Psychological Self-Help

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risk. Prepare some self-instructions and behaviors for avoiding the
compulsion in each situation, e.g. ask a friend to bring his/her own
beer while you have only coke to drink. Expose yourself gradually from
easiest to hardest to control situations. Don't give in! Take pride in
your growing self-control and changing attitude. Remember the
example of temptation control given in chapter 4, the beautiful hot
fudge sundae that melts and gets yucky. Besides behavioral control,
one learns to believe "I am strong! I can resist these silly urges!"
rather than thinking, "I am helpless and weak." (See chapter 14) 
STEP FOUR: Be forever on guard against the old urge.
The life experiences of many people suggest that an old habit
remains lurking in the background for a long time--maybe forever--
waiting for another chance to act. People who have avoided a cigarette
or alcohol for months will have an occasional urge and remember "how
good it tastes." Once they give in to the old urge, it takes very little
time for the habit to be re-established at full strength again. Thus,
prepare in advance to curtail any relapse as soon as possible (see
chapter 4). If you are in treatment but relapse, stay in treatment.
After relapsing, work hard to avoid or to prepare for your next lapse. It
can be done... it has been done by millions. 
Time involved
Probably several hours per week over a period of months is
required if it is a well ingrained compulsive habit that requires learning
new behavior and extinguishing old habits via exposure to old
Common problems with the method
In some cases, such as alcoholism and drug abuse, it would
certainly be foolish to suddenly re-expose your self to your favorite bar
and drinking or drug-using buddies. Without special preparation, few
people could resist. The idea is to build the skills necessary to avoid
relapse. Many experts believe it is dangerous to re-expose oneself
even to situations involving mild risks. Exposures, such as a former
alcoholic going into a bar, are certainly not necessary; yet, other
tempting situations, such as a neighbor offering you a beer on a hot
summer day, are not entirely avoidable. Besides, the needs that were
met by drinking, such as social needs, feeling more powerful, and
having fewer worries, must now be meet in different ways. With many
compulsions, there are many tempting situations that can't be
avoided, e.g. those prompting eating or smoking or socializing or
watching TV. If you ever gain some additional self-control, preventing
a loss of that control is absolutely essential for growth. 
Effectiveness, advantages, and dangers
Rachman, Hodgson, and Marks (1973) reported 75% success rate
with compulsive rituals using the cue exposure method for just three
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