seldom is it an accident or someone else's fault. No alcoholic gets
seated at a table in a bar with drinking buddies (nor a philanderer with
a tempting, attractive person) without making many choices leading to
that high-risk environment. Identify those decisions or choice points;
they are your means of staying out of trouble in the future. Monitor
your thoughts carefully. Vigilantly guard against longing for "a cold
beer on a hot day," "the taste of just one cigarette," "another night out
in a topless bar with the boys," etc. Don't be seduced again.
Remember the bad consequences of your old habit and the good
aspects of you new lifestyle.
Chiauzzi (1989) identified several specific trouble spots that lead
addicts back into abusing. Be especially careful if you have any of
these personality traits: (a) compulsiveness --perfectionistic,
unemotional, over-controlled--because they come unglued when they
backslide, (b) dependency--indecisive, clinging--because they go back
to drugs when others abandon them, (c) passive-aggressiveness --
resistive, procrastinating, blaming--because they drive others away
and then can't handle their own anger, (d) self-centeredness --
egotistical, pushy--because they don't admit their problems, and (e)
rebelliousness --impulsive, antisocial--because they resent anyone
Another ominous sign is replacing the old addiction with another
addiction, e.g. compulsive alcoholics become workaholics, dependent
eaters smoother someone, sex addicts turn to alcohol, smokers to
food, etc. As John Bradshaw says, "They are still sick." The second
addiction generates new problems. A third pitfall, according to
Chiauzzi, is that 30% of relapsers believe all they have to do is abstain
or attend AA. They disregard gaining self-awareness, self-help skills,
intimacy, advancement at work, a philosophy of life, etc. They also
forget to avoid bars, physical problems, loss of sleep, etc. Constant
awareness of all these warning signs helps avoid relapse.
Self-help groups, like AA or Weight Loss groups or Assertiveness
Training groups, help you stay on track. Ask friends to help: steer me
away from temptations, challenge my over-confidence, support my
new behaviors and interests, be sure I can say "no" clearly, come
quickly to my rescue when I falter, and remember maintenance is
Practice coping with the unavoidable high-risk situations.
Think about what you could say and do when faced with the
temptation. Get advice and watch others. Role play with friends the
situation repeatedly until you are sure you can handle it (chapter 13).
Learn a set of self-instructions that will guide you through the
dangerous period (chapter 11). You might even test your coping skills
in the actual high-risk-of-relapse situations: A smoker could interact
with other smokers without smoking; John could go play sports or to
the bars to see if he can return to his studies within one hour, a dieter
could go out with friends having pizza and just have a light salad, etc.