get them to move from precontemplation to contemplation some strategies for that are to first again research and Understand the science of addiction so you can expect to them about it actually, and that’s just going to help you.


Overall, you can State your concerns to them about their substance misuse and its negative effects on their life.

Just remember that as you state your concerns, so try to be specific in factual rather than emotional and ending up giving a lecture.


You can offer affirmations, like, it’s great that you’re willing to have this conversation with me.

And here, my concerns and then focus on connection, build your relationship, build, trust, replace judgment with curiosity and compassion talk about what they get out of their substance use, how it helps them.


Ask open-ended questions to help you understand ask about if there’s any side effects that they don’t like, or maybe like less.

Maybe they don’t like how much It costs them or how they feel after a night of substance use.


You can also allow natural consequences because that’s going to help them start to see the negative consequences of their substance use.

You just want to make sure that you’re creating a safe and supportive environment where your child feels safe, telling you the truth.


It’s so important and coming to you for help when they’re ready and you need to tell and show.

Them that you’re there to support them.

And like, I mentioned earlier, working on yourself is a really great way to do that and understanding them and what they’re going through is another great way to do that.


So also practice listening to their perspectives without disagreeing.

So in the stage you’re not going to agree with very many of their perspectives.

You think there’s a problem and they don’t.

So you’re just going to have to practice listening without disagreeing and really hearing Them and it’s going to take patience.


You have to be patient and not push too far.

And then when all else fails, just go back to connection.

And in my experience, my daughter Helena was in the precontemplation stage from the time.

She was 12 until she was about 18 when she started.


Moving between stages, one through four several times she didn’t think there was a problem, the first several years.

And even if she did, she would have never admitted it because I was being very controlling using tough love.


I had this one-size-fits-all Rock Bottom approach and that’s just what I had been taught and what I had learned in my research and the people that we had gone to for help.

So, by the time I found the book beyond Addiction in 2018 and started using strategies that worked like Aft.


Then I mainly focused on learning about addiction very deep work on myself, doing the work that I wanted my daughter to do and I was taking care of myself.

I was setting boundaries loving boundaries allowing natural consequences, not trying to create additional consequences, like I had been before and repairing our relationship and creating trust and connection again.


And it took a lot of patience and vulnerability and so much creativity.

I don’t even think I could be that creative in a relationship.

I listened more than I talked for once.

I share my life with her instead of talking at her, I was just more open with her.


I took her out to eat a lot.

I painted pictures for her.

I was really getting into essential oils at the time, so I just bring her them over so that she could smell them.


And I tell her about the properties of the oils, just whatever I could do to connect with her, I’d give her rides when it fit into my schedule.


I did her laundry.

I’ll go pick up her laundry, do it for her, and bring it back to her.

And I put a little note in there so that she would find it later and a wonderful byproduct of that was I got to freely love and enjoy my daughter again, and to really show her And get to do Mom things again, right?


I loved doing her laundry because I missed that before in there was just so much healing that took place during this in stage 1 and you can set a really beautiful foundation for healing in.

Any of these stages you don’t have to wait until they’re in the action or maintenance stage to create healing.


You can create it in any of these stages.

The stage to contemplation.

This is where your child begins to consider changing, consider consider cutting down, consider moderation, or maybe even quitting.


They begin to recognize that there should be some concerns about their substance use, but they’re still ambivalent and uncertain about change.

So, they’re open to talking about choices.

They’re open to talking about options for change but they aren’t ready to commit.


To those options are changes yet some strategies for increasing their commitment to change and moving them from contemplation stage 2 to stage 3 which is preparation.


Some strategies for that.

Are you can use all of the strategies that you used in stage 1.

And you can also talk about their ambivalence, how they might want to go in two different directions at the same time, like normalize that they feel that way because ambivalence applies to more than addiction.


Like we all experience it in life, think about wanting to lose weight but not wanting to cut back on snacks or wanting to save money.

But not wanting to stick to a budget.

We all go through ambivalence so explore with them in a curious.


Rent or way, help them way the reasons to change and not change, you know, the weight of that, including the consequences that they’re experiencing.

But again I want to make sure you keep it factual.


And to the point, like don’t get emotional and preachy try talking about where they are now and where they want to be.

Like you can ask open-ended questions about their goals.

Be really curious.

Curious, where would they like to be in three to five years.


How does their substance use fit into that or not fit into that?

And also, make sure that they know that it is their decision to make, it’s up to them, they’re the only one that can make this change.

Nobody can do it for them.


In this helps them see that.

It is their own choice and responsibility, not something they’re being forced to do that.

Choice is really important.

And make sure you say these statements in a loving compassionate way and factual way.

Again rather than an emotional accusatory way.


