Author: Ann Schiebert
Types of Reality Distortion Systems
I’m Not an Addict cont’d
How to Implement New Behavior
There are many behaviors us addicts have, which keep our addiction in place. Here are some of them:
1. Using Rituals: A using ritual is a repeated practiced behavior that leads to entering into one’s addiction. For example, I have become accustomed to calling my drinking buddy, Tony, when I get home from work. We usually make plans to meet up at our favorite bar. We have a practice of talking and drinking until I’m buzzed/drunk, then I drive home under the influence. Not only do we talk while at the bar, we, "party hardy!" And I do this over and over and over. In fact, I rarely talk to Tony unless it is about making plans for the evening. THIS IS A USING RITUAL! Where do you think Tony should intervene on himself to get himself free from this using ritual? AT THE BEGINNING! When Tony gets home from work, he needs to find another activity. The moment he calls Tony, he’s back in his using ritual.
2. Rationalization: This is a thought process in which one tells one’s self it’s OK to do something even though he/she knows it’s not. For an addict, this might look like telling one’s self, "So I’m at a party and everyone is drinking. What’s one beer going to harm?" It is this type of thinking that leads addicts in recovery, back into active addiction. To offset rationalization, one must reconceptualize how one thinks. Many do this by dividing their thoughts into two categories: 1. The addict brain, which will lead one back to relapse, and 2. The recovery brain, which will assist in staying in recovery. Any thought that supports the idea of returning to use, comes from the addict brain. It is important to use, "thought stopping," techniques such as consciously changing the topic one is thinking about.
3. Euphoric Recall: This is about remembering the, "good old days." So many addicts develop amnesia when it comes to remembering all the negative consequences that came to them from their addiction. Instead, they recall all the, "fun," and outrageous times they had while under the influence. When an addict partakes of euphoric recall, the present seems boring, and this can lead to craving the excitement of the past. When euphoric recall enters the mind, and it will, one has to change the focus to all the negative outcomes they have experienced from their use.
4. Hanging out with Using Friends: This is such a trap. There’s an old adage: "If you hang around the barber shop long enough, sooner or later you’ll get a hair cut." Being with people who one used/drank with produces a trigger to relapse. So often patients tell me, "Oh they really support my sobriety!" I ask these patients, "Do they use around you?" If the answer is, "Yes," that is not the kind of support that will sustain one in recovery. We have to find sober pals. We have to develop new ways of having fun. If we don’t, we’ll get what we’ve always had.
Attending community supports such as 12 Step programs, Life Ring, Women for Sobriety, to name a few, will help one implement new behaviors and ways of thinking. Changing one’s using patterns and thoughts takes time. Be patient with yourself.
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