This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Overcoming Addiction” seminar. This portion is an excerpt from “Step One: ADMIT I have a struggle I cannot overcome without God.” To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit

“Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a couple dozen times,” captures well the pattern of trying to change any unwanted but enjoyable behavior. We want to, but we don’t. We’re motivated, but we’re not. We think we should, but wish people would just leave us alone. This mindset is called “ambivalence” – feeling two contradictory emotions about the same thing. Even if we didn’t know what ambivalence was, we’re good at it.

Even if we don’t know what ambivalence is, we’re good at it. #Motivation #Addiction Click To Tweet

Read James 1:5-8. This is often a guilt passage. We read it and think, “If it applies to me, I should freak out because it sounds really bad.” Start with verse five and realize the passage begins with presenting God as generous. God is not upset about supplying what we need in our double-minded moments. This will help you not doubt that there is hope for your fickle desire to change (v. 6). God is a gentleman. He won’t change us against our will (v. 7). But God is also loving and warns us against the dangers of our double-minded tendency. At this stage in your journey, you’re just getting comfortable admitting what God already knows. There is hope because God is not surprised even if we are surprised when we admit how bad things have gotten. Hope begins where you are and God will always join you there.

You need to name this tendency early in your journey or this attempt will merely be the latest edition of your good intentions. Don’t feel ashamed of your conflicted motives. God already knows and he still wants to help. The only person you can lie to is yourself and those who love you. In this section, you will look at five levels of motivation from Carlo DiClemente in Addictions and Change (bold text only). In the parentheses, we’ll map out how these correlate with the nine step journey of this study.

1. Pre-Contemplation (before you started):

This is the stage when you don’t anticipate making any changes in the foreseeable future because you don’t think they are needed. You are probably annoyed and offended if someone suggests that you change. “Change” as a concept is either not on your radar or is met with resistance instead of consideration.

2. Contemplation (Step 1):

Now you are beginning to believe that change might be beneficial and are wondering what the process might look like. You are trying to decide if change is “possible,” and, if so, if it’s “worth it.” You want to know what would be required and whether these sacrifices would produce a more satisfying life than continuing to neglect them.

3. Preparation (Steps 2-4):

In this phase your consideration becomes more concrete. You gather the information necessary to enact an effective and sustainable plan. You assess obstacles; both logistical (external) and motivational (internal). You begin to enlist people to come alongside of you for the journey.

4. Action (Steps 5-7):

At this point plans come to life; ideas become choices. Progress is made and setbacks are navigated. There are successes and failures, but the trajectory of your journey is forward. Techniques become habits and habits become a lifestyle. The roles once filled by your addiction are now filled with healthier and more satisfying ways of managing life.

5. Maintenance (Steps 8-9):

A new lifestyle is embraced. Increasingly your emotions and thought patterns conform to this new lifestyle. Your addiction is no longer your “reward or escape of choice” so you are enjoying life. At this stage you begin the work of restoring relationships and pursuing interests that were damaged or made impossible by the addiction.

Here is a great paradigm for understanding the early stages of addiction recovery. Click To Tweet

Exercise: In the margin beside these five levels of motivation write “today” beside where your motivation is now. Write significant dates or events in the margin that came to mind when you read each description. Chances are this is not your first attempt at this journey. Recognizing where you will begin to cover new terrain is important. Begin now realizing that every relapse is an opportunity to learn. There is no shame in falling; only quitting.

If you have multiple substances or behaviors with which you have an addictive struggle, you may not be in the same place –motivationally speaking – with each one of them. Be honest about that so you can weigh the implications of tackling your addictions one at a time versus all at once.

In the chart below list the substances and activities with which you might have an addictive struggle in the left hand column. Then for each one place an “x” under the stage of change that best represent where you are.

  • If you doubt it is a problem, that would be “pre-contemplation.”
  • If you’re willing to consider whether this item represents an addiction, that is “contemplation.”
  • If you’re committed to change and are actively creating a plan, that is “preparation.”
  • If you are actively working on recovery in this area, that is “action.”
  • If you are working to preserve more than 6 months of sobriety in this area, that is “maintenance.”
Substance / Activity Pre-Contemplation Contemplation Preparation Action Maintenance


“Motivation for change occurs when people perceive a discrepancy between where they are and where they want to be (p. 8).” William Miller, et al in Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual

If this post was beneficial for you, then consider reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Addiction” post which address other facets of this subject.