Forward Steps to Recovery
Using Constructive Relapse-Preventive Thinking
- Thought Stopping: I’m not going to think about that; I’ve already made my decision.
- Thought Substitution: I’m in danger – I’d better be alert; I think I’ll call Bob; I think I’ll plan my vacation.
- Debating/Disputing/Challenging Your Negative Self-Talk: Where is the evidence? Is this thought or belief true or valid? How does this thought or belief serve my best interest?
- Coping Statements: This feeling will eventually pass; It’s hard, but not too hard; Condemn the behavior, not the person.
- Positive Affirmation: I have said no to myself before – I can do so again; I’m going to treasure my sobriety; Even if I have lapsed, I can accept myself.
- Review of Goals (Desirable Outcomes): I want to stop drinking – it’s my goal; I have already decided that I want to keep my relationship with my wife; I want to go home sober.
- Review of Negative Consequences (Undesirable Outcomes): Eventually, I will lose my job; I can’t take two drinks without taking several more and getting drunk; My relationships will suffer.
- Do Written Homework (Problem Sheet, ABC Sheet, or Drinking Sheet).
- Reframing: Look at the situation from another angle or another person’s viewpoint. Look at the benefits of choosing not to engage in the addictive behavior.
- Rational-Emotive Imagery: Imagine yourself behaving or feeling differently about the situation. Close your eyes and practice responding to someone in a different, more rational, more effective manner.
Using Constructive Relapse-Preventive Actions
- Get involved in a project or a recreational activity.
- Walk the other way.
- If there are any remaining liquor, drugs, sweets, or other addictive substances in the house, throw them out or flush them down the toilet.
- Call a friend.
- Fill in a worksheet.
- Do something intentionally to lift your spirits other than drinking or drugging: e.g., climb a mountain, go for a brisk walk.
- Have some seltzer or other non-alcoholic beverage.
- Go to a SMART Recovery meeting.
- Read a chapter from Ellis and Velten’s When AA Doesn’t Work for You or another REBT self-help book.
- Divert/enjoy yourself: Exercise, go for a walk, watch TV, play a game, cook, take a hot bath, have a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, listen to music.