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Alcohol & Other Drugs

Change is always possible

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There is always hope for people struggling with substance use problems. That is, change is always possible, whether that change means reducing your current use or quitting altogether.

You are unique, and your situation is unique. And therefore you may need to carve your own unique path to freedom from your problems. Writer and former heroin user William Pryor touches on this point when wrestling over the concept of drug dependence in Addiction: A witchcraft myth of modernity?:

“Addiction is both real and not real. No one can deny the reality of a full-blown junkie or alcoholic in hot pursuit of his next fix or drink—his need is a palpable and frightening force. But addiction is also unreal: many addicts just stop, with no intervention, no treatment (Miles Davis and John Coltrane both got off heroin by shutting themselves in quiet rooms in the country for a couple of weeks).”

Yes, change is possible, but you have to want it and be ready for it. And the only way to know if you are is to be honest with yourself about your feelings about change.

Write down what and how you’re considering changing. (e.g., quitting smoking, drinking lightly and only on weekends)


How important is it for you to make this change?


How confident are you that you can make this change?


If change is not that important to you, or you’re not ready, consider checking out our Harm Reduction Strategies at the back of this booklet. If change is important to you and you’re ready right now, consider making a change plan (a description of what, when and how you’re going to change, and what you’re going to do to ensure you stick with your decision). You can use the tools and change plan template on the next few pages, or create your own.

If you need more help, see Tips and Tools at the back of this booklet.


Plan ahead

Preparing for change may take some careful planning. Some of the ways to plan ahead include identifying the following:

  • Things that might impede your progress, and ways to bust through these roadblocks
  • People, places and situations that make using a drug in the same old way almost impossible to resist
  • Fun stuff to do that doesn’t involve drugs
  • How to crush your cravings
  • What to do if you mess up
  • People who can help get you over the change hump


Make a change plan

There’s no “one way” to make a change plan. It has to be right for you. But if you’re not sure how to start, consider using the template below by filling in the blanks to create a change statement and plan of action.

I’m going to__________starting on this date__________because__________and this is how I’m going to do it:__________. To deal with craving, I’m going to__________.



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