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A Community Reinforcement Approach: Treating Cocaine Addiction

Exhibit 18: Being Assertive

  • Clearly express your needs (what you want).
  • Tell the other person why you want it.
  • Balance the negative with the positive. That is, if you have to be critical or say something that implies blame, express something positive first. For example, "I know you have really tried to be supportive and understanding of my problem in the past, but lately I feet like you have been on my case constantly."
  • When expressing your feelings or needs, try to use "I" statements. For example, you could say "I am angry because I feel like nobody cares about my feelings," instead of "You make me feel awful."
  • Try not to express feelings or need with "you" statements. They usually cause the other person to act defensively and strike back.
  • Acknowledge the other person's rights and feelings in the matter. For example, "I know it is hard for you to always check in with me first, but that would make me feel much better, less anxious, and more valued."
  • Try to be as specific as possible when describing your needs and any changes that you request. For example, "I would feel much better if you would not say 'I told you so' when I make a mistake at work. If you could just tell me I made a mistake, I would be happy to fix it."
  • When responding to a request, try to sound strong and definite. For example, you might say "No I do not want to do that, I have important plans that I need to attend to," rather than "I don't think so, I don't really feel much like it today."
  • Speak loudly and firmly. Your message should be said with authority but not hostility. You want to convey that you mean business.
  • Respond promptly. This lets the other person know that you have thought about this and are sure of yourself.
  • Make good eye contact. Look at the other person when you speak and when you listen. Again, this promotes the impression that you are serious about your message.
  • Your body gestures and facial expressions should be consistent with your message. For example, don't smile if you are angry.


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Therapy Manuals for Drug Abuse:
Manual 2




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