The head is a dangerous place to go for people in recovery. Thoughts, patterns of thinking and destructive habits can derail a person’s recovery which may result in relapse. The addictive mindset fantasizes about ‘good times’ while blocking out the real reality of addiction and its consequences. Learn more about how the mind plays tricks on people and how to give up the games and get on track in recovery.
Mind the Mind
People who have struggled with addiction and loved ones who experienced it all understand the mental games that happen. Managing ‘thinking triggers’ begins with keeping one eye on the mind at all times. Paying attention to when the mind conjures up romanticized thoughts or memories of addictive behavior is crucial to finding success in recovery. Some of the following are strategies a person may want to try in order to let go of the mind games and shift back into feeling in control again.
Play the tape.
This is sometimes called ‘think the drink through the drunk’ or ‘take it through to a logical conclusion.’ Basically, follow a thought of using or drinking all the way to what the real outcome will be. If the mind thinks a cold beer might taste good on a hot day, follow with the next logical step. A person with addiction may think it will turn into more drinks, a binge, hangover, upset loved ones and perhaps a hospital or jail visit. Let go of pleasant thoughts of addictive behaviors, it is only a trap constructed by the addicted mind.
Thought stop and distract.
The thought stopping technique is a way to stop thoughts in their tracks. It helps to consciously tell the mind to stop and find a way to provide distraction. Engage the mind in doing something else – a movie, walk outside, conversation with a friend and so on. If something else is of interest, do what feels good like a guided meditation with pleasant thoughts. Focus attention on the good to distract from the bad.
Share the thoughts.
Do not go into old memories alone. Develop a strong sober support system to help tap into when negative thought patterns creep up. Tell family, friends and loved ones thoughts of using are kicking in again. Share about the issues at a meeting, over coffee or somewhere else. Do not let past addiction and negative thought patterns be the reason for a relapse. Take power back from those thoughts with the help of people who care and want to help.
The recovering mind is very powerful. Use the tools available for good and battle as hard against addiction as it battles against the psyche and body. Think of how far things have come and how much joy is awaiting. Don’t even think about relapse, it’s not an option.
Recovery is a process which lasts a lifetime. Take time to focus on getting mentally strong for the journey. Call The Villa if you need support getting back on track to fight addiction head on.