Addiction affects millions of Americans, both addicts and their families. Many people may not even enjoy using drugs or alcohol but default to drinking or using drugs simply to cope with life stressors. Thousands of people enter treatment every year, many of whom seek a different way to manage their problems to remain sober.
The good news is that there’s a trait that can protect both adolescents and adults from addiction, called self-efficacy.
What Is Self-Efficacy?
This concept was pioneered by Albert Bandura, a psychologist. He describes this as a person’s belief in their ability to get what they want, through self-motivation and inspiration, without seeking outside help. He notes that “unless people believe they can produce desired effects by their actions, they have little incentive to undertake activities or to persevere in the face of difficulties.”
While people can accomplish great and meaningful things with the help of others, when they rely too much on outside aid, then their self-efficacy declines.
What is the Connection Between Self-Efficacy and Addiction?
People who have a low sense of self-efficacy may also have other traits that make addiction more likely, such as learned helplessness, low self-esteem, and feelings of depression and hopelessness. These kinds of characteristics make a person more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their emotions.
On the other hand, higher self-efficacy has been limed to less frequent binge drinking episodes, less marijuana use, and a lower risk of relapse, according to an article published in Addictive Behaviors.
Can Self-Efficacy Be Learned?
Many people wish there were a way to gain confidence in themselves and reduce their dependence on addictive substances. Therapy can help, especially if the client has deep-seated or negative beliefs about themselves or their life situation. There are other ways that self-efficacy can be learned and ways that people can put skills learned in therapy into practice.
Some simple ways to improve self-efficacy include:
- Change your perspective, and try to seek the outlook as more positive than negative
- View negative life experiences as passing, changing things, and not permanent or personal
- Give yourself small tasks to accomplish throughout the day, boosting your sense of self-worth and confidence in your abilities
- Value your ability to do hard work and complete challenging tasks
- Praise yourself when you’ve completed a task or exhibited good behavior, creating a positive feedback loop
When you create a more positive way of talking to yourself and focus on negative emotions and situations as fleeting rather than permanent circumstances, then you’ll be able to build up a better view of yourself and your abilities. Creating a steady habit of accomplishing small things and rewarding yourself with positive self-talk boosts your self-efficacy.
Identify opportunities to accomplish things, learn skills, or pursue a favorite hobby. When you begin to admire yourself and grow, you may guard yourself against addiction or relapse by creating a life that you don’t want to escape from.
Are You Struggling With Addiction?
Addiction to alcohol or drugs is a difficult battle. Many people benefit from professional, compassionate rehabilitation. These facilities can help you safely detox from the substance and then learn more about the nature of addiction and how to change your way of thinking to prevent relapse. Call Baystate Recovery Services today for a free, private consultation. We offer intensive outpatient therapy, as well as family therapy.