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Carol’s Story

A Disaster-Preparedness Plan

A Post from the SMART Recovery Online Message Board

Hi Guys,

Member stories of addiction recoveryI wanted to add to what Marky suggested about having a pre-determined plan in response to a desire to drink after an established period of sobriety.

I devised one after several months sober and refer to it as my Disaster-Preparedness plan. Although I do realize that the title may infer “awfulizing”, it is more symbolic of my resolve to not return to old behaviors that I BELIEVE will ultimately cost me my freedom.

I felt the Plan was in my best interests as I had previously had 2 six-month periods of abstinence and at the end of both, consciously and deliberately CHOSE to drink again with the goal of moderation. At the time, I thought the choice of moderation was reasonable and obtainable. It was surprising how quickly the drinking escalated but I now know those old patterns returned because I did not have the knowledge nor the tools to effectively recognize and change the beliefs that led to my problem drinking. Although SMARTer now, I devised a plan of action to be implemented in the event that my usual disputations and rational thinking processes fail for some “out of the blue” reason.

…in addition to providing me with new information, insight, and opportunities for growth, this forum reinforces what I have learned and implemented to make the wonderful changes to my lifestyle.

My Plan is to be implemented if I ever seriously consider that I want to have A drink.

1. For the first 24 hours, I may do nothing- I may not drink under any circumstance. I simply consider the thought of having a drink as simply an urge- no big deal. Dispute and distract for 24 hours.

2. If after 24 hours, I continue to think that I would like to have a drink and explore moderation, then for 6 days, I give this thought some serious work. I explore it, write about it (ABC, etc), do another Cost Benefit Analysis for this particular time frame, and invest the time and energy a potentially life changing decision deserves.

3. If after these 7 days, I believe that I still would like to have A drink and that moderation is in my best interests, then I must present my work (done in # 2) to my SMART friends. I believe that they will listen to me, that they care about my best interests, and that they will be objective. If they concur that my new beliefs meet the test of rationality, that my new plans meet my stated goals, and they feel comfortable with my choice to moderate, then I may proceed with caution.

Since passing the 6-month marker with SMART, I have encountered a very powerful
urge to drink on only 1 occasion- in the middle of packing up and moving to a new home. Triggers (to drink), old patterns of thinking, emotional upheaval (frustration, anger), fatigue- I threw them all together for one strong desire to get plowed. And I implemented the plan. For an hour, I drove around disputing the urge to pull into every liquor store along my section of the FL coastline. And that’s a lot of disputing!! That was the worst of it- one hour. And what saved me was that I just kept telling myself that the decision TO drink was going to be as RATIONAL as the decision NOT TO drink. That’s what my
plan called for, that’s what I had committed to, and that’s what I was going with.

Of course, I never got to step #2. Within 24 hours, I was back on track and making choices appropriate to meeting my goals. And as importantly, I carefully and thoroughly examined what happened that led me to encounter such a strong urge to drink. I was “off track”. I had failed to recognize the warning signs. Somewhere I had gotten off balance and I wanted to explore that and learn from it.

Please Donate Today!As far as NEEDING this site: I am not concerned that I will make an inappropriate decision because I do not visit this board daily, for I have learned skills and have the knowledge and tools to carry me towards my goals independent of this support group. However, in addition to providing me with new information, insight, and opportunities for growth, this forum reinforces what I have learned and implemented to make the wonderful changes to my lifestyle.

I value my SMART friendships and find it comforting to visit here each day. Thanks for being here.