Substance Abuse  Lesson 2     Avoiding the Pitfalls of Early Recovery

Assuming you have participated in lesson one, we again ask that you observe a few transitional moments of silence. Please refrain from thought, a quieted mind invites a relaxed spirit.  Should you feel  restrictions around  facial areas or body parts know that it is only thru awareness that acceptance can be entertained.  Again scan your entire being.  Do you feel confined or tight in other areas?  Acknowledge the disturbances as distractions rather then discomforts. Here we begin to surrender to our pretentious needs for struggle. We are once again going to clear our minds of thought, while paying close attention to our breathing.  Please be patient with yourself.  If you fall short of your goal, credit the attempt and continue to repeat the procedure.  In time you will have mastered this task. Enjoy being.


Congratulations, you are still with us and hopefully you have begun to experience a calming throughout your day.  Remember, you could practice this technique any time, and are encouraged to do so throughout the day.  If even for seconds while enjoying lunch or at the work place, practice it with diligence, observe your thoughts. 


Pitfalls of Early Recovery

The person suffering from addiction has a long evidenced a lack of coping strategies and skills.  Let us not put the cart before the horse.  For those who have used addictive rituals as a means to buffer life’s happenings, the minutest circumstances may become difficult endeavors.  Addiction has been a powerful coping mechanism for the addict, regardless of the hurtful consequences.

Coping skills are an ability to avoid and resolve conflict with minimal physical, mental and emotional strain or resistance.  Coping skills may take form in breathing exercises, a pause or hesitation in thought or speech, prayer, meditation, a phone call, seeking guidance, exercise, walking, reading, music, a movie, nap, etc.  Although all these are ways of diverting the intensity of a situation, they do not address the causes.

Those who are willing to undress themselves to get down to the nitty gritty – the cause, should be cautioned. It is often a humbling experience to realize that all the excuses, blaming and rationalization for one’s problems have had little to do with others or external factors.  We were not created with a nihilistic attitude or an inherent inability to manage our affairs. This is not an indication that an inability to correct preconceived notions exists but an opportunity to acknowledge how, when and where to practice prudence.

One who is willing to admit complete defeat and surrender to the struggles and hardships of past scripts has already begun to dis-identify with their former selves.  Those who investigate in juxtapositions are quick to realize the pros and cons of recovery.  The painstaking growth of recovery far outweighs the evils of addiction.  The recovering addict must know this if they are to succeed.

In a short time, one becomes aware that the pleasure they received the night before while viewing a sitcom, reading a book or enjoying a meal was temporary.  Likewise, any pain, no matter how severe or what the cause, is just as temporary.  This brings us to conclude that all pain and pleasure principles are temporary experiences and manageable if accepted at face value.  This is not to suggest that we glorify the pain of being mistreated, rather it is a reminder that we have alternative choices in how we perceive and react.

 Where the absurdities of others once provided us with an excuse to be indignant, hateful, vengeful, gossipy, self-righteous, angry or manipulative, today the mind remains quiet.  We acknowledge hurt, threats, fears and insecurities while avoiding mental persuasions, knowing that it is less restrictive to understand than to be understood.  The addict ,once consumed by skepticism, doubt and self-betrayal, enjoys the amusements of his newly found freedoms.  Humor has been found in the profanity of that which once threatened the addict’s livelihood but that now enhances it.  We have all conquered what seemed to be impossible feats; there was a time we had to learn to walk.  If you try to fail but you succeed, which have you done?

One outstanding characteristic of an excuse is its inability to achieve logical conclusions based on sound reasoning.  Despite a history of unmanageability brought about by repeated or similar behaviors, the addict will yield to logic and rational thinking at exactly the wrong moment.  This certainly does not imply that the ability to use good judgment has not been entertained or that one is incapable of mastering the skills that lead to good decisions.  Unfortunately, those who have managed to slip into states of denial forgo consequences, therefore finding it a difficult task to redirect their thoughts.  The struggle does not exist in attempting to change the thinking as such, but rather a lack of underdeveloped skills in surrendering to its struggle.

Addicts need to practice implementing exercises that increase the opportunity to advance beyond customary habitual thinking:
A) Identify thought.
B) Recognize all the implications of its cunning.
C) Acknowledge the task at hand while placing the proper value on its significance.
D) Avoid over exaggerating a need to feel victimized by letting go of that which has dominated the mind for so long.

