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The Addictions Group at Ironwood utilizes the framework of William Miller’s motivation for change model and Terence Gorski’s relapse prevention strategies. Within the addiction world it would be difficult to find more frequently used models for recovery than these two methods.
Relying upon the resident to identify where they are in regard to the desire to stop using substances (precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance) sets the stage for tackling a problem such as an addiction. Where a resident is in the stages of change fluctuates and therefore, allows the resident to monitor her own commitment to make changes in substance abusing behaviors.
Tipping the scales in one direction or another is a cognitive process. It requires the resident to review former behaviors and increases their awareness of negative consequences, i.e., school failure; interpersonal problems; family dysfunction; and ultimately placement in a residential treatment center such as Ironwood, and helps to identify positive attributes that can be used to move along a positive behavior change continuum.
The goal of the addiction group process at Ironwood is to move residents along through the stages of change and engage in acknowledging that there was (or is) a problem and how we can work together to think seriously about solving that problem. We look for causes and investigate possible solutions.
This clinician tries to help residents prepare for the possibility of living their lives outside Ironwood substance free. In the process, we integrate Gorski’s work on relapse prevention as a tool for getting back on the healthy road should a relapse occur. In other words, getting back into the action stage of overtly modifying substance abusing behaviors as quickly as possible so that the youth can maintain the gains attained during residence at Ironwood.
As Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente explain in “Changing for Good” (1994): “Any activity that you initiate to help modify your thinking, feeling, or behavior is a change process” (p.25). Motivating the residents at Ironwood to change their behavior through this type of supportive process, helps to encourage an increased level of awareness about problematic behaviors in general and fosters a habit of looking more closely at the pros and cons of all behavior.