Thursday, June 2, 2011

Danger Zone: Planning to Drink

Summer is bearing down upon us with great rapidity, and the weekends can be a dangerous time for those in recovery, especially early on. Of particular danger is "planning to drink", where we start talking ourselves into breaking our sobriety.  It may be a thought that if we drink at a certain time and place, we will be sober before returning home to those who might know, or a justification, such as trying to give ourselves permission for those fruity tropical drinks on vacation.

These thoughts may be fleeting, or they may start to become obsessive; if you find yourself going into detail in imagining a drinking situation you have definitely crossed into a danger zone and will want to bring all your recovery forces to bear to shut off those thoughts.  This doesn't happen automatically when you are new to sobriety, it requires conscious effort.

The important thing to do when you catch yourself wanting to drink is to admit it - to yourself especially.  There is a difference between having the thought and incorporating the ramifications into your consciousness.  Once you admit to yourself that you are thinking about drinking, you are taking that thought from the reactive part of your brain to the active part, where you can counteract it.  Here are some suggested steps to use in redirecting your energy away from a drinking plan and towards reinforcement of your sober path.

Step One - Admit to yourself that you are in danger.

Step Two - Make a safety plan.  Gather phone numbers together.  Put the wallet card with the statements in your purse (if it isn't already there).  Verbalize the thoughts to someone close and supportive.  Plan for what else to do besides drink.

Step Three - If there is a specific event associated with the urge, decide whether you really need to go; sometimes it's best to beg off rather than face the threat head on

Step Four - DON'T DRINK

Step Five - Afterwards, analyze why the Imp reared his head.  Look for clues that will help you change your thinking to prevent a recurrence.

These short steps can make the difference between moving forward on your path to a New Life or stepping back toward the shadows of addiction.  Recognizing this danger zone will become easier with time and before you know it, these thoughts will flit past without even trying to worm their way into your plans!

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