To avoid relapses after stopping the unwanted behavior.
To avoid losing the gains we have made in self-improvement.
STEP ONE: Identify the high-risk conditions for you, including
the external circumstances and your internal moods and
thoughts. Analyze your needs and motives.
See method #9 and relapse prevention in chapter 4. Not only do
you need to know the conditions that give rise to the objectionable
behavior, but you need to understand the learning principles at work
and the needs being met.
A relapse isn't an unpredictable "accident," it is somewhat
predictable. High-risk as well as moderate and low-risk situations can
and should be identified, so you can prepare for them or avoid them.
There is evidence that many former addicts inadvertently make
decisions that put them back into risky situations. Recognizing these
"foolish moves" can serve as early-warning signals alerting us to denial
STEP TWO: Avoid the high-risk situations if you can; otherwise,
learn to cope with them; meet needs; avoid self-deception.
Methods #1, #2, #7 & #11 are relevant. Especially important here
is learning to meet one's needs in an acceptable way. Find another
way, instead of the compelling habit, to deal with loneliness, guilt,
inferiority, stress, boredom, etc. (See chapters 5 to 9)
You will need to carefully plan ways of avoiding high-risks. You will
also need to learn skills for coping with unavoidable low and moderate-
risk situations. This may involve learning from a model, self-
instructions, rehearsal in fantasy, stress management skills, building
your self-esteem and self-efficacy, recognizing the long-term
consequences of your habit, avoiding denial of risks, stopping the
obsession with the "it-will-fix-everything-if-I-relapse" thinking, and
completing the advanced preparation for a possible relapse discussed
in chapter 4. Constant vigilance is needed. Addiction experts speak of
developing a new "life style," i.e. finding new sources of fun, new
values, and life goals.
It is also important to realize that a person with one addiction
(food, alcohol, work, sex, drugs, shopping, socializing, etc.) often has
others or is prone to adopt another if deprived of his/her favorite. For
example, almost every drug user is a smoker or former smoker.
Quitting smoking may lead to eating more. So you not only need to
guard against relapse but also the development of a new addiction.
STEP THREE: Temptation resistance training; Extinguish old