Take the time required to identify your permission-giving thoughts and develop your personal rebuttals. Use page 3 of your “Craving Management Plan” at the end of this chapter and list some of your permission-giving thoughts or reasons for using again. Take the time now to begin this list. For every set of permission-giving thoughts, write an effective and strong reason not to use. These reasons will be one tool to use when you start to give yourself a reason to begin drinking or using drugs again. This exercise has been shown in studies to be an effective way to manage cravings and urges to use. If you keep your list current, it becomes a tool to help you prevent lapse and relapse. Here are some examples of permission-giving thoughts.
- I stopped once, I can always stop again.
- I can use just a little, one drink won’t hurt me.
- I’m young and strong. I can use safely for a few more years.
- I’ve had a rough day and I deserve just one drink.
- If I have one drink, I can still stay away from cocaine.
- I can handle any drug, except heroin. As long as I stay away from heroin, I’m in control.
- No one will know, so it doesn’t matter if I drink and use tonight.
Use your “Craving Management Plan Worksheet” and fill out some of your permission-giving thoughts. Write down all your possible reasons for giving yourself permission to use again. Once you have created that list, write down a rebuttal or reason to deny each permission-giving thought.
Share your best reason for using and your best rebuttal statement with a non-using friend or a supportive family member. Have them give you feedback. Ask them to help you to strengthen your rebuttal statement. Permission-giving and permission refusal are important gatekeepers for your actions. Even when the urge is strong, you can abstain, particularly if the drug is not readily available. The more clearly you identify your permission-giving thoughts and develop strong rebuttals, the more likely you will prevent a lapse or relapse. The more you identify highly realistic scenarios and practice refusal skills, the safer you are.
Using your “Craving Management Plan” worksheet at the end of this chapter, describe some of the actual situations in the past where you were offered or sold drugs and alcohol or asked to go places where you knew using was going to happen. Imagine realistic and likely situations. Write them down. Now think of realistic ways to refuse those offers. Write them down.
Get a supportive person to help you. Have them role-play with you and verbally offer you drugs and alcohol or ask you to go to a using event. You role-play turning them down. Keep it simple. Do it enough times until it feels natural. You don’t have to give an explanation for why you no longer use. Get a person who is willing to help you who is willing to create and practice many different situations. Practice with them over and over until your refusal becomes second nature. Here are some examples:
- Not for me thanks.
- No thanks, I don’t drink.
- I’m not interested in going to the bar but I would be up for a movie.
When some one offers you drugs or alcohol, use your refusal skills to turn them down and remove yourself quickly and immediately from the situation. You are learning and practicing self-defense to tip the balance in your favor. This is not a game. This is your life that you are learning to manage. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings or what they think about you if you immediately leave a restaurant, a movie or a room. This is not a popularity contest. This is your life.
What else can you do? Create a positive self-image and a balanced lifestyle. A balanced lifestyle includes: regular exercise, healthy diet, quality sleep, and healthy relationships. Reduce the frequency of acting on negative impulses by practicing thinking before acting and using your new coping skills to manage frustration, anxiety, anger, depression, or sadness.
Become more aware of your feelings and your cravings. Try not to react. Just feel them, and note them when they occur. Try many different methods to manage cravings to find those that work best for you. Exercise, meditate, read or go for a walk when you feel cravings. Learn your emotional craving cues: loneliness, sadness, anxiety, boredom, or anger. Learn the times of day cravings most occur. Take action to change that state being, manage that emotion, and stay active in times of risk.