Sometimes people with addiction are mandated to complete a substance abuse program. This usually occurs after they have been convicted of DWI or been found guilty of drug possession or when an employment agency recommends it so they are allowed to return to work. Whatever the reason, the individual is forced into treatment even though he or she does not want counseling.
When people are asked to attend counseling without having an interest in participating in treatment, they usually become resistant and reluctant. They spend a lot of their time trying to justify their past substance use and rationalizing how they do not belong in treatment. Quite often these individuals become angry, frustrated, and occasionally disrespectful. When individuals are mandated, it is very hard to convince them of why they belong in treatment. What makes it worse is that for the person in treatment, it feels like a waste of time, and he or she may resent the time spent in a counseling session, which interferes with the person’s daily routine.
Here are some suggestions to help those people mandated to counseling to view it in a more positive light:
- Recognize why you were mandated in the first place. If you had a past DWI offense or have a history of using alcohol or drugs, chances are that you are mandated to treatment to learn about changing your behavior and making better choices. If you did not do anything that did not warrant counseling or have you reflect on your choices, you would not be mandated in the first place.
- Trust your referring source. The person who mandated you has seen other people who are in your position. They have mandated people with similar backgrounds numerous times and have achieved positive results. If they did not feel that people benefited from treatment, they would not continue to mandate people to treatment.
- Learn to be humble. Take it as a learning experience. Learn about other people’s experiences; be happy that you are only mandated to treatment and not sentenced to jail or fired from your job. Practice gratitude.
- Learn to respect decisions other than your own. When people are upset that they are mandated to counseling, it is usually because they do not agree with the terms. Begin learning from other people’s opinions and not just your own.
- Most importantly, learn about yourself. Learn about your emotions, feelings, and what brought you here. Learn about how you can change your life for the better and educate yourself on a life without substances. Learn about the cause of your substance use and why life is better when you remain free from all mood-altering substances. Be open to feedback.
Counseling does not have to be a stigma, especially when it is not your choice. It is not something that could ruin your life; rather, it is something that can help you in the long run. Instead of thinking that it is a waste of time, remember to always try and make the best of each counseling session so that your time is not wasted.
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