You can also talk about small steps that they consider taking in my experience with Elana in stage two was very similar to stage one, except we just were having more open conversations about her substance use and the consequences of it and how she wanted to change.


So the main Something there that was changing for us, was the conversation was changing and she was much more open to talking.

There wasn’t any talking really about her addiction and Stage when she just wasn’t very open to it, but she was much more open to it in stage 2 stage, 3 preparation.


This is where your child considers possible paths towards changing their behaviors.

And they take small steps to reach their final goal.

All their planning and preparing for actions that they’ll take in the next step they could plan to cut down their use reduce harm or they could plan to quit completely.


They might still need some convincing about ambivalence in the stage, but they believe that making changes will lead to a healthier life.

So, some strategies for moving from stage 3, preparation to stage 4, which is action, or Strategies for trying to get them to change.


This can be a really tough one because as I mentioned earlier, if your child wants to reduce their use or reduce harm and you have your heart set on abstinence, it can be very frustrating and very challenging.


So you’re going to have to really focus on the change that they’re making and that this is progress.

A might not be the Is that you want but it is progress.

So be try and be open-minded about the options that your child wants to make change and help them prepare.


For those changes offer options, they want to go to treatment, have a couple treatment centers picked out for them to choose from plan where they will live when they finish treatment.

Try to remove any barriers to the changes that they want to make.


If you have a supportive family and friends again, If your child’s up for it and gauge their support, the other tough part about this phase is that it can be really exciting, right?

You’re so close.

And in this excitement, it’s really easy to get pushy and in a rush and you have to be really careful because that can push your child away and if they stay in this stage longer than you think they should or longer than they originally talked about, you’re really going to have to call on your page.


Sense because that’s what I experienced with Helena in 2018 and 2019.

We went through stage three several times in my experience with her was that when she was making really small changes, like she was just going to go to a medical assistant detox but not rehab or she wasn’t going to go to rehab at all.


She was just going to try getting on Suboxone and methadone.

She did that several all times she moved through stage 3, really fast during those smaller changes.

There was very little preparation other than making appointments and taking her to them, which was staged for.


But so she would just start talking about it and it would just happen.

I didn’t have to wait that long, but then and she wasn’t ready to change her willing, her living situation or anything at that time.

And I was supportive Those changes, right?


I realized it was a process and it was going to take time for her to increase her level of commitment that it would take to get sober and stay sober and to possibly go to rehab.

So, when she went to rehab for the first time in 2020, she was in this preparation stage for several months, and I wasn’t prepared for that.


I didn’t expect for it to last that long and she talked about going to rehab a lot.


She was really struggling at this point.

She was having a lot of health problems from infections from IV drug use and we had the place that she wanted to go picked out.


I think she had even yeah, she had even called there and talk to them and I got really excited.

I thought, you know, it’s like it’s going to happen any minute now, and I started talking about it.

A lot, I was unintentionally putting pressure on her and as time went on, I was getting a little Patient.


It was hard not to try to control or force her, like, it was really hard.

And I got frustrated at the length of time that she spent in this stage, we were just, you know, felt like so close.

It was like, torture waiting and I just finally had to back way off to be really careful about not putting pressure on her.


So the stage can take a lot longer than you expect and it’s easy for that.

Right moment to get out of control so I just want to warn you about that but then again after she relapsed.

So she went to rehab in 2020, she relapsed.


She went back in 2021.

This stage was again very hard.

So the first time she was going through the stage, she was an Oklahoma, and I was just mainly experiencing it over the phone because I had moved to Florida that time, but the next time, She went to rehab the first time.


She came home to Florida and moved here.

So I was watching her go through stage 3, and we were talking about it, and it didn’t look like it to me, though.

It didn’t look like, I expected it to.


It was very hard and she was asking us to find a rehab that she could take her dog to.

So, my mom and I Did that even though I was struggling to believe that she could go or would go.


So I think the takeaway here is that, it’s not easy to tell, what phase someone is really in.

Sometimes, you can’t see much in stages, one through three.


So, it takes a lot of patience and belief, and in my experience, it did not look like I expected to, and, you know, I just try to imagine And that she was probably rapidly moving through stages, one through three over and over again, trying to get up the courage to move into the action stage and when I’m not thinking about myself and my discomfort about it, I have to have a ton of compassion for our, how much courage it takes for them to move into the action stage.


So, stage for Action in this stage, your child makes the change.

Jizz that they prepared for in stage 3.

This is a stage where you can see changes being made and change.

Can be really stressful though for your child and for you.


So some strategies for the action stage is in my experience with that stage.

So your strategies are to focus on supporting and reinforcing positive change.

And in this stage, be prepared to you, Choose any, or all of the strategies that I talked about in stages, one through three, based on how your child is doing with the action that they chose to take.


And again, this stage can be really hard.

