Recovery Workshop: Lesson Twenty-Eight

Developing Compulsive Chains

Mastering Compulsive Chains

Now that you have developed a basic foundation for what compulsive chains are and how they are to be used, we will begin ingraining this knowledge by learning to manipulate the elements to control the amount of stimulation that is produced. Because developing the ability to manipulate the intensity and/or duration of emotional stimulation plays no practical purpose in a healthy recovery, the goal of mastering compulsive chains is to ultimately control the SOURCES of the stimulation. Specifically, destructive sources versus value-based, constructive ones.

Mastering compulsive chains requires the ability to conceptually add and remove emotionally-related elements to existing chains. At first, we will be working solely with adding unhealthy, compulsive elements. The idea is not to participate in these behaviors, obviously, but to get into the habit of seeing even the most complex, bizarre behavioral chains as nothing more than a series of smaller elements that exist to fulfill a necessary role in managing your life.

Lesson 28 Exercise:

1. Develop a compulsive chain of your most recent acting out behavior.

2. Upon completion of this chain, review it to ensure that you can recognize the way that each element affected your emotional state.

3. Thinking as an addict, look for areas within this chain where you could add additional destructive elements that would have (most likely) increased the overall stimulation of the event. The actual events that you add should be realistic, and related to the chain itself. For instance, someone viewing porn might add the element of setting up a Power Point slide show of the images. Someone engaging in escort services might add the element of videotaping the encounters. Share these in your recovery thread.

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