A recovering alcoholic knows when things are about to go south. There’s a “subtle insanity” that precedes the first drink. It’s that sneaky thought that the individual allows sticking almost before his or her eyes, written in large indelible marker. Maybe, it’s something along these lines:
- It would be nice to have a cocktail or two with dinner.
- I really miss seeing my friends. Maybe just one drink to let them know I’m still alive.
- One little joint (or drink) can’t hurt. After all, I’ve been sobering for a month now.
- I can handle just a little. It’s not like one time will put me out of control.
Of course, there are lots more examples of the kind of subtle insanity a recovering addict engages in right before they succumb to their self-deluded excuses and take that first drink and destroy their path to a holistic approach to recovery.
The point is to recognize that this sneaky thought process will rear up and derail the unsuspecting individual. It’s the very unexpectedness that often catches people off-guard. Again, it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been sober or clean or how well they’ve been able to ward off temptation in the past. It’s today that counts. It’s what’s happening now and how they handle it that’s important. One day at a time, that’s the approach that works.
Constructive versus Destructive Plans of Action
Early in recovery, it’s recommended that individuals adhere as closely as possible to the plan of action that they’ve written out for themselves with the help of their treatment counselor. This includes attendance and participation in 12-step support meetings, going through the 12 steps, and making a sincere effort to put into practice all the new behaviors they’ve learned.
Each person should thoroughly know themselves after they’ve been through treatment. If they don’t, they don’t pay attention or go through it with honesty. Once an individual is an alcoholic, they can’t drink. Once you’re a drug addict, you can’t do drugs. Once you’re a compulsive gambler, you can’t gamble. Not once, not ever. Knowing this, a destructive plan of action would involve those subtle insanities taking over a constructive plan. An alcoholic knows he or she can’t drink. A constructive plan has the individual choosing new ways home from work so that the opportunity to see the former bar/club/hangout driving by is eliminated. A destructive plan of action would be to dismiss the warning and drive by or, worse yet, go into the establishment just to see how strong they are. Guess what? This can only happen a very limited number of times (or only once) before the individual relapses.
A constructive plan should include a thorough cleaning out of the home, office, shed, garage, attic, or basement – or anywhere a stash of liquor, drugs, or other addictive substances are hidden. A destructive plan is to deliberately forget to mention to a friend, spouse, significant other, 12-step sponsor, or group member, where a secret quantity still remains. How long before that stash gets raided by the recovering addict during a moment of unbearable craving and temptation? Not long, indeed.
Think of the Consequences
The thoughts about the consequences may include the following:
- What will happen to me, my job, my finances, my health if I go through with this?
- What will happen to my family, my friends if I pick up this glass or smoke this joint?
- What kind of legal complications am I setting myself up for?
- What will this do to my health?
- Can I afford to go down this path again?
- What if I can’t come back from my addiction this time?
- Do I really want to lose everything just for the sake of a drink?