Backward Steps to Addictive Behavior
Just as recovery is a process and not an event, so is relapse. As a part of your relapse prevention plan, cultivate your awareness of these common backward steps toward addictive behavior.
TRIGGERS – External, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.
Which areas are the riskiest for you?
Which do you have the most difficulty combating?
Rate each category from 0-10 (where 10 is the riskiest or most difficult).
a.____ Conditioned responses in certain settings
b.____ Unpleasant emotions
c.____ Unpleasant physical sensations
d.____ Pleasant emotions
e.____ Pressure from others
f. ____ Conflict with others
h.____ Testing personal control
IMAGINING/FANTASIZING – Start to imagine what it would be like to… how you would feel, how you would think and act … then…
UNHELPFUL THINKING – Irrational beliefs, cognitive distortions, and rationalizations that you used to convince yourself to take the backward step.
a.___ Negative exaggeration; awfulizing; catastrophizing.
b.___ Self-downing / self denigration.
“It won’t really matter.”
“I deserve it.”
“I will only have one.”
“It’s been a long time.”
d.___ Low frustration tolerance (LFT):
“I can’t stand it.”
e.___ The Tyranny of the Shoulds:
“It shouldn’t be so hard.”
“I shouldn’t have this problem.”
“S/he shouldn’t speak to me that way.”
“The world stinks, and it shouldn’t!”
– “I’ll just go down to the store and buy a bottle.”
– “I’ll finish this project and then go to the bar.”
– “I’ll take some money out of my other account.”
ACTING – Behaviors that lead to UNDESIRABLE OUTCOMES (list them)
Teach yourself how to respond at each step. Even though it gets harder to intervene at each step along the way, it can be done. Practice rehearsing relapse preventive self-talk in SMART Recovery group meetings (role-playing is an excellent exercise), out loud at home, into a tape recorder, or in writing.