It was unexpected for me how hard this stage was.

And that’s why I’m giving you the warnings about stages, 3 and 4 and how hard they can be because I thought that these stages would be easier to deal with when we finally got to them.


I thought that when we were preparing to re go to rehab that, she would just go and I thought that when she got your rehab, she would just want to stay.

I wasn’t prepared for how it really went and even though when she went to rehab, she stayed the whole 90 days.


She was constantly going through stages, one through three, in her mind even though she was physically her actions.

She was staying in the action stage but that’s when I would be getting these.

Al’s like get me the F out of here you know in her mind and that moment quitting was a bigger problem than using a gun.


So my strategy had to match where she was when she called me had to match what she was experiencing.

So this is where all of your strategies and practice come together in knowing how to respond Stage 5.


It is maintenance and this is where your child will continue to follow through with the actions that they took in stage 4 and work to prevent relapse and avoid returning to any of the previous stages.


And this is where they also integrate.

The changes that they’ve made into their life, the challenge here for your child is that stress can add up is their living everyday life again and they Start to think that a small lapse won’t be a big deal.


Maybe they could casually use ones with no consequences.

So it’s really important for them to continue to learn new coping strategies in the maintenance stage, some strategies for you and supporting your child through the maintenance stage.


And my experience with stage five was, you can support them by helping them stay motivated pointing out their progress.

Help them find channel support and Community supporting their lifestyle changes engaging family.


Again, if your family supportive in your child’s open to it again, you’re going to be using different strategies based on like what your child is struggling with during the maintenance stage, my experience was stage five was a little bit different.


Both times Hannah went to rehab the first time.

She came home maintenance was a huge struggle.

For her.

I offered her a lot of options for support for her sobriety but she just really wasn’t willing to try many of them and we lived out in the country so she was pretty isolated.


I could tell that relapse was inevitable and it was really hard not to push her she wasn’t open to conversation at all.

So I went back to focusing on connecting with her and just positively reinforcing Seeing the changes that she had made in the ones that she was maintaining the second time she went to rehab.


She was willing to do whatever it took to stay sober.

So I helped her find a sober living house.

She went to meeting, she was starting a new life, my family, and I supported her and there were times again, in Stage 5, that we were just having a regular relationship.


And I didn’t even have to think about strategies anymore, and that was wonderful.

But when I did need Reggie’s, like, because she talked about Cravings.

My strategies were similar again to Stage for I focused on positive.

Communication asking open-ended questions, affirming her progress and doing a lot of listening.


Stage, 6 is relapse and this isn’t always included in the stages of change, but I included it here because it happens.

So I think we need to talk about it.

Your child could have some or multiple Lapses or relapse has.


And the strategies here are to go along with whatever strategy you would have.

Used like whatever stage your child goes back to.

So in my experience and the early stages of huh?


Lana going through stages?

One through four multiple times.

I’m going after her first rehab when she relapsed.

She went all the way back to stage one or a lot of other times.

She would go all the way back to Stage one and it was really hard to hear her say that.

Nothing would ever help and the unit it wasn’t worth trying and I can only imagine how hard it is for our kids to feel that way too, but while she was in in rehab she lapsed and went right back to stage 4.


So she went right back to action.

So there was hardly any time between the relapse and being right back in Action.

She went right back to the detox.

This phase of the rehab and then after her second rehab, she lapsed after about six months and went right back into the action stage, didn’t go to go back to rehab or anything.


And then, I believe when she relapsed in December, she would have gone right back to stage 4, again.

Had she not been sold a lethal dose of fentanyl but the important thing to remember here is that you really Her know what’s going to happen.


You don’t know what stage, they’re going to go back to, this isn’t a linear process of elapsed or relapse occurs.

They could go back to any stage, including action.

So you’re going to have to adjust your strategy, according to the stage that they went back to.


And this is in no way.

An exhaustive list of all of the strategies you could try.

I couldn’t possibly fit all of the possible scenarios and Strategies into one podcast episode.

I just wanted to help you understand the stages of change and give you a few ideas about what strategies to use but just overall remember to be patient and take your time.


Don’t get impatient and try to do all of these things every day.

Try to create opportunities for conversation.

Make sure though that you’re taking a marathon approach and not a Sprint approach, you know what?

Be trying to Sprint through the stages of change because it doesn’t work, she’s going to push your child away.


And then the last thing is just think about how you would respond to some of the strategies you’re trying or knowing your child them better than anybody.

How would they respond think that through before you try something?

And if you don’t think that they would respond well either try to adjust it or just try a different strategy.


That’s all I have for you today.

I will talk to you soon.



Thank you for listening to this episode.

If you want to learn more about my work, go to Heather.

Ross coaching.com if you want to help other parents who are struggling with a child’s addiction, you can do it two different ways.


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