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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:10 pm 
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Posts: 215
Preventing Slips/Relapse

There are two common, sincere strategies that people adopt when dealing with relapse prevention. The first is a passive, “I can do this...” approach — relying on their existing knowledge, experience and desire to manage future urges in an effective, healthy way.
Strategy #1: "I can do this..."

Usually, those who adopt this strategy have, somewhere in the back of their minds, continued to hold on to the false belief that recovery is an event — with a distinct beginning and an end. Intellectually, they may understand the concept of transitions and processes, but have not yet learned to apply these concepts to their own life in a functional way. This may get confusing, so do your best to follow. Often, even though these individuals may believe that they have adopted a 'recovery as a process' approach — and thus, believe that they are taking the most efficient path to health — in reality, they have adopted a series of beginning and endings along that path. A series of milestones. Of time measurements. Of black-and-white/good-or-bad behavior. Successes/failures. And while this pattern is not the 'all-or-nothing' extreme experienced in a raging addiction, it is also not the most effective approach to long-term change or to relapse prevention.

"Why then, do so many adopt this pattern?"

There are three answers to this question. The first is that, quite simply, adopting the "I can do this..." approach is the most natural. The approach itself is rooted in the positive emotions generated from the powerful feelings that come from the sincere belief that the individual will never again engage in such destructive behavior. And because they "feel' as if they won't engage in such behavior, they then translate that feeling into the belief that they won't. Which is unrealistic and often leads to the most devastating of all relapse triggers: complacency.

Experiencing the confidence and strength from such a positive affirmation as "I can do this...", while valuable at the time, becomes wholly irrelevant when the emotional variable of the urge is added to the decision-making equation. With the intensity of the urge factored in, the "I can do this..." is reduced to "I want to do this." Then, "I wish I could do this." Then, "I wish I would have done that." Then finally, "I will do it the next time." Why? Because it is still the emotions that are taking the primary role in decision-making. Overcoming this natural pattern will be an issue addressed later in this lesson.

The second reason that so many adapt the passive approach to transitioning their life is that it is all they know. Life management is a skill that does not get mastered until after addiction has been removed, and so, the passive, confident approach is an easy one to manage once the compulsive behavior has stabilized. By continuing to attend meetings, read recovery books, take medication, go to counseling sessions and whatever other strategies they used to stabilize their addiction, they continue on with that approach — with the logical assumption that the continuation of those strategies will be an effective way to keep those behaviors from returning.

Unfortunately, such logic does not translate into an efficient platform for relapse prevention. Why? Because at the core, it is fear that is motivating the behavior: the fear of relapse. And because it is the fear of relapse that motivates behavior, the motivation to continue relapse prevention remains only for as long as that fear continues. Once complacency arrives — and it always does — it will require only a return to the compulsive behavior to re-engage the fear motivator — and thus, re-engage the 'recovery' effort. Many individuals convince themselves into believing that addiction is permanent, and so they must fear potential relapse every day for the rest of their lives. How effective of a strategy is this? Well, for some it works. Of course, it is impossible to measure the effects of such an approach on that person's quality of life, but from an abstinence standpoint, it works. But for very few individuals. The great majority instead fall victim to reality (e.g. it is impossible to remain so intensely focused on recovery/relapse every single day) and complacency.

The third reason for the passive approach is that human beings, as a species, don't like change. And so, when faced with an opportunity to continue with something that is comfortable and stable or move to something that is new and for which they are inexperienced — the majority of people will choose the former. In relapse prevention, the behavior in question is their current, stable recovery routine. From the moment they made the commitment to change, recovery became a developing value in their life — capable of producing healthy emotional intensity. The more experienced they became at managing their recovery, the more balance they were capable of achieving. Eventually, they were able to manage their recovery based on their existing value system. But managing recovery and managing a healthy life are two completely separate tasks. One (recovery) is a fraction of the other (life). And so, while the essence of recovery can be achieved with a relatively small number of values/skills...living a stable, fulfilling lifestyle requires a foundation of values — not just one or two.

And so, while the efforts people made in recovery have been an important value in regaining stability, these efforts are not sufficient to maintain that stability in a healthy life. Why? Because life is not stable; it is fluid. And because this is so, a continued reliance on 'recovery' to manage life will fall way short in redeveloping a healthy, fulfilling life. New values must be developed. New skills must be mastered. Otherwise, people will be trapped in a life management strategy that is focused on avoiding the past, and will be incapable of adapting to new, healthy challenges in the future.

Taking a reactionary approach to 'life after addiction' leaves people at the mercy of their current emotional state. When that emotional state is stable, life is good. And complacency sets in. But when that emotional state becomes disrupted — due to stress, trauma, the consequences of complacency, etc. — life becomes vulnerable.
Strategy #2: "I am doing this..."

In a passive, reactionary approach, the main deficiency is that when you react to a stimuli, your decisions will be affected by the intensity of the emotions experienced as a result of your perception to that stimuli. In simple terms, your emotions will influence your decisions. And for someone attempting to end compulsive behaviour, the influence of emotions should be limited — and preferably eliminated.

The second group takes an active approach to relapse prevention. Much like early recovery required the active development of an initial foundation of values, boundaries, emotions, decision-making, prioritization, goal setting and more…an active approach to relapse prevention requires that specific actions be taken to master/ingrain these areas of life management. When you act, you place yourself in a position to develop the most efficient strategy for dealing with triggering stimuli and urges—a strategy that is based in the stability of your values/boundaries versus the instability of your emotions.

The question then becomes, should you choose to take an active approach to relapse prevention—and thus, an active role in transitioning your life to health—WHEN SHOULD YOU ACT?
Dealing with Trigger and Preventing Relapse . . .

1. Prior to an Expected Trigger
Daily Preparation - Bible, RN, Focus exercises
Aware of Surroundings - Where am I going, why am I going there
Aware of Stimuli - who is there, Who might be there
2. Prior to a Spontaneous Trigger
Do I have to be here.
3. On the Experience of an Urge
Do I have to be here
Should I be here?
Is there anyone who would say its a good idea for me to be here?
4.On the Discovery of Being “Off-Track”
Remove myself, make an excuse or just disappear.
5.On Schedule
Celebrate


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:18 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 14, 2015 7:14 pm
Posts: 215
Dealing with Trigger and Preventing Relapse . . .

1. Prior to an Expected Trigger
Daily Preparation - Bible, RN, Focus exercises
Aware of Surroundings - Where am I going, why am I going there
Aware of Stimuli - who is there, Who might be there
2. Prior to a Spontaneous Trigger
Do I have to be here.
3. On the Experience of an Urge
Do I have to be here
Should I be here?
Is there anyone who would say its a good idea for me to be here?
4.On the Discovery of Being “Off-Track”
Remove myself, make an excuse or just disappear.
5.On Schedule
Celebrate


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