There will be pain in surrendering to our addictions; after all, it is what we had become.  The pain is not insignificant, but at the same time it has its limit, while suffering can be experienced as limitless it actually does have an end point.  Suffering results from the storytelling that goes on in our minds, a trigger taken to extremes.  The mind is the birthplace of excuses, it’s domination with storytelling distracts the brain from its function of reasoning.  Preoccupation implies distraction, tunnel vision, maladjusted and delusional thinking, and an inability to think outside of that box.  A transformation in perception will occur as one develops skills in redirecting conditioned thought processes.

The composition of a thought extends beyond its origin, that is to say that once the thought is entertained consciously with it has developed an emotional response.  These emotions tend create additional dialog often interfering with the completion of the original thought.  It is this interference which results in distorted thinking, if continued maladjusted thought processing may develop.  We have all experienced crises in our lives which have involved critical thinking, although emotions may have ran high our thinking remained deliberate.  It is the random thoughts that generally produce the drama of negative entertainment in us.  By simply acknowledging these scenarios will create focus, lessening the intensity and frequency of occurrence.

Avoiding Pitfalls – Recognizing schemes, scripts and patterns


As a young women Jessie witnessed her mom,dad and relatives enjoy the effects of drinking; laughing, kidding and joking they seemed to be having such a good time.  At  the age of twelve she took her first drink and initially she made faces and her body rejected it.  Somehow she managed to get the second and third round down a bit easier.  Inherently the body will reject poison, yet having a desire to explore compounded by a feeling of escapism-relief of tension enhanced the effects, making it all worthwhile.  Her first compromise was to drink something that tasted poorly and at times made her sick, but at the same time allowed her to fit in, relieving discomforts.  An accomplished soccer player, a good student, a member of the chorus club and a reliable daughter, her time spent wisely. Jessie’s drinking begins to interfere with her social life, home and school work.  Again she placed herself in a position were choices must be made and again she compromises and quits the chorus club, a decision which would allow more time for drinking.  Our gal has seemed to figure it out, she managed to get through high school without incident while earning a scholarship for her soccer abilities. 

Her college freshmen year was met with great challenges, no one to answer to or monitor her time, an abundance of parties and social events filled with alcohol and drugs presented themselves to her.  The beginning of her sophomore year, the soccer coach let her know that due to her cumulative average she would have to seek academic help from tutors to remain on the team.  Wanting desperately to remain on the soccer team she did what was advised. yet in a short time she began to struggle.  Her drinking had escalated, spiraling out of control.  Mom and dad were on her back, decisions had to be made.  Jessie thought it best to convince her parents that soccer and school were too much and that to insure academic stability she would have to forfeit soccer.  This was a decision that created much quilt, the self-deceit ended in extreme self-defeating scripts. Her drinking became insufficient to alter the pain and guilt she felt, so she  began to use drugs and became a black out drinker.  Eventually school became too much for her, she dropped out and continued to use drugs and alcohol for some time.

Today she is sober, has completed school, is employed as a teacher and coach’s soccer.  She would be the first to tell how the self-defeating scripts and schemes she created lead to maladjusted and disillusioned thinking, spiraling into unmaneagability and chaos. 

It is difficult for most to deny the unmaneagability in their lives brought on by substance abuse.  It is the schemes, scenarios, patterns and scripts that have lead to this maladaptive and dysfunctional state that creates interference.  The external consequences are easily identified,  yet the cause remains hidden beneath those self-defeating scripts. Recovery becomes a challenge to both the therapist as well as the client.  If the effects of change are to be deliberate and permanent, a mutually agreed upon plan of action must be ascertained specific to the clients needs. 

The devotion to fantasies and day dreaming that lead to irrational and distorted thinking must cease.  People, places and things must be carefully monitored, a plan of action should to be established, relationships may need mending.  Social skills in the form of a support group should be developed.  Hobbies of special interest should be entertained, replacing the excuse of boredom that was once used to begin the vicious cycle.  Legal and medical problems will be prioritized if necessary.  Forgiveness cannot co-exist where guilt and shame are dominant.  Above all else, self-forgiveness must simultaneously become part of the recovery process.