Fresh out of treatment for addiction, many people are eager to resume their lives, possibly convinced that everything will get back to normal. Others may not be so sure, but they’ve been equipped with a strong set of coping skills and practiced their behaviors so that they’re fairly sure they’ve got a good chance at staying sober. Still, others feel like they’ve just stepped into a maelstrom of uncertainty, not knowing when or how they’ll fall back into their addiction. No matter which of these apply, the common denominator is that temptation will occur to each recovering addict. In recovery, however, the reality that temptations occur isn’t what’s important. The critical point of recovery is what the individual does about it, and here are some suggestions to overcome temptation?

You need to know the triggers. It is different for everyone, but unless they’re handled appropriately, triggers can cause relapse in the best-intentioned recovering addict. Maybe, the onset of the holidays brings back memories of rousing good times with friends and family long before the drunken episodes caused irreparable family or social damage. It could be driving past a former drinking haunt, where through the open door in the cool summer night, the sounds of booze-heightened laughter cause your heart to skip a beat. Sometimes a certain sound, smell, sight, or combination, such as cigarette smoke and ice cubes tinkling in glass, sets off an almost unquenchable urge to drink or use.

Even television ads are cause for concern to recovering addicts. Whether it’s the tailgate party beer ad during football games or the beckoning call to the race track to the recovering addict, these are often all it takes to relapse.

Oh, it probably won’t happen right away. Treatment is still recent enough that they’ve still managed to hold onto the handbooks, manuals, tips, and techniques. Going through their list of what to do to handle triggers and stressors will most likely be successful in the short term. But what happens later on when the triggers reoccur and are even stronger? What can be done then to ward off temptation?

Think about the dire consequences. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous contains much useful information on the subject of alcoholism and what it means to be an alcoholic. It is perhaps instructive to note that AA advises that sheer willpower and self-knowledge won’t help those individuals who have an “alcoholic mind.” In other words, while these individuals may have an understanding that they are alcoholics and even have a plan for what to do to avoid falling for the lure of the triggers when they’re caught off-guard, they make no fight against drinking at all. They just allow themselves to drink. They don’t think of the consequences.

But it is just not that simple. The example of alcohol could just as well apply to snorting cocaine or popping pills, smoking marijuana, gambling, overeating, or compulsive sexual behavior. Even with a plan, even with the best intentions, something more has to come into play in order to thwart temptation. That something is in-depth thinking through of the harm that can come from going through with the desire to drink, use, or gamble, overeat or engage in unhealthy sexual behavior.


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