Psychological Self-Help

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Learn to make decisions carefully and stick with them (chapter
13). Marlatt points out that not only are the long-range effects
overlooked (e.g. John's neglect of his future career) but the lure of the
fantasized immediate result is intensified during the first several days
of avoiding a strong habit. Examples: "If I could just have a smoke, I'd
feel more relaxed" or "If I go out for a drink, I would get over this
loneliness and might run into a hot woman." Sometimes the relapse
specialists enable the client under controlled conditions to test out
their expectations, i.e. have a cigarette or go to a bar and find out the
results are not as fantastic as supposed (exactly when this is a wise
approach is not known yet--see Brownell, et al, 1986). This is too risky
to do on your own. The grass looks greener on the other side of the
fence, but it is just as hard to mow! 
Sometimes the therapist gives an abstaining-but-tempted drinker a
cold beer and after he/she enjoys the wonderfully soothing release of
inner tension that the drinker feels can only come from a beer, tells
him/her that it is Near-Beer. This is an eye opening experience. In
cases where abstaining isn't possible (such as food), and especially
where the client just "can't stand the restrictions any more," Marlatt
has tried "controlled cheating," i.e. scheduling a big binge for one meal
a week. It helps some food addicts (but probably not drinkers,
smokers, spenders, gamblers, etc.) stay under control. 
Prepare in advance for a lapse (to avoid a relapse). Attempt to
limit the loss of control and reduce the feeling that you are a hopeless
total failure. Instead, if you slip, just admit that you have made a
mistake. (a) Make an agreement to limit the slip (to one smoke, one
dessert, one hour of TV, one drink) and/or call a helper when you have
lost control. (b) Prepare and carry a "reminder card” that says
something like this, "Slips do occur. They make us feel guilty, that's
normal. But don't let these feelings of failure snowball right now into
feelings of hopeless despair so that you continue to (smoke, eat, drink,
procrastinate). One slip doesn't make a total failure. Stay calm. Learn
from this experience. Learn your weaknesses and how to overcome
them. Remember why you are abstaining. Recommit yourself. At this
time, do this: get out of the situation (leave the bar, go back to
studying, throw away the remaining cigarettes, cake, drugs, etc.). If
necessary call a friend at number ____. Exercise or atone for a wrong
or do something good. You'll feel better." (c) Later, practice handling
the high-risk situation with a supportive friend. And, when alone,
imagine handling similar situations well. 
Any addicted person needs to reorganize his/her life. The
needs driving the compulsion can be meet in better ways. The habit-
breaker needs more satisfaction out of life, probably requiring a
balance of some immediate pleasures and long-term, meaningful
goals. Often, a more detached view of the urges and craving (not
"ain't I awful" and "I'm a failure") is helpful; it helps the urges fade
away. Marlatt and many other researchers (e.g. Brownell, et al.)
recommend learning a broad range of self-help skills, much like what
is offered by this book. This includes personal problem solving skills,
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